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 –
Dave is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Go Backpacking and Feastio. He's been to 66 countries and lived in Colombia and Peru. Read the full story of how he became a travel blogger.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Monday 25th of January 2010
Great to know, thanks!
Monday 25th of January 2010
Surprisingly, I didn't have trouble getting to Go Backpacking or other sites when I was in Chengdu. That is until Tibetans began to riot in Lhasa, and video footage started to get out. I remember China cut off access to YouTube for at least a few days around that time, and probably more.
I found the best source of info was a traveler's blog (he was already in Lhasa) and the Thorntree forums in Lonely Planet.
My friend Charlie has been in Chengdu over 5 years, and knows all about this stuff. He's also started a new blog, and been writing about how to get past the blocks using a proxy.
Sunday 24th of January 2010
Can you talk a bit about what sort of internet censorship (if any) you encountered while you were in China?
Friday 18th of April 2008
Wow, couchsurfing sure saves you a TON of money! I've noticed in countries where you couchsurf you save about 25-50$ a day- probably from the added advantages of not needing to eat out for breakfast and lunch if your host feeds you. Also, you usually save on transportation.
Plus (from my view point) you have better stories!!!!
As soon as we get a couch, I'm going to register us for couchsurfing.com....
Thursday 17th of April 2008
Yea China :shock: was a good stop sounds like to me glad things went as well as they did!! Tibet :cry: I guess in a few years time you will have to make a trip back!!!! keep safe