Saturday, October 21, 2006

Travels, Pt. 1: Chengdu

This may all seem kindof boring, being old news and all, but I'm going to just start writing about my trip from the begining.

I left Beijing on the 22nd of September for Chengdu. Chengdu is my favrite large Chinese city, and it's the best place to get plane tickets to Lhasa. Not much special happened while I was there, though I had a great time nonetheless. I stayed in an exceptionally friendly hostel run by a Singaporean backpacker and his Japanese wife. Their two children often ran around the hallways ( I almost tripped over their youngest daughter once), and they also had a pet pig that wandered around the courtyard and tried to eat my shoelaces. The owner helped me figure out my itinerary for western Sichuan. It was in one of Chengdu's, and China's, few remaining old neighborhoods.
I spent much of my time hanging out with two people I met at the hostel, a slightly nutty English guy who teaches English in Taiwan, and an 18 year old Australian girl who had a vaguely goth style. My most exciting experience of the weekend in Chengdu was with them. We went to a club at the suggestion of the English guy, who was in Chengdu mainly to do a little partying after climbing mountains alone in the backwoods of China. Clubs in China weird me out, not least because of the drunk wacky white expats who go to them to, uh, mix with the locals. This club was no different, and I was about to leave when we met several Chinese girls who wanted to take us out to eat. The only problem was that they had just finished a bottle of whisky and wanted to drive us to the restaurant. My two companions and I hesitated for a moment, and then agreed- after all, the Chinese are pretty oblivious to risks, and most of them survive. Part of the fun of travelling in China is taking risks that you would never take back home.
That decision set the tone for the rest of my trip. The ride to the restaurant was also one of the scarier rides I've gone through in China, but I survived.

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