cause life won't wait

Chengdu and Xining, China

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province (wellknown from every Chinese restaurant’s menue in Europe) and the 2nd most polluted city in China. Xining is the capital of Quinghai province and dubbed “China’s Siberia” due to it’s nuclear dumping grounds and gulag-style military prisons. It is also the birthplace of the current Dalai Lama. We had fun there!

We arrived in Chengdu quite early on Monday morning and after breakfast + shower we started to explore the city. We discovered a Watsons – finally a place that sells western-style deos, which are indeed harder to find in China than in other parts of Asia. They only had deos for women, so Felix – who ran out of his a couple of weeks ago – had to take a female lemongrass one but actually it smells quite male and sexy on him : )

Since I haven’t been to a single Chinese temple so far we went to visit the Wenshu monastery. It varied a quite a bit from the other Buddhist temples we have seen so far in Asia – architecture, setup, design, deities, rituals, the monks robes, all quite different, very distinctively Chinese and very beautiful.

The temple compound also contains a vegetarian restaurant to which I was looking forward to a lot but, as in other Chinese vegetarian restaurants too, two thirds of the dishes were made of fake meat or fake fish arranged to resemble their models as much as possible. In the end we ordered very nice eggplants, spinache with nuts and Sichuan style fried tofu and left the place with our bellies brimfull.

In the evening, we went to see a Chinese opera which was quite interesting too. Unlike western operas, their Chinese counterparts  consist of several independent parts, each five to ten minutes long. Apart from the usual elements as mask-changing, fire spitting, comedy, puppet dancing and those dressed up guys they also showed a couple of traditional singers and musicians as well as a man doing shadow animals whom i personally liked best.

The next day we took yet another night train from Chengdu to Xining, which turned out to be very different from all other Chinese cities we have seen so far. Xining is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse cities of China, so we whitnessed  many different ethnic groups dressed in their own distinctive styles and speaking their own languages. As a large percentage of the population is Muslim, women with headscarves and men with prayer caps are a common sight on the streets too.

Traffic was absolutely insane but also fascinating in its own way. During the taxi rides from and to the train station we had a couple of very-very-near-death experiences, but the food in Xining made up for it very much. We ended up eating in the same Muslim workers restaurant three times because it was so good. The waitress neither spoke English nor was able to read our little Chinese notes (“vegetarian please”, “noodles with vegetables”, “not too spicy”…), so we usually played a few rounds of sharades before we got huge, hots pots with steaming eggnoodles and vegetables.

We spent most the afternoon backing up our photos and other data since we have just coincidentially heard that laptops, hard drives, ipods… (basically anything with a hard drive in it) are not unlikely to stop working on altitudes over 3.000 metres and only might or might not ever work again on lower altitudes.

At 3pm we took the overnight train to Lhasa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>