Sep
20

LUDING – CHENGDU

By

Not much happened today. It was a travel day. The hotel wake-up was set for 5 a.m. and the day was long. The bus was to leave at 7 a.m. and get into Chengdu at 1 p.m. I say this because I experienced on of China’s legendary traffic jams along the way.

At about 11 a.m., the bus was honking it’s way through yet another town until it came to a grinding halt. For two hours the bus moved only seven metres! Many hundreds of vehicles ahead – there was a traffic accident. And this is a problem everywhere… whether it is a traffic accident, a landslide or another earthquake, rescue vehicles have almost no way of responding since the roads are clogged with vehicles or damaged.

Luckily today was just a traffic issue and nothing greater.

My new little friend at a lunch spot between Luding and Chengdu!

Once past the traffic am, we drove all of 10 minutes until stopping for a lunch break! Somehow, I think there was a little greasing of the palms at this spot! I did meet an interesting young woman here though. She was cute, friendly and had never been so close to a westerner before. Oh, yes, she is all but a baby! It has been a good 17 years since I bounced a baby in my arms. Its like riding a bicycle, one never forgets!

The only highlight and amusement was the bus driver’s choice of entertainment. After departing Luding, the driver popped in a DVD and it provided a selection of music videos to while away the drive. The only problem is that there were only two videos. The first, a music video of a traditional Tibetan folk song produced with less than mediocre production values, featuring a Tom Jones-like Tibetan.

The second, at 5 minutes & 43 seconds, was a tortured Jackie Chan love sequence featuring Chan doubling at the singer! I watched this sequence, as did everyone else suffering through the offering, a hundred times, and still could not figure it out!

In any case, after 3 ½ hours, the citizenry in the bus, both Tibetan and Han, working in dedicated harmony, shouted down the driver, forcing him to have mercy and kill off the entertainment!

Anarchy at work!

The eventual arrival in Chengdu was oh-so familiar! Traffic! And lots of it!

Rather than a traditional hotel this night, I am staying at a place, highly recommended in western traveler’s circles as Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel. The thought of a hostel sends bedbug-infested shivers up my tired spine, but this place is far from that. Sim’s is a very cozy, very Western place. Indeed, after a few weeks of seeing nobody Western, this was a bit of reverse culture shock to me!

I got an odd feeling seeing so many westerners at one time! Truthfully, it was not a cozy feeling, I was having, but that of an invasion of sorts! I enjoyed being the only westerner I saw for so long. It gave me a sense of really being on an adventure that was only mine!

A traveler spends a quiet moment in Sim's on his laptop. WIFI is available throughout Sim's.

Chengdu is not remote, in fact, it, being the capital of Sichuan, is a very popular spot for tourists from around the world. And now, it feels like they are all here at Sim’s! Sim himself is a quiet, slim and energetic man who has cleverly converted this old factory location into an indeed, very cozy place. It is fun, quirky and offers up some great food and great beds!

For a much longer review of Sim’s, check out the drop-down menu above, “PLACES TO STAY” for more photos and impressions.

Before heading to bed, I went for a walk out in the dark streets. Music was coming from a distant corner and as I neared, it revealed itself to be a hit spot for some jiving ladies with fans! The music was coming from a boom box set up on a cardboard box.

A festive, warm atmosphere greets all guests at Sim's. On the left in this hall, notes to fellow travelers are left, as are other guests seeking company on journeys.

As I stood to watch the dancing women, I reflected on our often up-tight western ways. Rarely, if ever in North America would one witness a group of middle-aged women with feathery fans, dancing outside a 7-11 convenience store!

You just have to admire the honest and overt spirit of the people here, especially in this area which has seen it’s fair share of challenges. We could all learn a little something from this.

Categories : GUILIN/YANGSHUO, SICHUAN

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