By Yu Aaron Cheng on Dec 05, 2007
In this city of more than ten million, I bet half of them thought of the same thing: the Sunday lazy sun is warming the afternoon, how about hanging out in the park, playing Mahjongg over a cup of tea. No wonder the parks are brimming with people. Over 80% are playing games: Mahjongg the most popular one and cards second. The sound of Mahjongg games filled the residential areas and street players are at every corners. What an enviable leisurely city.
Every engineer define the boundaries before engaging a project. Did LI Bing think his shall last longer than 2200 years? Through these centuries, the DuJiangYan Irrigation System failed only once: in 1933 after an 7.5-scale earthquake that dammed up the upstream for 45 days and it was partially destroyed by the ensuing flood. To tour DuJiangYan, hire a guide to explain how things work: sands sediment there and water goes there; deal with drought this way and flood that way; automate this but do that manually. To sum it up: it was a near perfect engineering work.
Since I didn't have time to visit the famous SanXingDui Museum, I visited the newly opened JinSha Site Museum in the city. They did a good job designing the flow. A quick tour takes about an hour; a deeper appreciation requires about half a day. JinSha is a 3000-year-old mystery. The stone kneeling figurine had his hands bond behind and shows an intense expression. Was it a statuette of a criminal or a sacrificial doll? Did JinSha embody a collapsed ancient culture or the origin of Shu culture?
WuHou Temple appears to be the only one commemorating both the king and his prime minister (ZhuGe Liang), and named after that latter's posthumous title. ZhuGe Liang is one of the most prominent and highly respected figures in Chinese history. A stone stellae inscribed two essays authored by ZhuGe Liang and caligraphed by Yue Fei: two poignant heroes failed by their eras and leaders. So powerful. I was almost moved to tears.
Throughout China, fairs go with temples. Near WuHou Temple is the Ancient JinLi Street teemed with shops and restaurants. ChunXi Road, downtown Chengdu city, is a contrasting modern shopping area alike those in Beijing and Shanghai, only a little smaller.
In Sichuan, must see Sichuan Opera and eat Sichuan cuisine. We went to "Fu Rong Guo Cui" in JinJiang Theater. The performance is good and priced at "tourist grade." "Changing Faces" shows are common in Beijing, but ChengDu's version featured a puppet doing it! One performer can even change backward. Honestly, it has become old watching these shows. How many times can you be amazed at the same, albeit very skilled, trick?
Sichuan restaurants in SiChuan must meet the impossibly high expectations: innovative yet traditionally authentic. Tourists really should not expect both. Just choose.