An American in Chengdu

Olde Chengdu | September 27, 2009

Today was a rare sunny day in Chengdu, and I took the opportunity to ride my bike to the park. Actually I got a little lost and ended up at a different park than the one where I’d intended to go, but no matter. I sat at one of its four outdoor tea gardens with a bottomless cup of jasmine tea and read Cat’s Cradle.

I decided that I’d stop off in Chengdu’s main shopping strip on the way back and look for some black flats for a reception I’m going to on Tuesday (more on that in a future post). In the course of being slightly lost I stumbled on a pedestrian area of old-style buildings that had been reborn as sidewalk cafes, clubs, and shops for Chengdu’s young and hip. I parked the bike and walked around, taking pictures and drinking bubble tea and trying to decide what I thought of the place. The Starbucks would seem to be a bad sign, but… isn’t it a good sign, overall, that traditional buildings are trendy? I think so.

As I walked around the shopping area later, I thought about China as a tourist destination as compared to, say, Europe. Europe is a wonderful place to see history, and China has plenty to offer those seeking ancient artifacts, temples, ineffective defensive walls, etc. But the most interesting thing to experience in China is the present, in that split second before it becomes something completely different.

As for the shoes, as feared, the first two shop girls I asked said they had nothing in my gigantic size. I gave up, consoling myself with thoughts of my December trip home.


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    About me

    I've come to Sichuan in search of adventure, fluency in Chinese, and awesome vegetarian food. I have to concede that the baby pandas are very cute.
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