Authorised strike

When cruise missiles are justified.

This afternoon’s adventure was a bit of a mixed bag. After the rain this morning, I thought that the rest of the day might be the same, but I looked out the window at about 2pm and found it was actually sunny. I’d decided I’d head north from Tianfu Square, but found that because of the construction of the Metro system, the road was blocked off and detours were necessary. 

Instead of heading north, I ended up bearing down on what I assume is the Chengdu Amusement Park and the Sichuan Television Tower. The latter seemed deserted. I’m not sure whether it’s been abandoned or was never completed, although it’s on the map. 

I also continued my search for Vanilla Coke, but without success. I went into a large branch of Trust Mart, but they had one, and by chance, I happened to bump into Parknshop. This is where the cruise missile strikes come in. As is typical in China, the ground floor is often one shop or many. Centurymart in Tongzhou was like that. Having parked my bike, I went into the building where they’re selling electronic goods. I walked in through the side door, but can find no escalators, stairs, lifts or anything else. I went back out and walked round the corner to the back of the building, but that’s flats. The security guard pointed me to the underground car park. Odd means of getting into the place, I thought. So I ended up roaming around in the underground carpark. There are plenty of signs all saying welcome to Parknshop, and the arrows pointed to the other end of the car park. But the lifts there didn’t seem to be working. I went down the stairs, but that was just more car parks; I went up the stairs, but that led to a locked door. I went up some other stairs, but that led to the lifts to the flats that are the upper part of the building. I went back outside and back round to the front of the building. There were lots of signs saying Parknshop. I walked along the front of the building and there, at the other end  where it’s invisible from inside the building, was the moving walkway up to the first floor of the supermarket. And after all that, did they have any Vanilla Coke? No. 

As you can imagine, I was severely annoyed by the least well-signposted entrance in world. 

As I was heading back towards Tianfu Square, I happened across my first branch of Xinhua. I’d been wondering where they’d all got to because it’s hard not to bump into them in Fuzhou. Apart from the bookshop on the south side of Tianfu Square and the small local bookshops, I’d seen nothing else. I went in and had a look round. I found that the shop had a reasonable selection of English language books, including one or two I wasn’t expecting to see such as The Vesuvius Club and The Big Over Easy. It seems they’ll have the new Harry Potter book in on the 21st, although I didn’t notice whether it was English or a Chinese translation. 

I bought a copy of Don Quixote, a book which I haven’t read in quite some time. 

My search for a decent map of Chengdu (which means one that’s not basically advertising and, by chance, there’s a map of Chengdu as well) continues as well. Of the two I have, the smaller one is covered with large-ish logos to mark the locations of China Mobile and China Petrocorp Stations, and the larger one seems to be a handy property development finder featuring prominently, although not limited to some outfit called 置信 (Zhìxìn). 

After skirting round Tianfu Square, I was going down 西御街 (Xīyù Jiē) towards Wenweng Lu when I noticed there was a large bookshop there called A Brief History of Time. Well, that’s what was written on the hoarding above the door. Perhaps after tea this evening, I might go and have a nose. 

I’ve noticed the near but not complete absence of two things in Chengdu – pedestrian bridges or subways. There’s an army of people in orange coats who spend most of their days directing people across the wide intersections. Fuzhou had such people in red coats, but they’d only come out during busy periods. Either way, bridges or subways would be a much better idea than a brigade of flag-waving, whistle-blowing orange coats. Where 南大街 meets 金盾路 (Jīndùn Lù) and 春熙路 (Chūnxī Lù) (which are really on and the same street), they have to march out into the traffic to stop the cars from 南大街 sweeping through even although I’m pretty certain there’s a visible light there which should prevent them from doing that. (I hasten to add that the function of a red traffic light, though clear enough in Western countries, is merely taken as impertinent advice here, and would be ignored if custom had not managed to get as far as persuading Chinese motorists that they probably ought to stop. Probably.)


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