A regular in the park by the river, Chengdu
I have to admit it --- I'm more than a little bit surprised by what a fantastic time we're having here in China. I expected we'd enjoy ourselves to some extent, but I also expected ups and downs, and more of the latter than the former.
Has China changed that much, or have we? It's probably a bit of both.
An hour or so ago we returned to Chengdu from a town in northeastern Sichuan called Langzhong. We tagged along with a fellow food blogger who aimed to find out how the town's famous baoning vinegar is made. She wasn't 100% successful in her quest, but did talk an amazing game in the process. (I'd forgotten how necessary is the art of understated persuasion here.)
But in the end, the vinegar didn't really matter, because Langzhong is a wonderful dream of a relatively un-prettified gucheng ('ancient' town) that we were more than happy to while away 48 hours in.
As we drove into Chengdu after 5 1/2 hours on the bus, the city's ugly apartment blocks loomed tall and dreary against the featureless gray sky (we have enjoyed exactly one day of sort-of sun since we arrived here 10 days ago -- absolutely normal weather in Chengdu). For about a minute I wished we were back in the countryside ... but then I started thinking about Chengdu's laid-back hustle and bustle, how the streets smell like hot oil and chilies at lunchtime and in the evening, about the bubbly ayi up the street from our lodging who mixes a mean liang mian (cold noodles with chili) and the tea house next to the river where we spent a couple of pleasant hours on Monday afternoon, and especially about all of the treats we haven't yet tracked down ....
I'm happy to be back. So much so, in fact, that we're extending our stay.
Which means -- if you follow me on Twitter (see the righthand sidebar) I'll continue to be silent (and won't be able to respond to direct messages -- email me instead) for at least another ten days. I'm trying to post updates on Facebook, so feel free to seek me out there. And we've got many posts on EatingAsia to come, hopefully sooner rather than later.
In the meantime it's dinner hour, and we're off to tuck into yet another superb meal.