It’s been a whirlwind of a week. We’ve had sessions for 8 days in a row, but I’ve still had some time to explore the city.
When we’re not learning TEFL, Chinese, PC policy, or ways to keep safe and healthy, we spend a lot of time eating out with members of our cohort.
Chengdu is one of the larger cities that Peace Corps works in, and we’re fortunate to be a block away from a vegan restaurant that has a couple dishes I can eat. I’d wager that 30% of our 72-large cohort eat mostly vegetarian or completely vegetarian and as soon as 12:15 hits, we’ve occupied every seat in the tiny restaurant. The cashier and cooks are exceedingly kind to us and have started to bring us a spicy pickled vegetable as a side with our meals.
Located near Sichuan University, our locale of Chengdu is quite cosmopolitan. There are sandwich restaurants, Malaysian, Thai, and Indian restaurants, a Walmart (沃尔玛 wo4er3ma3) complete with some Western imports like Hunt’s Tomato sauce and Barilla Spaghetti, and of course, hundreds of Chinese restaurants with local specialties like dandan noodles (担担面 dan4dan4mian4), numbingly spicy hot pot (麻辣火锅 ma2la4huo3guo1), spicy rabbit head, and more I can’t possibly describe here 等等什么的。
Here are a few new things I’m getting used to:
- Drinking and buying bottled water (at Walmart, none the less. My environment-loving soul is dying a bit)
- The time zone (15 hours ahead of the West Coast)
- Not putting toilet paper in the toilet (I think have this one down)
- Squatty potties (still trying to figure these ones out, tbh)
- Being a pedestrian in a place with, shall we say, liberal and creative traffic patterns
We also live next to an extraordinary bamboo park, which has hundreds of species of bamboo there. I had no clue so many types existed! The greenery here reminds me a bit more of home and beside the weeping willows, the ponds are lined with Cannas and Bougainvillea!
I should probably start exercising at the park in the mornings when the air quality is best. That’ll be the goal for next week. Tomorrow we visit the Panda Research Center so if I take any decent photos, they’ll be up in next week’s post.