First Day in Chengdu

The journey to Chengdu started of very pleasant. Although, I was hoping to catch up on this blog, but most of the time was spent chatting about the meal in Chengdu this evening, and with the lady next to me who showed me a new translation tool in WeChat.

There seem to be many hills between Xi’an and Chengdu. The journey reminded me of travelling from Xiamen to Shenzhen; sometimes coming out of one tunnel and going immediately into the next.

Unfortunately, my travelling companion got off at Deyuan(?) and soon after, just before Han Bei Zhan (汉北站) a guy took her seat who stank of I don’t know what. So the last half hour or so was not so pleasant as I tried to find fresh air to breathe.

GY and her boyfriend met me in West Square (成都东 西广场) and we headed straight to the Panda Breeding Centre.

Sadly because of the heat, the Giant Pandas (大熊猫) were all inside, but we saw more and could see them more clearly than in Beijing Zoo, because the glass was much cleaner. We also saw some babies, including a couple of newly-borns in incubators.

There were some Red Pandas (or small pandas, 小熊猫) outside. They are very cute. I had been led to believe in zoos in England that Red Pandas are not really pandas, but GY asked me the origin of the word “Panda” in English so I looked up the etymology and in fact it was the Red Panda that was first called “panda”, from the Nepalese word for them where they were discovered by the Western world. Giant Pandas were originally called “Parti-coloured bears” until their similarity with the Red Panda was established.

We went to my hotel so that I could check-in and freshen up before the evening meal. To my surprise, and for some unknown reason, they gave me a free upgrade to one of their best suites.

I said goodbye to GY and went up to the 29th floor to my room. This place is different from the other hotels; they are actually “managed apartments” – like renting an apartment, with kitchen, etc, but like a hotel in that there are all the usual hotel facilities. It’s going to be useful to have a washing machine with a drier! I have been trying not to use the hotel laundry service on this trip, as it is rather pricey.

A quick shower later, I was back down to meet W’s mum to take me to the restaurant for the meal. H, F and L were waiting for us. We had hotpot. I was able to manage a few things from the non-spicy section, but I preferred the jiaozi and a mushroom-shaped sweet food, of which I forget the name. It was great to see everyone again.

H is finishing a paper and has asked if I would proof-read it for her.

I had not realised that both F and L are teachers now – F is teaching Chinese, and L is teaching English. I feel rather ashamed as L pointed out that the job is not about the money. I know this full well, and yet… But, I have a job that I enjoy (even if that only lasts for a short time) and get paid better for it than if I was teaching. Is that so wrong? Am I really supposed to pack it all in and come to China?

I have nothing in England, and so nothing to lose, unless some miracle happens soon. I know God has His own plan and His own time; am I just trying to run away from it like Jonah?

Prince CaspianI keep thinking of C.S. Lewis’s book, Prince Caspian, where the children are trying to get to Caspian but are lost. Lucy sees Aslan and tells the others that he wants them to follow him, but they can’t see him, only Lucy can, and so they disbelieve and decide to go their own way, only to be routed by archers and have to turn back. In the night Lucy wakes up and meets Aslan again and talks with him, blaming the others for not following, she realises that she can’t blame them and should have followed alone if they disbelieved. Then she says everything is ruined asks Aslan if things would have been okay if they had followed, to which he replies that no one can know that – but she has a choice now; what will happen if she follows, what will happen if she doesn’t?

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