When depth becomes inverted

Chengdu, city of substance.

I went in search of a bookshop with a decent selection of art books. The shop that’s on the corner of 玉林路 and the 1st Ring Road is really for school children. The foreign languages bookshop up on the corner of 科华北路 doesn’t have any art books as far as I could see, although I thought it did.

I cruised into town, but saw nothing apart from small local bookshops, which are of no interest. I did a search via Baidu and found that someone had asked the same question (in Chinese). I find that there’s somewhere on 武侯祠大街, which I’ll go and visit in a moment. Whether it’s any more useful than any of the other bookshops I’ve visited so far, I’ll find out. There are several shops to investigate on the list I got from Baidu.

But the matter still remains. Everywhere else I’ve been, there’s always a branch of the Xinhua Bookshop with a huge supply of art books. There’s always a Xinhua Bookshop or two. Fuzhou had several branches of Xinhua. Chengdu has, er, the clothes district.

And that protest I thought I saw the other day – not only was it not a protest, it was, in fact, advertising. When I was out near the university I saw bunches of kids carrying placards advertising broadband and mobile phones, and there were more of them in town chanting away.

We have a winner. His name’s Barry, and he’s a first-time caller from Cherry Hinton. It turns out that the bookshop on 武侯祠大街 sits on top of the KFC that’s on the corner of the 1st Ring Road. It was only when I looked at the sign more closely that I realised the character for “book” was written in its traditional form (書) and there, above the door, was a large window where you could see people browsing the shelves. This is a proper-sized bookshop.

Anyway, as I’m heading through the checkout, I spot a copy of 成都地图册 (Chéngdū Dìtúcè). At last, a decent-sized map of the place. The two maps that I have are, as I think I’ve said, more about advertising than they are about the city. Since the map has been divided into sections, the names of the streets are all much easier to read. But I note that the same naming error of that street out in 石人湾小区 is made in the book. All the maps say one thing, but the street signs are saying another.

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