Last Friday we had some free time after work to go to the art market. Sarah came with us and was able to help us bargain with the vendors. We do not really know our numbers yet so it is hard for us to bargain. We all purchased a few things for ourselves, friends and family. They had a variety of things at the market such as jewelry, paintings, beads and silk. A lot of vendors sold things that are endangered or illegal such as items made from endangered wood and brushes made from turtle shells. It was helpful to have Sarah there to help us know what items we shouldn’t buy. At the end of our time at the art market I was looking at a bracelet. Sarah asked the man how much the bracelet was. He told her he was giving it to me for free because of how far we came to see China. He ended up giving us all free bracelets!
Last Saturday we had our first cultural day with Alex our tour guide. He took us all around Chengdu to have a relaxing day and show us what people in Chengdu do for fun. We first went to the Wenshu monastery. While walking to the monastery this woman was making animals out of sugar. You would Spin a wheel and what ever animal you land on she would make. I spun and landed on the dragon! This is the animal that will give you the most luck.
We finally got to the Buddhist Wen Shu Monastery. It has beautiful buildings on beautiful grounds. It was a very serene place. The monastery was first built during the Sui Dynasty (605 BC – 617BC). War destroyed the monastery and was rebuilt in 1697 during the Qi Dynasty. Alex said many Chengdu people go to the monastery to relax and drink tea outside. There are lots of beautiful trees and ponds throughout the grounds. One pond was a turtle release pond where people can bring turtles. You could see hundreds of turtles in the small ponds.
Next we went to the Kuanzhaixiangzi alley. It was two alleys that have lots of little stores and vendors on either side. After the alley we went to people’s park. It is the first area in China named a park. In the park many people were practicing their dancing. As we kept walking through the park we notice a huge crowd of people looking at sheets of paper on the ground. Alex explained this to us as advertisements of people. Parents want their children to get married in their early 20s. They put advertisements out describing their son or daughter saying things such as their age, height and degree. They also explains what they are looking for. Parents come here to set their kids up on blind dates. Walking around the park more we stopped for tea. We stayed for about 2 hours just drinking tea and talking, this is a very common tradition in China It was very nice and relaxing.
After tea we went out to dinner. We had hot pot which is similar to fondue. We each got our own pot of spicy boiling oil. We got a variety of vegetables and meat to cook in the oil. The oil was so spicy and had the numbing Sichuan peppercorn in it making my mouth feel very tingle. The food was delicious but I could have done without the Sichuan peppercorn!
After dinner we walked around downtown and went to this shopping area called Jinli Pedestrian Street to just walk around and see what they had. Before walking into the shopping area there were three men with monkeys on leashes. It was a very crowded area and the men kept trying to put monkeys on people. The one man ended up throwing the monkey one me. These monkeys were babies and probably taken away from their mothers to be used for profit. They are suffering so these men can make money off people taking pictures with them. After shopping we took a cab to the river and walked around near all of the bars and restaurants. This was one the best days we had so far. We were able to see so much that Chengdu has to offer.
Oh and we all bought selfie sticks so we can fit in with people in China