Tuesday, 1 December 2009
CHILLING TO CHENGDU
The rain in Yibin (where I posted my previous report) was just the start of an unusually cold spell for S-China so early in winter. According to the weather reports there was snow all around us, but Leana and I were fortunate enough to be spared the snow. We did, however, have to contend with some icy rain, and even when it wasn't raining we had to cycle with a few layers of clothing on. For a change there were no serious hills on the route, and we stopped over at a couple of interesting places. The city of Zigong is historically known for it's salt wells, and more recently for it's dinosaur fossils and renowned museum (obviously the dinosaurs were waiting patiently to be discovered since long before the salt mining). Leshan, another Sichuan province city on the Min river, is a favourite tourist destination mainly due to it's ancient "Grand Buddha". In the freezing drizzle we took a sight-seeing ferry down the river to see this 71 m high sitting Buddha which has been carved from the river-side cliffs. In another city at the end of one particularly long freezing day, I walked out to get some necessities, and decided to buy some fried potatoes from an old lady on the corner. I was still wearing my rain jacket and cycling tights, and hadn't yet washed the "road muck" off myself - so I probably looked like something which the cat may have left on the doorstep. However, the old lady refused to serve me, and instead she threatened to clobber me with her food ladle (the beard probably added to the consternation, and I've since had it trimmed again). As we approached Chengdu the area along the road became increasingly built-up (with endless high-rise buildings almost all the way from Leshan - more than 150 km away). Chengdu is certainly the largest and most crowded city which I've visited in China, and we spent an exciting hour or more in the rush-hour darkness being directed to all corners of the earth in search of Sim's Hostel - which we eventually found. Distances cycled since Yibin were:- Zigong 107 km; Rongxian 48 km; Leshan 92 km; Meishan 89 km; and Chengdu 98 km.