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Sunday, November 25, 2007
Sichuan Trip part 1 -vvv

Day 1: 9 Nov 2007

We leave for Chengdu in the late morning. You know it’s going to be a long flight when there are rowdy Chinese on board. Still, there are some passengers I find amusing, such as the Caucasian guy who walks around with a paper crown (Burger King perhaps) on his head.

A few minutes after I was comfortably seated on the plane, I could hear the noisiest group of people, hereinafter referred to as the Annoyance, protesting that they should be allowed to sit anywhere they want. Apparently, they presumed it was free seating. I rather pity the air stewardesses; customers like these must be their worst nightmare.

After being directed to their assigned seats (which was right behind my family), the Annoyance proceeded to gamble and laugh boisterously throughout the flight. When my father was away from his seat, one guy even had the cheek to kneel on my dad’s jacket to achieve a better position for playing cards with the person behind. He only left when I glared at him.

My mother wasn’t so lucky. The Annoyance behind kept knocking her seat, preventing her from getting any rest. She scolded them for being selfish and inconsiderate but they just brushed it off. That was a strategic error. It would have been more effective if she told them that they had bad luck written all over their face and that they will lose every game they gamble and every penny they own. In any case, the air stewardesses just watched helplessly. Whatever happened to those electric stun guns you see on TV?

I was glad to be rid of the Annoyance upon arriving in Chengdu. My first impression of the city can be summed up in three questions. Firstly, why is it so hazy? Secondly, why do the people here smoke so much? Lastly, I couldn’t help but wonder: is there some kind of causal link between the smoking and the haze?

The airport's tourist reception counter is manned by a complaint box

Our first destination in Chengdu was to the bus station to book tomorrow’s ride to Rilong town (日隆). Chengdu, being a Chinese city, naturally has its fair share of cab drivers who charge exorbitant prices. One guy even suggested 100 RMB. We settled for 80 RMB even though that too was high (our ride back on the last day cost 60).

We met a woman at the bus station who ran a hotel of sorts. She claimed that her place was just beside the bus station, which was convenient since our bus leaves at 0630h the next day. Her idea of “near” turned out to be more than 1 km away. Transportation to the “hotel” was free but I wasn’t very happy about being lied to. Her “hotel” was basically the flat she lived in. At 80 RMB (SGD$16) for 2 rooms, it was the cheapest but also most decrepit “hotel” I have ever stayed in. It came complete with holes in the walls, spider webs in the corners and furniture that a garang kuni man will reject.

At least there was cable TV, probably illegally tapped. I didn’t bother showering since I felt cleaner than my surroundings. After watching a TV show featuring kids imitating celebrities (one boy imitated Ricky Martin but ended up looking more like William Hung), I went straight to sleep.

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
12:35 PM


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