In planning my trip around the world, I always thought of China as my gateway to Tibet, rather than a destination unto itself.
The language barrier concerned me, it was a huge country, and I didn't feel too curious about it.
Since I couldn't travel to Tibet, it allowed me the second week in Chengdu to explore and experience the culture.
I savored the spicy food, enjoyed the endless cups of tea, and found myself growing to appreciate the people more and more.
That's not to say I didn't find the government propaganda resulting from the Tibetan protests to be far out of line.
- crossing the border from Hong Kong to Shenzhen (mainland China)
- meeting and eating with Michelle and David
- beating Adam in my first game of snooker
- Couchsurfing with Charlie in Chengdu
- arranging my train ticket and permit to Tibet (despite not being able to go)
- visiting the Tibetan neighborhood in Chengdu
- touring the panda bear research base
- exploring DuFu's cottage and several monasteries
- drinking lots of tea in the parks
- visiting tea shops
- picking up daily snacks (specifically ice cream cones) at the convenience store adjacent to Charlie's apartment
- visiting People's Park
- hanging out with Charlie's girlfriend Jody, and other friends Jovian and Sascha (Fodor's writer, aspiring Lonely Planet writer and super vagabond)
- going out to clubs and bars – The Hemp House, Nanuna, Fair Club, 88, Cafe Panam(e)
- visiting Chinese and Tibetan spas (despite the Ba Guan treatment)
- playing Guitar Hero on Playstation 2 (a lot)
- video arcades
- Sichuan Opera
Eating a different dish for almost every meal of my 2.5 weeks in the country (and enjoying them all).
My favorite was spicy pork dumplings. Most exotic included pig's tail, chicken gizzards, and pig's brain.
Authentic Chinese food is nothing like what I used to in America. It was far more flavorful and spicy (at least in Sichuan).
# of Nights Couchsurfing –
Average Daily Budget –