ChengDu East Music Park
I’m still adjusting to the time zone due to the 12-hour difference. We are a day ahead here compared to the USA. I needed rest last night since I’m still fighting mono and all this walking is catching up to me.
I woke up early yesterday to get a Chinese phone and meet up with Chris later to go downtown to the ChengDu East Music Park.
Two days ago, I bought a SIM card, but it didn’t work on my unlocked HTC One for some reason. I’m assuming because my provider is Sprint. I called customer service from Hunt’s phone, but they did not resolve the problem.
Hunt drew me up directions to the ATM and the SIM card store. His directions made me chuckle. No street addresses or estimated distances just a few local building landmarks. He gave me the key card and house key to get back inside and left for work.
I followed his directions, but they stopped at the Wowo and every street I picked from there left me in the wrong direction. Frustrated I almost gave up and walked back to the apartment. I stood on the corner trying to remember any distinguished stores I remember passing the day prior and my memory triggered. I continued straight past ChengDu Hooters. On the right, four red, dimpled Chinese doors propped open with the stigma of Chinese culture cast inside the store. The old traditional roof looked like an ancient Chinese temple from olden times.
I continued past and within a half mile met my destination at the SIM store. Few clerks spoke English, but one woman helped me out the best she could. I pulled out my phone to show her the two models I wanted for 599 or 799 RMB, but they sold out this morning before I woke up due to Chinese Black Tuesday. Most deals put phones and other goods at 40% off.
I did not want the more expensive phones since I am unsure of my departure from China. She set me up on a cheap phone for 450 RMB and used dual SIM card. However, multiple problems arises after I left the store. For one, my old SIM card does not work on this model phone. She also forgot to give me my change of 100 RMB and she accidentally signed me up for a year contract when my visa is only valid for two months.
I did not learn of this until Hunt came home from work later in the evening. I figured I’d worry about it when he arrived home.
I walked back home familiarizing myself more with the area and my surroundings. I made it through the gate and up to our room, but I felt like a little child trying to open a safety locked door. I inserted the key into the door and turned right…”click”…I pushed, pulled the handle up, down, but the door didn’t budge. This went on for over ten minutes. I almost capitulated, but tried turning the key left for the hell of it. “Click, click, click”….the door creaked open a few inches. I made it in, holy shit.
I felt like a God. It pissed me off that this door man handled me for the better of ten minutes, but I took everything as an experience.
Chris came in from class a few minutes later, we grabbed our jackets and left for the bus. He studied Chinese for three years prior to moving to ChengDu and speaks three languages. I felt confident we wouldn’t get lost on our journey to ChengDu East Music Park since he knew a little Mandarin.
I can’t remember the stops we made or the buses we took. I wish I knew some Chinese, but regardless we explored much of the city. My eyes took in the vibrant colors of bar walls and eccentric artwork. Stores stood out with their shiny colors illuminating from the sun peeping out above. Industrialized piping, watch towers and smokestacks sat perched between the stores. Instead of tearing down a part of history, the Chinese built around it, making the bright signs and walls of new buildings stand out from the contrast of old abandoned architecture.
We passed a cafe where violins sang through the doorway. Chinese men and women smiled at us as we stood and listened to the harmonious sounds whispering from the room.
We laughed at poorly translated English signs saying, “Someone’s soil” and stopped in town at a local bar to grab a drink while we watched a firefighter drill. I bought a water for 20 RMB and felt just as parched after drinking it.
The atmosphere around me made me feel out of place, but I liked it. Different experience intrigues me and makes me want to travel more despite being alone.
We walked around aimlessly not paying attention to our direction. Construction took place all around the city. Half built skyscrapers stood there vacant next to decaying one story shacks.
We stopped to watch construction of a skyscraper from behind a guard railing. I took some video clips of the different structures we set eyes on with my GoPro.
I talked to Hunt and he said mostly everyone is paid off and takes bribes because they take shortcuts with the building plans. Maybe they use smaller rebar size…I’m not quite sure, but as long as the skyscraper I’m staying in doesn’t fall over then I’m alright.
We ended up checking out the square, which reminded me of New York City. Shiny buildings among tall skyscrapers engulfed the center of the city. All the vibrant colors made it hard to take my eyes off of the architecture and continue walking. My phone and GoPro died at this point so I didn’t have the luxury of taking pictures. We stepped into the mall and my jaw dropped. So many imported brands lined the inside of the mall like I opened a door to America. The only difference being Gucci, Adidas, Prada and other brands marked up 500% by the Chinese government. So many people roamed around purchasing tons of material items they didn’t need. Probably to impress people they don’t even know or like. It reminded me much like America.
After this long trek we began to make our way back home. Chris tried finding directions to the nearest bus stop while I sat there and twiddled my thumbs since I could not understand anyone around me. I felt retarded, but despite getting lost, we eventually found our way home. I’m not even really certain where we went, but we ended up near Nijiaqiao Station. I found my way back from the red steeple building which can be seen from our building. It sits below it between the other shiny blue skyscrapers.