Chengdu Ho!

if this train were to leap off the tracks right now for some reason, careening off the sides of the tunnel before launching off a cliff, flattening against the side of the canyon and plunging, burning reckage, into the river below, it really wouldn’t be that bad. that was a thought that passed through my mind briefly the other day, probably around 2 in the morning, as i was once again jerked out of my light and uncomfortable sleep for one of many reasons.
it hit me the other day that i hadn’t really seen much of china, even after living here over five months. so, i made an impulsive trip to the train station, deciding that the sichuan province was worth a look with the rapidly disappearing time that i still have. it is the case in china that, with so many people, any place of public transportation is crazy, all the time. so, of course, all of the sleeper car train tickets were sold out for the 22 hour train ride. how bad could a hard seat be, really. well, besides the discomfort of the seat, there is also the remarkable environment, the absolute non-existence of privacy, the dramatically different concept of acceptable public behaviour that one finds on the public train. man, awesome, just great, it’s a good thing that i’m masochistic in the first place. travelling is, after all, supposed to be a little uncomfortable, right? well, mission accomplished. lots of stories i could tell, of course, lots of interesting conversations with my fellow passengers – believe me, i got lots of attention, there were definitely no other foreign travelers on this train.
anyway, now in the city of chengdu, the capital of the sichuan province. ya, the sichuan food is pretty good. sometimes i think “wow, they’ve really mastered the art of cooking, add enough chili oil, salt and MSG to anything and it tastes delicious…” but no, there is some stuff that is quite good. i was here about half a day before i started going crazy without a bike, so i found some little shop by the river where i could rent one. i love travelling and having at least a basic grasp of the language, it opens such different and special opportunities, and it’s so very rewarding to me. it’s probably the best feeling, actually, for me, the reaction that i get so many times a day when an otherwise cranky shop owner discovers that i can bullshit with him.
i believe this is the third largest city in china, but im not sure. i don’t know how many kl’s i put on today, more than a few. i already feel somewhat comfortable biking around the city, but that’s probably because it is a manifestation of that wonderfully organized city planning by virtue of the absolute power of a government. but the city just keeps going, whichever direction you head. what an amazing experience it is to see, this incredibly modern city, blowing away so many assumptions and misperceptions that may have been left about china. my brain is probably suffering from overexposure to sun today, so my words are hardly adequate, i wish i could do better.
anyway, time is not enough, back to kunming soon. have some things to do there still, and it’s so very soon that i make my way down to hanoi again, to catch my flight to malaysia, the winding road back to minnesota.

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