I got back from Chengdu yesterday afternoon, where I’d been since last Tuesday. Internet access was intermittent at best: long periods of getting nowhere via my Internet helper were followed by short periods of access, which were enough to post some brief comment on Facebook before the connection was lost again. It was annoying and frustrating, and any idea I might’ve had about posting here had to go out of the window.
The flight to Chengdu went without a hitch. The city wasn’t completely grey and dismal while I was there, but to make up for that, it was utterly horrid yesterday with heavy cloud and dull haze, which eventually turned into rain (though not till after I’d departed).
I was on the noisy side of the hotel overlooking 滨江路 (or whatever the road is on the west side of 南大街; 锦里东路, which is a little odd because 锦里 is probably about a kilometre south of the river) where the traffic a.) never seems to stop and b.) seldom knows how to stay in lane.
The traffic in Chengdu is possibly worse than ever, and in places, cyclists are force to take rather circuitous routes to get about. It’s not longer possible to cross 人民南路 on the south side of Tianfu Square (from 西 to 东御街 [御 yù “imperial”]) without going south to the first intersection and doing a painfully slow U-turn there. It makes the driving in Wuxi look civilised.
I had some transport for the first time, a racing bike loaned to me by Linda’s best friend. It taught me that I’ve grown out of racing bikes and their cripplingly hard saddles, and their low-slung handlebars, which forced me to bend uncomfortably over the machine. On the other hand, it reminded me how much better narrow-gauge tyres are (which it had), and decent brakes (which it didn’t have).
Linda and I took a trip to Ikea where I bought some flannels, but had not intended to, and had a look at a chair for the study to get me off this kitchen chair. There’s now an Ikea in Wuxi, and a bus which goes out there, but I need to ask someone which number.
We went to High Fly for tea one night. The staff who were there in my day all seem to have gone, and the menu seems to have changed its focus to steak with pizza being reduced to an also-ran, it seemed to me.
On Friday, Linda and I went out to Raffles City, which has been under construction for about the past four years. The place is where the Sichuan (?) Museum of Culture had been when I first arrived in Chengdu. Raffles is, obviously, a Singaporean development, and contains the usual posh shops. It also has the first Mainland branch of Treat, which is actually part of the ParknShop empire. I knew the name was familiar, but I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it until I checked online. It is, of course, the supermarket at the end of the exit from the Kowloon Tong MTR station when you head to Festival Walk. It had a wide range of imported stuff, although the wines were on the stupidly expensive side.
Back in Wuxi, I found that M&G R1 pens have vanished from the shelves, including the red ones, which often linger after the black ones have gone. Still no sign of Nutella in Carrefour, but the Frico Gouda is back after an inexplicable absence.
Saw a white Audi R8 outside 远东百货 yesterday, and then a white Bentley Continental SuperSport on the side lane into Jinma. The only exceedingly expensive car I saw in Chengdu was a mid-blue Porsche cabrio.
The fun and games begin again tomorrow, but I could do with another week or month or so before then.