Friday, October 23, 2009

Hong Kong to Chengdu

In the morning when Phil took a shower, he was surprised by the angle of the shower head and managed to soak yet another shirt! I ironed that one partially dry. It took us forever to re-pack and be on our way to the “real” China.

I thought Phil looked rather dashing in his new clothes for our trip to Chengdu. We had breakfast in the Hong Kong airport – eggs, ham, roll and coffee for about $3 US dollars each! I didn’t get wanded in security in Hong Kong, a rare occasion. But they sure do make us fill out a lot of forms.

I worked on note for my talk on the flight to Chengdu. We were the only American on board a full flight and Phil was the only bald man. They served lunch –some kind of fish rice, an English style tuna salad and unripe melon but good Chinese tea.

Going through immigration and customs in Chengdu was really fast. All the officials wore both masks and gloves to handle our documents. We got our bags and were met by Shanliang from the Chinese ministry of higher education press, who had come from Beijing about an hour before us but waited to escort us to the hotel. It was a long, ride into the center of town. As we got closer to the center the traffic was dizzying – bikes, motorized bikes, 3 wheeled cars, pedestrians and no clear indication of the rules of right of way. The hotel entrance is beautiful, as is the hotel (the California Garden Hotel), although slightly worn.

We didn’t really have time to unpack, although I couldn’t find my black slacks and tried to call the Novotel. It took several attempts to discover why my phone wouldn’t work. The international calling numbers are different. Instead of + followed by the country code as it had been for me all over the world including Hong Kong, the Chinese provider needs 00 then the country code, Bottom line was my slacks weren’t there, but I had left some medicine.

Shanliang and Ming (our host from Peking University) took Rich LeBlanc, Phil and me in two cabs to the Jin Sha Museum. It was a fabulous place. In 2003, a huge archaeological site was found here including artifacts from the Shang Dynasty about 1600 BC. They found piles of elephant tusks, gold, jade, all for ritual use indicating the site had been a temple through many eras. Then next door they had recreations of the site as it had looked, and actual relics artfully displayed.
Potted plants

I was fascinated by the potted plant displays only to discover them everywhere in public places in Chengdu.

Phil decided to use his bed as a dresser!

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