Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Part 5 - Chengdu and going home!

Our time in Baoji had come to an end and so we were off to Chengdu.

After saying our goodbyes to everyone in the hospital on Friday, we made the 2 hour drive back to Xi'an to go to the rail station. It was fun to stop off at the convenience store and buy some yummy and not so yummy snacks.

The rail station was just like many of the other places where no one really gets in line, but everyone just sort of fights for position. Somehow, we were given a special invite to go down to our train before everyone else and that made the boarding process much easier for our group of 16.

Stunning country views between Xi'an and Chengdu. We travelled around 200mph and had a 3 hour train ride. It was crazy how much of the train ride was within tunnels through the mountains. Very green and very mountainous.

Yummy snacks. Barbecue chicken flavored fried potato things.

Inside of the cabin. Pretty darn comfortable with plenty of room.

When we got to Chengdu, Tyler was debating extending his trip because he didn't have anything in particular to hurry back to. For fun we walked around the city and Tyler inquired about getting a room. The front desk spoke absolutely NO english. Tyler's Chinese, while improving, wasn't quite there. They eventually found out this hotel was booked. Off to find another place to go.

Depending on how you count it, Chengdu might be considered China's 4th or 5th largest city. 18 million people. About the size of New York City.

These dudes were visiting from Inner Mongolia and wanted a photo. I've always wanted to go to Mongolia and so I got a picture too. For real, when I was going on a mission I was thinking Mongolia or Madagascar would be just perfect. I guess this was close enough.

Bikes everywhere

I asked them if I could take this picture. They all said yes and then turned away! So funny. The kid was laughing though. I guess looking back on it now, it seems a bit weird to have 4 people, dressed up nice, on a scooter... but it just felt normal there.

There is everything you could think of in this city. Knock off stuff and stuff nicer than anything here.

This was the only picture I got of these awesome oranges. In chinese they were called papa-gan. They are awesome. Super duper easy to peel, no seeds, delicious. In the background is a bunch of "chuar". Chuars are little meats on sticks they barbecue all over the city. Delicious.

Hot spot for hot pot right across the street from our Chengdu hotel.


Awesome guy at panda park. He is in consideration for top dressed china dude. I think he was probably part of the "porsche experience" documented below.

This seemed so random. But I guess there is a porsche enthusiast club that meets up around china. I asked if I could do it and they said all i need is chinese drivers license and a couple thousand dollars. Next time.

Yummy ice cream and fruit. Did I say I liked the food yet? I brought a ton of american food because I wasn't sure where we'd be staying and what our accommodations would be like. Turns out I didn't eat anything I brought. LOL.

Street artists

Get your ears cleaned out on the street. I passed.

Lays and Doritos and Cheetohs. I guess when you taste delicious you are found all over the world.

Some tough dudes doing tough dude stuff in the middle of the night.

Another dental office. Dentist in China seem to be treated more as technicians than as business owner people. The salary for a dentist seems to be maybe a 1/5 or so of what an american dentist average salary might be.

Jinli Street in Chengdu. Once again Tyler and I decided we wanted to wander the city and see where we ended up. This was a cool street market and hangout place with shops and restaurants and crazy food.

This lady is working making silk fabric to be used and sold in the store.

Click to expand this shirt. It says "redheads - use correct protective masks". Aren't they sweet?

Delicious green onion / egg / flour cakes

rice, pineapple, ham bowls in a pineapple

pig snout. i didn't go for it.

carnival style potato tornado 

eveyone just had to get a picture with tyler

I should have 38 years of good luck after sitting under this tree 

I'm really happy about my treat, you just can't see it in my face

street performers who wanna take a picture with you then hassle you for money

oh you know, just a provincial library 

And this is where you could find any bit of "made in china" plastic toys

And some random clothing site where the dump all the misprinted or other sort of clothes. Found some great stuff to bring home for the kids here. My favorite kind of stuff is the stuff that looks real, but has a misspelling. I got a couple "Aidads" sweatshirts this year instead of Adidas. Top notch.

Note the backwards N for new balance shoes

more dental offices

More fake bags. These things are such terrible quality it's not really worth it to buy them. But it's fun. 6 chinese dollars for every 1 american dollar. Last time I went to China in 2005 it was 8 to 1.

A real mall. Prices here are pretty much the exact same as American prices.

Instead of Home Depot or Lowe's, they just have small shop after small shop after small shop of guys out selling stuff.

Another Buddhist temple. Lots of Gold Buddhas around. Not sure how many of them are real gold and how many of them are fake.

This is found all over the city, chinese checkers, chinese chess, or majohng. Fun times.

Some more beautiful bridges from around the city. I think this one was called 9 eyes.

This picture was taken around 1:30 in the morning. I was trying to get my body ready for getting back on american time zones and China is just being China at 1:30 in the morning.

Here are a couple of quick snaps from Church on Sunday. For a city of 16 million people, there were 16 people at the meeting that day. So you could maybe say 1 in a million is an active LDS participant in Chengdu. It is held in a pretty nice home. The home used to belong to the district president, but when he moved, the church started renting it out for their services.

They meet for 2.5 hours each week. They begin by reading a letter from the Chinese government outlining the stipulations under which they are permitted to meet. They talk about how proselytizing is strictly forbidden. If someone asks you questions about church or the gospel, you must tell them you aren't permitted to talk about it. Only foreigners or spouses of foreigners are permitted to meet each week.

Another interesting thing about the LDS church in China. If you don't live in one of the 10 most populous cities, you are part of the largest geographic subdivison of the church. They meet virtually and are composed of the entire country of China. I was told there are around 260 members. They pause for 6.5 minutes for the sacrament and then resume with someone from within the area giving the sermon for the week.

Crazy story, but my mission trainer's trainer was the branch president of the ward here. And one of the Dentists from the Chengdu group was companions with him when he was a missionary back in San Jose. So we had a little impromptu reunion.

My flight out of Chengdu was delayed 6 hours, so I arrived in Beijing too late to catch my flight, or any flight to America. I had to get a hotel room near the hotel in Beijing. I was booked the next day on a flight direct from Beijing to Dallas so I was jazzed about that. But the next day that flight was delayed, then cancelled, then undelayed. It ended up taking of 6 hours late. Because of the delay, we had to stop in Los Angeles instead of heading direct to Dallas. All in all my flight home started Dallas time 9:30pm on Sunday and I walked in the door of my house at Wednesday 4:30 am. 55 hours of travel. Melissa asked me when I was ready to go back, I said if she could come with me, I'd go back tomorrow. Ha! I don't mind travel.


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