火宫殿, Chairman Mao’s Favorite Restaurant, 2010

Huo Gong Dian–火宫殿 (the “Fire Palace”)–in Changsha 长沙, the capital of Hunan province, was a restaurant that Chairman Mao frequented. Some of its most famous dishes include charcoal-colored stinky tofu, pineapple bread, lamb kebabs, and Changsha doupi (, or dried beancurd). The charcoal stinky tofu tasted just as you would expect something called “charcoal” stinky tofu to taste. It was interesting. huogongWe also had a variety of dim sum-like mochi dishes, a spicy 粉 [‘he fen’, or flat rice noodle] dish, ba-wan (a translucent glutinous rice ball stuffed with mushrooms and bamboo shoot),  and my favorite of them all: pickled cabbage stir-fried in 4 different chilis. It was spicy to the point of tears and incapable of being eaten without rice. But it was mind-boggling-ly delicious. Jalapeno, something like red thai chilis, and different peppercorns. I’ve tried to remake it on my own on several occasions, but I can never get the sour, pickled cabbage taste.

Culturally, Huo Gong Dian is a temple fair that hosted folk shows, booths of local delicacies, and music. The tradition of Huo Gong Dian began in 26-21 B.C. by Emperor Ku (嚳) as a way to control fire disasters. Each character of 火宫殿 represents the Huxiang and Chuwu cultures, which are centered around the God of Fire. They also appropriately describe the unique spiciness of Hunan cuisine and the heat and humidity of Hunan’s climate.

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Our journey through China concluded in Changsha, with a visit to their historical museum, and a garden where scholars used to frequent (though I may be completely wrong about that part). Honestly can’t remember too much about that part.

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I do remember some of the most amazing 饅頭 ‘man tou’, or steamed buns. Reason one: they were really pretty. Reason two: they were so pillowy and soft, but still had the “bounce”/elasticity [ ‘tan xing’ in Chinese] of a Tempurpedic mattress. Omnom.

Zhangjiajie, the real world Avatar, China, 2010

zjj12010 in Zhangjiajie was still the year of Avatar–the movie of the blue humanoid species living on Pandora that broke box office records and surpassed Titanic as the highest-grossing film of all time–because James Cameron has cited the quartz-sandstone formations as his inspiration for Pandora. Heck, the Zhangjiajie even renamed the “southern Sky Column” mountains to “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” for a brief moment in time. The pillars of Zhangjiajie extend as high as 3,540 feet into the sky and have been molded through long years of erosion has been caused by expanding ice in the winter and the dense foliage that grows on the rocks.

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Your trip through Zhangjiajie begins with taking the 百龙电梯 [bai long dian ti] up 326 stories to the top of a cliff. The Bailong, aka Hundred Dragons, Elevator is a glass elevator that is claimed to be the highest and heaviest outdoor elevator in the world. But once you get up there, you  truly do feel like you’ve been transported into a different planet of floating mountains flush with greenery.

I wish I had pictures that better represented the beauty of Zhangjiajie, but it was such an overcast day that my point-and-shoot Canon simply couldn’t get the job done.

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We spent about 5 hours walking through the park, most of which was on level ground, even by the cliffsides. No strenuous hiking trails were taken (lucky me because I otherwise would have never made it down).

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To see the “First Arch Under Heaven”, we had to cross an old steel bridge that hung over 3,000 feet in the air. Don’t look down.

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We eventually took cable cars down into the valley of Zhangjiajie, to see the mountains from below rather than above. The valley is so deep that we probably spent about 10 minutes in the cable car–although my memory isn’t the clearest so don’t take my word for it. It was a very long ride though. While the view from the top was priceless, I definitely enjoyed the view from below even more. It’s a whole other feeling to see these colossal columns towering over you and to marvel at how unfortunate a death it would be if they chose to topple over at that moment. We also walked down a “healthy path”,  建康步道 [jian kang bu dao]. You’re supposed to walk across the 元寶 [yuan bao], or gold ingots, to stimulate the soles of your feet and promote better circulation. There was another path operating under the same principle, of just sharp stones sticking out of the ground. Not recommended if you’re wearing flats or sandals; I could feel it even through the thick soles of my sneakers.

It was over an hour past noon when we were finally done exploring the park. Hungry and thirsty, we were treated to a wonderful meal of Hunan dim sum.

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Pretty different menu from the Cantonese-style dim sum most people are used to. My mom and I were handed these wonderfully fluffy 包 [bao] stuffed with spicy red chilis, mushrooms, and tangy, pickled vegetables that gave the filling a crispy texture. Also delicious was the kudzu 葛根粉 tart: think of egg custard tarts, but with a clear, gooey filling that has sweetness of brown sugar.

My favorite was the purple and orange yams deep-fried in a shape of the spring roll. So amazingly delicious and unfortunately not available in restaurants I’ve been to other than this one. And can’t forget the vegetarian 叉燒酥 [ca sao su]–more commonly known as char siu–! Golden layers of flaky pastry coddling vegetarian ham marinated in a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, 紅腐乳 [hong fu ru] or red fermented bean curd, and dark soy sauce. Piping hot, sweet, sour, and savory all in one. What a meal.

Hunan Province, China, 2010

We left Sichuan Province after descending from Mt. Emei to visit Zhangjiajie 張家界 National Forest Park in Hunan 湖南 Province. Our group arrived and checked in fairly early at the airport; what was there to do with 2 hours to kill? Get a cheap 90-minute foot massage! Signet Tours even covered it for us. mosquito

But no one expected that we wouldn’t be the ones enjoying the massage the most. A swarm of mosquitoes–colonized somewhere near the airport–had apparently been drawn to the inviting smell of fresh tourist blood and poured into the massage parlor. It was a massacre. While the microscopic pests had won the battle, we eventually won the war after an arduous hour of swatting. We were fortunate in that the massage parlor carried electric swatting nets: instant death. For the entire duration of the massage, it rained dead mosquitoes. I swear I’m not even exaggerating when I say we killed over hundred. I alone zapped 30 to a crisp.

We were survivors, albeit with burgeoning, red and itchy welts starting to form over our bodies. Our reward was dinner at a wonderful restaurant in Zhangjiajie: 亭里香特色餐館 [ting li xiang te se can guan]. ‘特色’ means ‘specialty’ and ‘餐館’ is the word for restaurant. The specialties served here were very traditional Hunan cuisine.

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Appetizers began with green raisins, thousand-year-old egg, and homemade egg-tofu steamed with mushroom broth in a wooden pot. Thousand-year-old egg, or 皮蛋 [pi dan], is made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for anywhere between several weeks to several months. Its origins came from 600 years ago in Hunan, during the Ming Dynasty, when–as legend has it–a homeowner discovered that a shallow pool of slaked lime, used for mortar in constructing his home months before, housed duck eggs. He set out immediately to produce more after finding the creamy, custard-like yolk and translucent jelly-like whites irresistibly delectable. They sound and look strange, but they are, indeed, delicious.

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Included in our vegetarian feast was also 百页 ‘bai ye’, pressed tofu sheets that have a delightfully chewy texture, stir-fried with some fresh hot peppers. Hunan people are famous for not being able to not have chili or peppercorns in their savory foods. So if you’re not used to eating incredibly spicy food, you may want to pair your meals with a glass of milk. Two other traditional Hunan dishes that I particularly enjoyed were the black sesame, deep-fried mochi (top right) and the 葛根粉 [ge geng feng] soup. 葛根粉 is the “kudzu” vine: since 200 BC in Chinese medicine, it has been used to treat anything from hangovers to upset stomachs to diziness to vomiting. Some health providers today even use it by IV to treat stroke, as it is known for increasing blood circulation in the heart and brain. Gustatorily, it is a starchy, viscous and sweet soup made from just the kudzu powder, boiling water, and sugar. Worth trying–don’t be put off by the strangeness!

 

峨嵋山 Mount Emei, China 2010

The bleary, overcast sky did not bode well for us when we left for Mount Emei in the morning.

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Mount Emei is the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China and traditionally known as the place of englightment of Puxian Pusa 普賢菩薩, a boddhisattva. My mom, a Buddhist, was awaiting for the chance to climb Mount Emei and to pay homage at one of the many Buddhist temples near the mountain top. Mount Emei was selected as the location of the first Buddhist temple built in China in the 1st Century. The ascent to Jingding [金頂], our destination, is an hour’s hike from the mountain’s peak.

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We took the cable car up to Jingding, where the gusts were something fierce. The fog was so dense that we literally could not see beyond 10 feet in front of us. All of Mt. Emei was shrouded in icy mist–something my mom and I were not dressed for. Neither of us expected the temperatures to drop below 50 with windchill. After about 20 minutes of running around taking pictures of the temple, I was ready to head downhill. Most of the people in our tour group took refuge in the convenience store at the peak.

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We walked several steps down to see wild monkeys toying with items (water bottles and even a camera) that were likely stolen from tourists sucked into their cuteness.They taunted us with sad, pleading eyes as they snacked on corn or bagged peanuts.

The further we continued down the mountain steps, the more my fear of heights started to take over. Looking down, I saw only steps upon steps–a few hundred. My legs grew weak and my mom suggested that perhaps I should ride the 滑竿 [hua gan] down. 滑竿 is a method of transportation were the passenger is carried by two people in essentially what is a stretcher made of bamboo; the seat is merely a slight bump for your bottom to rest on and all you can do to not fall off is to hold onto the sides.

I didn’t think about this when I agreed to get on. It ended up being far more terrifying than just walking down. I was lifted over the shoulders of scraggly, weathered old men and I held on for my life as they raced down the face of the mountain, carrying me at a 30-degree angle. I may or may not have shed a few frightful tears. When we reached the bottom of the steps, I stumbled off the cot, legs nearly buckling and hands tangibly shaking. Never again.

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We concluded our final night in Sichuan province with a few of their specialties:  湯圓 [tang yuan]/glutinous rice balls filled with black sesame paste, and 擔擔麵 [dan dan mian]/spicy noodles served with chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, scallions, crushed peanuts, and some white sesame sauce. The 湯圓 was the best I’ve ever had anywhere; I still daydream about it once in a while. Its skin was amazingly “Q”–tender but chewy, still slightly sticking to your teeth–and the black sesame filling was perfectly sweet.

And oh boy were the 金银饅頭 [jin yin man tou], or deep-fried steamed buns, amazing! There was this thick, crunchy golden layer of fried goodness; once you broke it open and the steam from the hot buns kissed your face, you’d take that pillowy-white inside and dip it in sweetened condensed milk. Mmmmm.

Leshan Giant Buddha, China 2010

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We flew out from Jiuzhaigou early in the morning to explore one of the Buddhist wonders of the world: 樂山大佛 [le shan da fuo]. 樂山大佛, the Leshan Giant Buddha, was a large sculpture carved out of a cliff face during the Tang Dynasty. This masterpiece is the largest stone Buddha in the world and the tallest pre-modern statue in the world–it even survived the 2008 Sichuan earthquake with nary a scratch.

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Because the line would have been impossible to get through, our tour arranged for us to view Leshan Giant Buddha from the water. That way we would not have to deal with the rain or be standing on weathered, stone steps dug into the sides of the mountain. The statue stands 233 feet tall and the Buddha’s shoulders reach as far as 91 feet wide. To put that into perspective: 23 stories high and 9 stories across.

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What a feat of engineering.

Locals have a saying that goes, “the mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”. This arose partly because the mountain in which Leshan Giant Buddha resides is also thought to be shaped like a slumbering Buddha when viewed from the river and 樂山大佛 sits as its heart.

The Chinese monk who led construction of the Maitreya Buddha in 713 hoped that the presence of Buddha would calm turbulent waters that plagued shipping vessels traveling down the river. He was right. Leshan Giant Buddha sits at the intersection of the Minjiang, Dadu, and Qingyi rivers, and so much stone was removed from the cliff face and deposited into the river that the currents were altered and water became safe for passing ships.

Even more impressive is the drainage system installed into Leshan Giant Buddha–which operates to this day. The pipes carry away water after rain to reduce weathering.

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We returned to our hotel to dry off after the river cruise ended; our accommodation for the night was at Hongzhu Shan Hotel “红珠山宾馆”. A famous hotel regarded as one of the most beautiful places to stay in Mt. Emei, ” 峨嵋山” [e mei shan],  it’s hidden in the midst of dense forest and even has its own lake. Hongzhu Shan Hotel is famous because many Chinese dignitaries, such as Deng Xiaoping (who lead China towards a market economy after the death of Chairman Mao), choose to stay there when they are in the Emei area.

Although the rooms were huge, when we stayed there was a lot of construction going on and as a result our bathroom remained partly unfinished…certain tiles were missing and the handles on our sink sometimes came off. Sad. But there was a rather adorable note from the hairdryer that really brought everything together. It reads:

“I can help you to:

                                         – relief aching after climbing the Mt. Emei

                                         – dry your shoes

                                         – dry your hair

                                         – wish you have a nice day!

I was going to need all of that hairdryer’s help for the next day–a hike up Mt. Emei to Baoguo Temple.

Jiuzhaigou (2), China 2010

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My recommendation is the InterContinental Resort Jiuzhai Paradise, 九寨天堂九寨天堂.  Paradise indeed. Wonderfully spacious rooms–bigger than any you would stay in Europe, Japan, or the States. We had a living room and patio that opened up to a stunning view of the mountains.

The architecture is wonderfully ambitious, with a biosphere of sorts serving as its lobby (if I remember correctly). There are small rivers that run through the dome with colorful waterfowl waddling about to complement the surrounding forestry and a stone “village” that wraps around the dome’s perimeter.

tiantang2For dinner we had what is called “養生” [yang sheng], or a “healthy” hot pot dinner. “菌煲” [jun bao] translates to “fungus pot”. A wild mushroom stew, basically. The broth was brewed with Chinese herbs and medicine. A very woodsy/earthy and hearty meal. My mom and I were limited in our hot pot pickings, e.g. cabbage, dates, some taro, an egg or two, but those who weren’t vegetarian had choices of different marbled meats and even seafood!

Our one night in Jiuzhaigou concluded with an unforgettable performance showcasing traditional Tibetan music, dance, and storytelling. 藏迷 [zang mi], or “Tibetan Mystery” is the name of the show if you’re interested in doing something in the evening at Jiuzhaigou. The heroine of 藏迷 is Old Ma, a woman from Jiuzhaigou who dreams of visiting Lhasa.

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Accompanied by only her pet sheep, Old Ma prostrates herself every 3 steps of the way to Lhasa. She finally reaches Lhasa after 3 years but unfortunately perishes in a snowstorm and is sent into the spirit world for judgement. The most touching portion of the show for me was how closely and dearly she held her sheep near her death and how the sheep never left her side. Old Ma moved on to endure tests by various gods and spirits, and is eventually found to have accumulated enough good karma to enter “heaven”.

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藏迷 is a visual feast: so many beautiful costumes and so much wonderful dancing. My favorite was the “yak dance”, although I hear it isn’t actually a traditional Tibetan dance. It was a cute couples’ dance between the women and men that the mushy-gushy person in me really enjoyed. The music is wonderfully surreal, with the women hitting notes so high that I was amazed it was within my human hearing range. Overall, an absolutely otherworldly experience and my advice is to go if you still have energy at the end of the day!

Jiuzhaigou གཟི་རྩ་སྡེ་དགུ།, China 2010

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Although I haven’t been to many places, few of the ones I’ve visited are as magnificent as the landscape of Jiuzhaigou, 九寨溝. But boy was it a long, hard road to get there. After the Sichuan earthquake in 2008–clocking in at a magnitude of 8.0–many of the roads were still impassable.

Unfortunately, the main expressway was essentially destroyed after the earthquake  and the remaining route to 九寨溝 was a winding, 5-hour long rock, sand, and potholed obstacle course. I’m talking one-way travel here. My advice: strap yourself down to your seat and if you’re one of those lucky people who can sleep on jittery buses, you’re set. I was forced to endure jerking, jolting, and lurching–hitting my head multiple times on the bus window–all the while needing to use the restroom for the longest 5 hours of my life. Learn from my mistakes!

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What was also slightly unfortunate was the weather–rainy, slightly chilly, moist, and cloudy. But in spite of the lack of sunshine to illuminate the valley, the vibrant colors of Jiuzhaigou’s lakes and rivers nevertheless shone through. Jiuzhaigou Valley sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and multi-level waterfalls, lakes, and snow-kissed peaks  stretch across its 180,000 acres and through elevations of 6,600 to 14,800 ft.

The name, 九寨溝, literally means “nine village valley” and takes its name from the nine Tibetan villages running along its length. Famous inhabitants include the giant panda and golden snub-nosed monkey, both of which are nearly impossible to spot due to the massive tourism at 九寨溝 .

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Our first stop was the welcome center: a 3-storied bazaar of food, Tibetan tapestries, clothing, and Yak-bone combs and dining wares. The lobby of shopping was a kaleidoscope maze of colors. And of course, some Engrish in good humour found in the women’s bathroom: “the disposable hygienic chamberpot sits in the gasket paper”. Meaning? I have no clue.

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Jiuzhaigou is absolutely worth 2-3 days of visiting; however, given the 10-hour travel time roundtrip, it’s more feasible to make it all happen within a day. There sadly aren’t places for visitors to stay within the park. Our tour group was given less than 3 hours to explore what we could of the park and it was rather pitiful. I wish I could jot down a list of what lakes and waterfalls to visit, but in all honesty, each is worth visiting. Whatever you see will be worth it, no matter how much time you have or how much you saw.

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Our day in Jiuzhaigou was cut short by a 90-minute lunch. Had we not been traveling with a tour group, I would have definitely forsaken lunch to see more of the park!

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Fooooood!  Potatoes, naan/sesame bread, and lots of meat. I forget what we had as vegetarians, but not much.

Also, be sure to get yourself some 紅景天 [hong jing tian], an herb called “rhodiola rosea”, if you tend to get altitude sickness. Which could be very likely given that most aren’t accustomed to hiking at 10,000ft+. Tibetans consider it to be a sacred herb and grows mostly in harsh, cold climates.

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My mom and I bought two bottles preemptively and it actually helped with a lot of my motion sickness. They’re a pretty popular tourist necessity, so don’t worry about being stranded with altitude sickness in Jiuzhaigou Valley.

Huanglong, China 2010

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九寨溝機場 [jiu zhai gou ji chang], or Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport, is the third highest airport in China at 11,312ft above sea level. We flew in from Chengdu in the morning; a lot of members of our tour group were worried about altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is a common concern for people traveling to Jiuzhai Gou, 九寨溝, so the airport actually supplies small canisters of oxygen and sells Tibetan herbal medicine to cure the sickness.

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To-do list: Huang Long, 黃龍 [huang long]. The road to Huang Long was one of the most beautiful I’ve traveled in China–quiet, lush countryside with herds of grazing yak and sheep.

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We made a quick pit stop for lunch to eat the local food of Songpan County, which is composed of Tibetan, Qiang, Han, and Hui people. The fresh, woody mushrooms and pan-fried mantou (steamed buns) were some of my favorite dishes from that meal. Was so ready to hike with energy reserves replenished!

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Although I certainly didn’t have the stamina that a local we ran into did. The elevation of Huanglong runs between 5500-18300ft, so watching a 50-60 year old man sprint up the trail with minimal oxygen and about 100lbs on his back was awesomely impressive. As we hiked up through Huanglong Valley, which is a little over 2 miles, I felt increasingly short of breath. When concerns about altitude sickness were first voiced, I scoffed at it because, hey, I was young and worked out! But over a mile in and some 11,700ft up…I was tired. Oof. It was then that I understood the necessity of the oxygen cabins that we passed along the way. A few of the senior (70-80 year old) members of our tour actually had to stop in for oxygen.

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But man was it worth it! My photography skills aren’t particularly telling of the beauty there, but it’s no wonder that Huanglong was a buzzing hive of tourists. It was nigh impossible to stand your ground and I was thrown around like a rag doll by pushy tourists vying for the same spots to take pictures as I was.

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The iridiscent travertine terraces are formed by calcite desposits–limestone deposited by mineral springs (mostly hot springs). Huanglong Valley’s main body of water starts from the ancient Buddhist/Benbo temple at the top of the valley. The Multi-Colored Pond, 五彩池 [wu cai chi], has over 693 pools! Unfortunately, when we went to Huanglong, we saw that climate change had already left its mark: terraces and streams once overflowing with water were dead, dessicated.

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Regardless, Huanglong Valley remains one of my favorite places visited to date and I would return in a heartbeat if I had the money and time. Snow-capped peaks and dramatic valleys of verdant flora–and wonderfully clean and refreshing air to boot. A different China from the infamous smog of Beijing and Shanghai.

Sichuanese Opera, Chengdu, 2010

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After intense cuddling with panda cubs and browsing dozens of street vendors, we concluded our day in Chengdu with a night of Sichuanese Opera. According to locals, the best place to see Sichuan Opera is “屬風雅韻” [Shufengyayun Sichuan Opera House]. The stage is inside a famous Taoist temple, which has functioned for over a hundred years. Of all the interesting acts on the set list, we were all most excited to see the face-changing, or ” 變臉” [bian lian]. Face-changing is a trade secret that is traditionally passed down from one generation to the next within families. Women were not allowed to learn the secret, since women were married out of the family.

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There are four ways of face-changing: blowing dust to obscure the face “吹脸” [chui lian], beard manipulation “髯口功夫” [hu kou gong fu], pulling down masks “扯脸” [che lian], and face-dragging “抹脸” [mo lian]–where the actor drags greasepaint to change his appearance. Switching between masks was like flipping a light switch on and off. So, so fast. Each mask portrays different characteristics and personalities of the characters.

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We were also given a traditional Chinese music concert, with cymbals, brass, and a type of “胡琴” [hu qin], or vertical fiddles (usually two-stringed). There was a very talented “二胡” [er hu]–two-stringed fiddle–player, as well as an amazing “簫” [xiao]–a vertical bamboo flute–player. The others were less memorable. I could never adjust to is how high-pitched and “squeaky” Chinese instruments sometimes sound.

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The shadow puppets were great to watch to. Fluid and elegant. Seamless transitions. Hand puppets came to life under the masterful manipulations of the puppeteers. They too, could do face-changing, or dress changing, play instruments, dancing, or fight against each other–even could change their facial expressions. Quite amazing.

After intermission, we were treated to a short opera of iridescent robes donned by ancient war heroes battling in the struggle for power.

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The night concluded with “滾燈” [gun deng], or “rolling light”: a technique unique to Sichuanese Opera.  “Rolling light” originated in the Han dynasty and the story stems from a husband and wife arguing over the husband’s excessive gambling; as punishment for his addiction, the wife forced the husband to perform progressively difficult stunts to perform. The last of these stunts was balancing a flaming bowl on his head–while rolling, tumbling, and diving over and under chairs, tables, and benches.

If you’re ever in Chengdu and want to see Chinese music and performance art in a nutshell, this is the place to go. It’s tons of fun and full of things you would not find outside of Sichuan province. (Also, there’s free tea, massages, and ear wax removal (?!?!) provided).

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behind the scenes look

Panda attack in Chengdu, 2010

The second day we were in Chengdu was the day my mom and I had been eagerly anticipating: a visit to the panda breeding center!

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It was 2 hours of cooing and ogling fluffy, pudgy panda bears. Never have I seen so many pandas in one place! I think there are about 80 or so now. The best part about going to Chengdu to see pandas versus simply going to a zoo with pandas is that you get to hold a panda cub! At a hefty price of USD $60. You’re handed the panda cub and given 3 minutes of intense cuddling. What happens is that you hand them your camera and the caretakers go crazy with it to get as many shots of you with the panda as they can. Is it worth it to shell out $20/min? Oh yes. It melted my heart having this warm ball of fur in my arms, happily munching and squealing in delight at its juicy piece of bamboo. So cute.

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Once our time with the bumbling teddy bears came to an end, we visited Dujiangyan 都江堰, an irrigation infrastructure that has been present since 256 BC and built during the Qin dynasty. Levees were constructed to prevent fast-flowing spring melt-water from bursting the banks. Long sausage-shaped baskets of woven bamboo filled with stones called “zhulong” were what the levees were made from. Also particular to this impressive piece of hydraulic engineering is the “Yuzui 鱼嘴”, which is so named because it resembles the mouth of a fish and divides the oncoming water into inner and outer streams. panda2

It was a lot more beautiful in the fog: gave it an air of mystery. Once the fog lifted, however, there wasn’t much to see since the river was so small.dujiang

I always find it funny how Chinese men like to eat with their shirts rolled up over their beer bellies. As a woman, I’d simply be too self-conscious to do anything like that. While the engineering of Dujiangyan was fascinating, I definitely took more interest in the 15 different types of chilies proffered at the stand nearby. Would’ve loved to take some home, yet I never really had any good experience with eating food sold on the street in China…dujiang2

Ironically, we spent a good hour of the afternoon just street food shopping on 錦里古街 [jin li gu jie], or Jinli Old Street, a street with Qing Dynasty-styled architecture. The running theme is “Three Kingdoms”.

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There was food, arts, and games. Delicious fast and fresh Sichuan food made to order. Beautiful woodwork and glassblowing by street vendors. Crossbow shooting games–like an older version of the plastic water gun games we have at carnivals in the US. So much to do and see! But we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, so after exploring the Chengdu bazaar, we finally left to eat a late lunch.

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Wish I had good things to report about the delicious food we ate, but I honestly don’t remember what we had! There wasn’t much for vegetarians since our tour guide apparently forgot to order for us…whoops!