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Day 3 – Arriving in Chengdu

Posted by in China | May 17, 2013

Up early to catch my flight, the hotel ordered a licensed taxi for me, and I was charged a reasonable fair for his services. It was about ¼ of what I paid on arrival, and a tenth of that was a highway toll. It brought to mind the U-turn my driver had made two days earlier, almost certainly an attempt to avoid the charge. It felt so good to be treated honestly and with respect, that for the first time on my trip I gave the driver a tip. It would not be long however until there was an opportunity for another lesson to be learned. Let’s call it Lesson #3: “always look exactly like you know what you are doing, even if you are completely clueless.”

Beijing’s Terminal 3 is a massive new facility. Wandering somewhat aimlessly through the check in area to find the right kiosk a young woman took me for what I am, and easy mark. Only this time I didn’t mind being taken for a ride. She took my flight information, passport and bag and cut to the front of the right check in line. What might have taken 30-40 minutes was over and done with inside of 3 minutes. Although I did feel a little miffed at being so easily picked out, $15CDN seemed like a reasonable fee to pay for such services. I was pleasantly surprised by the service on Air China, and as there were plenty of empty seats I was able to get a pair to myself with a view.

Chengdu like Beijing is a metropolis, with more than 14,000,000 in the city and surrounding areas. I had a few hours on arrival to explore the city, and I made the most of them. visiting the site of famed poet Du Fu’s thatched cottage and the Temple of Marquis Wu. The city of Chengdu is located at the heart of the fertile Chengdu plain in Sichuan province.  The plain has been an economically and culturally significant zone for more than 4000 years. The city of Chengdu has been the principal center or capital of that region since the 4th Century BC.

The Temple of Marquis Wu pays homage to an even earlier local hero, Zhuge Liang, the 2nd Century AD Shu Dynasty Prime Minister. An able and loyal commander, strategist, administrator and general, the posthumously titled Marquis of Wu is even more renowned than the King he served. A shrine was built to him after his death in the outskirts modern Chengdu. Statues of Zhuge, his administrators, generals and successors, some of which were made in the 1600’s adorn one of the shrines with tales of their deeds. It is at this same time that the Temples were rebuilt.

Du Fu (712-770AD) is a famous Chinese Tang dynasty poet. He is known as the poet saint. and some 1500 of his poems have survived. Du Fu took refuge during some troubled years in a thatched cottage he famously wrote of. The Du Fu thatched cottage site today features a multi-story pagoda roofed temple, a replica of his cottage, archeological ruins, and displays of his work.

After a long day of travel and exploring I passed out on return to my hotel room and didn’t wake up until the morning.

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