The past few days I slept in rather late because my sleep schedule is off. Going to bed at 3 to 5 AM and waking up at noon and 1 PM is really taking a huge chunk out of the day. At this point I am almost a month into the trip. I know very basic Chinese, but because it’s a tonal language I can’t say a lot of the words. I don’t want to live here for an extended period despite really enjoying the new culture and exploring all around the city of ChengDu. I love the abandoned buildings, the bright city lights, most of the spicy foods, drinking tea, playing landlord and Mahjong, but once January hits I am really looking forward to traveling to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to backpack with Chris. We plan on hitch hiking from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and all the way up through Bangkok. I’m hoping I have budgeted my money appropriately to afford this part of the trip. That is when the real adventure starts.
Now I am just familiarizing myself with the city of ChengDu. Yes, I explored much of the city using taxi’s, metro and buses, but most of the time I generally did not know where we were going or how to get back there because Chris and Sarah did all the coordinating. From cycling ChengDu for the past few days I am finally figuring out where I am and how to get around the city. I am becoming more local as I ride around and explore. Cycling in China is great. They dedicate lanes for scooters, motorbikes, and cyclists to help separate you from the crazy ChengDu traffic.
Cycling ChengDu at night-time is even more thrilling. Aside from the adrenaline rush that comes along with cycling in China the city is so lit up that all the LED illuminate the night sky and you take in a rainbow of colors. Each building has its own light pattern almost like you’re inside a club listening to music. The lights come on at a certain time of night and go off when most people aren’t roaming around the streets.
For anyone staying in ChengDu for a long period I would recommend looking into buying a used bicycle or new bicycle. You can get them fairly cheap at any local bicycle shop and cycling ChengDu is the best route to go to explore the city. You won’t be spending money on taxi’s, buses or metro fares. You’ll be getting great exercise and familiarize yourself with the roads. Not to mention you can use Strava to record your routes so you know how to get back to your origin. Cycling ChengDu is where it’s at guys! I’ll be posting some video footage soon of me cycling ChengDu. You’ll get to see how crazy the traffic is during the day and night-time. Please be careful and make sure you pay attention to all kinds of traffic when cycling the roads in China. Watch for any motorized vehicles. People do not stop for you and will hit you if you aren’t paying attention. This is not America. In China, bigger means get the fuck out-of-the-way because they don’t slow down, they just beep at you and expect you to stop or move. Good luck cycling ChengDu and have fun!
Below are some pictures from cycling around the city of ChengDu. The GoPro really captures great footage even at night because the city lights are so bright it’s able to them up despite not being the Hero 4.
We roamed around in all directions day and night. I want to say I cycled around 20 miles or so in the past few days since we rode for about two hours. We stopped at Culture Park and checked out the Martyr Grave Site, which appeared to be a memorial for soldiers who all died in 1949. They did not have an English translation of the significance of 1949, but I’m assuming the memorial reflected the lives of soldiers who were lost fighting for the Republic of China in the Chinese Civil War.
All the parks in China are hubs for tourists of all kinds, Chinese, foreigners, etc. I felt jam-packed in there. We roamed around for a brief 20 minutes. A Chinese mother asked Chris to take a picture with her daughter. That’s the third or fourth time people have snapped photos with him just because he’s German. I laughed.
We continued on out of the park and took our bicycle and scooter to People’s Plaza to meet up with Sarah. Yet another crowded park, but this time we sat down and drank some tea. I met Sarah’s Chinese friend and we alternated what three people played landlord. Despite sucking at Mahjong, I actually picked up the Landlord game quite easily and did not play too bad considering my newbie status. I won two hands and a few other hands when against the Di Zhu. Dou Di Zhu is fun and takes strategy. I am unable to explain the rules without showing you in person since I need a deck of cards, but just trust my word.
After People’s Plaza we hit up a restaurant and ate a ton of food for 50 kwai (RMB). Once again I don’t know what we ate, but I enjoyed most of it aside from pig’s feet, which is just a bunch of fat in a soup.
Despite being tired as all hell I followed Chris and Sarah on my bicycle to find a bar downtown and meet up with more of her friends for drinks and shisha. Sarah tried taking a shortcut, but got us completely lost. Being tired my grumpiness kicked in, I don’t know what it is, I guess women in general just have no sense of direction regardless of what country they are born 😛
After countless u-turns, and backtracking we found the narrow road to the bar. I parked the bicycle next to Chris’ scooter and we walked in to the coolest Shu Shu in town. He brought out a huge pitcher of screw drivers, the strongest Long Island Iced Tea’s I ever drank and the fruitiest shisha of any hookah bar I ever smoked. After spending much money, I decided not to drink and just smoke. I sat around observing and listening to about nine Chinese people talk and laugh. I did not know at all what they were saying and felt out-of-place, but when we started speaking English, they felt out-of-place. So it teeter tottered back and forth.
The one girl, Sophie, arrived late and complained about getting married. In China, much traditional ways still exist, even today. Being 28, her family felt she needed to marry a man, due to her losing youth. So a man she knew for over 20 years asked her hand in marriage. The guy loved her since the age of 13 or maybe just became infatuated with her. I don’t know them well enough to be sure. She did not love him. He was not rich. He did not have a great paying job. None of it really made much sense to me. Her beauty engulfed the room. She did not look a day over 20. Her long slender legs, skinny frame, and cute face made her adorable for any man. So I could not grasp why she’d settle for anything less than being happy, but it’s just different in China. Her friends made fun of him saying he was a “Mama’s Boy.” I felt awkward and sorry for her, but it’s not my life, nor my choice.
This brought me back to reality and I realized the differences between China and America. We stayed at the bar late, until everyone finished their drinks and hit the road. Another night cycling ChengDu streets felt peaceful and I fell fast asleep once we opened the door to Eric’s apartment.