Chengdu is covered in dense heavy cloud and fluctuates between a steady light rain under low-lying cloud and frequent bursts of torrential downpours. Even though, one cannot escape the magic of this ancient city.
The hotel I am staying at is the Jinli Free Time Hotel. It is a small, unassuming hotel tucked away through a private driveway off the main street. Forget about the gym or a pool, you will find none of those amenities here. The hotel is clean with pleasant staff, public computers in the small lobby and the guest rooms very reasonably price. Room rates rage from 138 – 198RMB. At today’s exchange in Canadian dollars you are looking at $21 – $30 including a hearty Chinese breakfast buffet.
The best part of this hotel is that it is just a block or two from the famed Jinli shopping area. This is a trendy area of pedestrian only streets with bars, jewelry shops; craft stalls and stands selling an amazing range of traditional snacks. Some even fried on sticks and these, for the hearty and adventurous!
In this area are people specializing in ear cleaning! I knew of this and was squeamishly curious. Imagine a guy with a headlamp standing with many long, very thin steel rods, and going deep into your ear! It’s a very strange sensation to say the least. But I can honestly say, despite the discomfort, it was well worth it! These guys are no amateurs! They know what they are doing and this skill has been passed down for generations.
After much walking, the best way to end a day is with a foot massage and full body massage. A foot massage begins with soaking your feet in a wooden bucket filled with piping hot tea. After a steeping of close to 15 minutes, your feet are then brought to their knees! In my case, a 19 year old boy who has hands stronger than most adults! The massage business is in a large store front with armchairs around the perimeter for the foot massage, and tables in the middle, row upon row for the body massage. Here, massage is done, clothing-on. Despite the clothing, my 19 year old lad still knew how to bring the baby out in me! Like the ear cleaning – it was again work every bit of discomfort!
Tomorrow a 7 hour bus ride awaits. The first leg of a trip up high into the mountainous region of Sichuan.