Chengdu’s Tibetan neighborhood is located near WuHou Temple, southwest of the city’s center. Despite my plans to head toward Tibet itself, I felt a neighborhood visit would serve as a nice appetizer for the main course.
After the taxi dropped me off, and I got my bearings, I began to explore the stores which lined both sides of the street. I found everything fascinating. Buddhist paintings called thangkas were more numerous than I’d ever seen, though the vast majority were cheap prints (I’m holding out for the real thing). Jewelery and prayer beads of varying quality were everywhere. Prayer wheels, tea cups, Buddha statues of all sizes, incense, and reams of prayer flags were the status quo all of a sudden.
My curiosity about what I was seeing lead me to move from store to store at a snail’s pace. It felt weird to be browsing the same items as maroon-robed Buddhist monks. Every few stores someone would speak English well enough for me to gather a little bit more information. I had to resist buying everything I saw. Much of it seemed to be made in Nepal, and since I would be going there too, I figured it’d all be cheaper if I waited.
As a break from window shopping, I ducked into a Chinese barber shop where I managed to arrange a shaved head for $1.50 (on par with the cost in Bali). By the time I headed to WuHou Temple, it was closing time. I noticed Jinli Lu, a narrow pedestrian mall adjacent to the temple complex, and headed down it as day gave way to dusk, and red lanterns began to light up overhead.