Saturday, August 01, 2009

YP Bonding Trip to Chengdu, China Day 4

11 July 2009

Time flies. We are now at our last leg of the 4-day bonding trip. After checking out from the hotel, YP Aljunied took a group picture.

Some facts about Chengdu:

There's a popular saying that goes "少不如川,老不如广" (If you're a youth, why not go to Sichuan? If you're an elderly, why not go to Guangzhou?).

A long time ago, there was a lunatic ruler that cut off all the left hands of soldiers and all the 3-inch feet of ladies upon his reign. He particularly adored a scholar, to a point that he felt weird not seeing him around. To prevent himself from missing the scholar, he killed the scholar. The killing in Chengdu was so rampant that the new county governor could not find a single person in the area.

The vacuum in Chengdu was quickly filled up by migrants from other parts of China. Perhaps due to this history, the Chengdu people are more open and tolerant to immigrants.

Sichuan dishes are spicy but the chilli was an imported spice from South America. Chilli helps to warm the body and thus was easily assimilated into the local society due to the cool weather. Mao Ze Dong once said, "吃辣椒搞革命,不吃辣椒不革命" (revolutionists eat chilli, non-revolutionists don't eat chilli).

The first visit is to Du Fu Thatched Cottage (杜甫草堂). Du Fu is a famous poet. During the Anshi rebellion, he resided in a cottage. This cottage is now turned into a tourist attraction.

A thatched cottage was rebuilt to depict the actual living condition of Du Fu.

The Hall of Odes feature the 7 famous poets in China's history.

Xin Qi Ji 辛弃疾

Su Dongpo 苏东坡

Li Bai 李白Qu Yuan 屈原

Tao Yuanming 陶渊明

Bai Juyi 白居易
Not forgetting, Du Fu 杜甫:

Tang Dynasty Artifacts:

Lunch was at a Chong Qing (also called Ba Guo 巴国) restaurant. Along the way, snapped some pictures for memory keepsake.

The bus stop:

Another patriotic billboard...

The Restaurant:

After a satisfying lunch, we headed to a silk factory to learn about how silk is manufactured from the silkworm.

The uniqueness of the Sichuan silk is that the cocoons contain two larva instead of the typical one. We were allowed to keep a cocoon.

Removing the cocoon from the larva:

The cocoon is then extracted to produce silk.

There are many benefits of using silk blankets and pillow covers, including the prevention of bed bugs and dust mites.

Following next was the visit to the Jinsha Site Musuem (金沙遗址博物馆), an archaeological museum.

With the tour guide Ying Yong:

The highlight and trademark of the site is the Sun-God birds of Jinsha site (太阳神鸟). It is a very thin piece of gold carved with the shape of a sun in the middle, surrounded by birds. After being discovered through an archaeological site, the authorities requested blacksmiths from all over China to reproduce an identical piece but none of them were able to do that. This is a symbol of pride for the Sichuan people.

Archaeology is really not for me...

During the travel to the airport, the tour guide shared many interesting insights:

Zhang Yi (who lived during the period of the Three Kingdoms) made an observation about rats in the padi fields and the toilets. Despite the fact that rats are scavengers, the rats at the padi fields are fat but those at the toilets are very thin. This led Zhang to conclude that being hardworking is not sufficient, sometimes the environment does matter.

Sichuan, also called Country of Shu (蜀国), has a saying that goes 蜀犬吠日, literally meaning Sichuan dogs bark at the sun. The idiom is used to mean getting worked up over small matters. Indeed, the sun rarely appears in the sky of Sichuan.

Guanxi 关系 is very embedded in the culture of the Chinese. Hospitals have long queues and a lot of times, people need to use guanxi to get themselves a place in the hospital. Everyday, about 1000 people make a living by helping patients wanna-be to queue outside the Huaxi Hospital. The wards are so packed that a 4-bed one would be converted into 6-bed one and there would be other patients sitting around the ward. Patients rarely get to see the doctor, who would be leading 10 trainees. To ensure a successful and smooth operation, the bribe must go to the doctor, nurse and the anaesthetician.

In June, when the weather gets hot, students will carry fans to school and fan themselves while the teacher conducts lessons. Their fans would carry the message "六月天气热的热,我的风扇借不得" (June's weather's very hot, don't even think about borrowing my fan).

Sichuan got its name at about year 1001 AD, when the authorities combined a few areas into one called 川峡四路, and thus the abbrieviation 四川 (Sichuan). Chengdu got its name from being the capital of Sichuan, 为一个 = 成都

The traditional Chinese marriage banquet in Sichuan would take about 3 days. This is because, relatives and friends might live very far away from the newly wed. The first 2 days would consist of mahjong sessions, ending off with the 3rd day when the wedding dinner is held. Many Sichuan people would try to find various reasons to throw a banquet as it is profitable ($ from angbaos).

Home Sweet Home~

Goodbye Chengdu!

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