Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spring Break: Sichuan

Due to the crazy high cost and pain of trying to obtain an entry visa, I was not able to travel to Tibet this spring break, as I had originally planned. But, a large posse of students (including me) did journey to Sichuan for five days.

We flew into Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan and by all accounts, a pretty hip little city. Every time I leave Shanghai, I expect to see shanty towns and much more poverty, which is true in some cases, but Chengdu had a strip of high-end shopping that rivaled European capitals.

In addition to being known for spicy food (we ordered pig brains and yak meat...which we later believed to be dog...), Sichuan boasts an impressive panda reserve. This place was a serious step up from the Shanghai Zoo, but still had a couple of troubling cages. Perhaps more interesting than the pandas (if such a thing is possible) was the loads of panda merch EVERYWHERE nearby. In China, there's a cheap, streetside giftshop for every attraction imaginable.

Thanks to geopolitical factors, Sichuan has a considerable Tibetan influence. After a short stint in Chengdu, we hopped aboard a plane to Jiuzhaigou.