Monday, September 24, 2012

Site Seeing

I know, I know.....I've made six or seven posts, and still no pictures of a pagoda!  Am I really in China?  When we arrived, our immediate concerns were with housing and eating.  We had to buy trash bags, a broom, a mop, an iron, an ironing board, hangers, dishes, pots, silverware, utensils, a mattress pad, towels, lamps, a clock, toilet get the idea.  Most of the BYU teachers are going to places where there have been teachers for many years who have furnished their apartments.  But we are the first teachers here in 5 years, so our apartments were stripped bare.  Once we got things semi-organized (although we often feel like we're just camping), we decided to head out and see Chengdu.  First we went to the Jinsha Archaeological Site.

Add caption
In 2001, this site was discovered with ancient artifacts of ivory, jade, bronze, stone, and gold, dating back to around 1000 BC, including the famous "sun bird" which is now the official emblem of Chengdu.
Gold foil 'sun bird' artifact
More professional photos and information:

Interesting, but still no pagodas!  Last Saturday, two of my students offered to show us a tour of Chengdu which we happily agreed to take.  They started at the Du Fu Thatched Cottage.  Du Fu was a Tang Dynasty poet (712-770AD) who built a, you got it, thatched cottage here in Chengdu where he lived 4 years and wrote over 240 poems.  It's now a beautiful park with koi ponds, bamboo, trees, paths, and.....


It is a serene and peaceful place--so different from the bustling city around it  There are statues and stone steles with engravings of many famous poets of China.  It was relaxing to see the people enjoying the beauty of nature.


And here it is...the famous thatched cottage.  Not the original, but a replica built on the same spot.

My students, Wendy (l) and Vivian (r)--their "English" names
The park had some unique aspects--I loved how the men would bring their pet birds (that speak) in elaborate cages with Chinese porcelain feeding dishes, to hang them in the trees and let them enjoy the "fresh air" and the companionship of other caged birds...

Pet birds out for a "walk"--cages hanging in the trees

There were also some whimsical soft sculptures, made of fabric over a metal frame in bright colors.

Vivian & Wendy, our tour guides

There were plenty of "traps" for tourists here.  We suckered into a silly photo, and got an interesting lollipop.  You first spin a wheel to see what the woman will make, then she pours hot, sugar syrup onto a cold marble slab in the design of what you spun, then she puts it on a stick, lets it cool, and hands you your treat!

Du Fu? 

Made-to-order suckers--notice the spinner to see what you get.  

The next stop on our tour was Jinli Street.  This ancient marketplace was trading goods back in 221 BC!  It was the busiest marketplace during the Shu Kingdom.  The traditional-style ancient buildings which line the streets are especially representative of the Qing Dynasty era.  The narrow alleyway is jammed with shops and restaurants and "take out" stalls where you can buy "snacks".  Our guides ordered our snacks for us, and I even tried squid-on-a-stick!  (Kirk wouldn't!) 

Starbucks?----In the Qing Dynasty?

Buddhist Monks like to shop, too!

Mystery Meat on a stick--fish, squid, beef, pork....

and quail!  They eat the whole thing, bones and all--crunch, crunch!

Wendy and Vivian were delighted to share their favorite snacks.
We had meats on skewers (including squid), crystal dumplings, traditional dumplings (like pot stickers in the US, only boiled), meatballs (both gray and white--Kirk made me eat the white one--the girls said they were beef, but you can imagine which part of the cow they came from), a delicious, sweet pineapple and sticky rice pudding served in a hollowed pineapple half, and a rice and beef concoction steamed inside a bamboo cane.  Lots of interesting new flavors.  The girls were very curious about how we liked their favorites, and made sure we knew these were very traditional.

After eating lunch, it is typical in Chengdu to have a rest.  The mid-day break from school lasts 2-1/2 hours!  So we'll take a rest here, too.  Tune in next time for more of our tour of Chengdu with Wendy and Vivian!

1 comment:

  1. I can hardly wait for the first WGGM get together when you get home--Chinese food! The real stuff. You are getting recipes, right?