Saturday, October 8th, Day 23
Wanted to get out for a walk today, so decided to go to the Wenshu Yuan Monastery. I took the subway there, then walked back.
That red dot up there is my closest subway stop. It’s down just past the American Embassy, so about 1/2 mile away. I pay my 2 yuan and take Line 1 from Nijiaqiao to Wenshu Monastery, 6 stops, about 3.5 miles.
The ginkgo trees are dropping their seeds, a stinky mess in America. Here, I’ve seen many people collecting the fruit for its nut as soon as it drops from the tree. I like the ginkgo because it is the oldest tree species still around, about 200 million years old!
The streets around the monastery remind me of Disneyland. The shops, the building, everything is for the tourists. As I walked around I kept asking myself, “Who would buy all this stuff?” Obviously, tourists. I didn’t see anything that interested me, except for a shop selling old newspapers. I forgot that I wanted to find an old Mao-era “people’s art” poster, prototypical of propaganda after the revolution. I love the stylized figures, composition, and the simple phrasing of political slogans.
The whole area was so commercial. I was disappointed. I didn’t think it represented a China that I would recognize based on my stay. I realized that most visiting tourists never leave these strange and exotic surroundings.
Instead of taking more pictures of the temple, I found the manhole covers more interesting. I tried to take a picture of every different pattern.
This last manhole cover is in the middle of a busy street, hence the bright polished metal.
I wanted to have dinner at one of the monastery restaurants. I had heard from multiple sources that my long-sought dish, “potato fish” was indeed made at one of the vegetarian restaurants in the area. Unfortunately, I will have to come back with someone who reads Chinese. The signage and menus were not in English.
I decided to walk home. I followed a road that went to the river, then followed the river to the Anshun Bridge. From there, I went through Sichuan University on my usual route.
Walked six miles home. Arrived after dark (about 7:30pm?).
Stopped by The Beer Nest to pick up old issues of “More Chengdu”, a magazine about Chengdu in English. I had e-mailed the author of several restaurant reviews that I liked, asking for vegetarian restaurant suggestions. She suggested I read her column in More Chengdu, said I could find copies at Beer Nest, which I did. I didn’t stay for a beer, though. Stepping through that door to Beer Nest was like walking through a portal back to America. Everybody spoke English, everything looked normal, like bars in the U.S. and Europe. It was eerie. I asked the waiter (Chinese, but fluent English) where the copies of More Chengdu were. He showed me, then got pulled off by another question by another speaking fellow. I grabbed August and September issues and stepped back into China.
Went shopping for, and found(!) “cotton” tofu instead of “silk” tofu. The Wal-Mart meat market has a rotating collection of meats for sale. This is the first time I’ve seen live frogs.
I made a tofu noodle dish, but it wasn’t as good as I’d have liked. No pictures, please!