During our last day in Chengdu, Lilly accompanied me to sight see the city on a cultural level. Just before we left for our excursion, I discovered it to be freezing outside and knew that I did not have anything that was going to prevent me from becoming a human icicle. Everyone scurried around the house looking for something to keep me warm and could only offer me a bright yellow puffy jacket that looked like it was made to keep people from getting frostbite while climbing Mount Everest. I knew that my mother (who is an avid Fashion Police watcher and stylish fashionista) was screaming somewhere in the distance. If I concentrated really hard, I could hear the distant echo’s of her tormented cries…
Nevertheless, I put on the jacket and realized it was the warmest and most comfortable item of clothing that I was wearing. No wind could get through and it felt like being hugged by a marshmallow (or maybe Baymax?). It was going to look even stranger walking next to Lilly, who was rocking the grunge hipster look. I let go of my fears of looking silly and decided to strut my stuff as well as I could looking like an inflated yellow teletubby.
We first headed out to see Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage, which is a 24 acre park and museum in honour of the Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu. In 759 (no, I didn’t forget a digit there) Du Fu lived in a thatched cottage in Chengdu for four years and wrote 240 poems during this period. He wrote more than 1500 poems during his lifetime and is described as “the Chinese Shakespeare”. His poems had a tremendous influence on Chinese and Japanese literature and students have to memorize some of his work as part of their curriculum.
I had never heard of Du Fu and I could see the disappointment in Lilly’s face when I sheepishly admitted it. She went on to tell me that there was so many beautiful and genius literature in the Eastern world, but because there are not a lot of people who can translate it to English, it barely gets recognized by the Western world. Out of the 113 receivers of the Nobel Literature Prize, only 2 were Chinese. China is so rich in culture, history and tradition, yet it is mostly undiscovered by Westerners. We do not understand their customs and many do not ever wish to. I think it’s a real shame. Maybe we could learn a few things from one of the world’s earliest civilizations?
During the taxi drive to our next destination, I realized that the national sport in China was excessive car horn honking. This could be due to the fact that the Chinese cannot drive – it can be called defense driving at best. They honked when someone drove to slow, when someone was in the way, when they saw someone they knew, or just for the sake of not having honked the average 400 times a day. It was as if everyone had a quota to fill or else they wouldn’t be allowed to eat for a week, and the Chinese loved to eat. Eating is their other national sport – all they ever talk about is food and they even have a fourth meal around midnight! I have no idea how they stay so skinny.
Our next destination was the Three General’s Fair, which was dedicated to three very famous war generals from ancient Chinese history. Except for the huge statues of the three generals, it was a completely normal fair. There were funny hats, candy floss and weird foods to buy from stalls which lined every possible wall of the fair. There was a huge stage showcasing acts from around the world: Chinese Kung Fu artists, Thai belly dancers and, to the surprise and confusion of every person within earshot, Scottish bagpipers and dancers. Needless to say, Lilly and I both went home with headaches.
Our adventure in Chengdu had ended and I was ready to return to Shenzhen to start job searching again, except we weren’t flying home, we were going via train. Instead of two hours of motion sickness, I had to endure 36. It didn’t help that some of the staff decided to smoke inside the cabins. But I was exhausted and slept for about 30 of the 36 hours, feeling slightly jealous of Sleeping Beauty’s abilities. By the time we arrived in Shenzhen, I was cured of my fear of flying in a plane and vowed to never refuse the chance of travelling somewhere with that unpredictable metal bird ever again.