Hello everyone! Sorry for the long gap between posts… I’m finally settling into my internship and beginning to really dig into a couple of projects (more on that soon!) For now, I will try to catch up on writing about some of the fascinating places I’ve been and things I’ve seen in and around Chengdu.
One of the first tourist attractions Maddy, Morgan, and I went to was Dufu’s Cottage in the northern section of the city. He was a poet during the Tang Dynasty, and lived in Chengdu for about five years before moving into what is now modern day Chongqing. Many of his works were oblique social critiques and histories, and stylistically very simple, omitting many of the details he assumes the reader will fill in.
I know well that my thatched hut is very low and small,
Because of that, the swallows on the river often come.
The bits of mud they bring in their mouths get into my zither and books,
And trying to catch the flying insects, they drive them into me.
The river’s blue, the bird a perfect white,
The mountain green with flowers about to blaze.
I’ve watched the spring pass away again,
When will I be able to return?
I remember the temple, this route I’ve travelled before,
I recall the bridge as I cross it again.
It seems the hills and rivers have been waiting,
The flowers and willows all are selfless now.
The field is sleek and vivid, thin mist shines,
On soft sand, the sunlight’s color shows it’s late.
All the traveller’s sorrow fades away,
What better place to rest than this?
What you may notice is the lake of a cottage in any of these photos… we were actually so impressed with the large (free) park surrounding the cottage that we didn’t even go into the (60 RMB) cottage. Maybe a week or two later, we went back again, fully intending to see his cottage.
The good rain knows its season,
When spring arrives, it brings life.
It follows the wind secretly into the night,
And moistens all things softly, without sound.
On the country road, the clouds are all black,
On a riverboat, a single fire bright.
At dawn one sees this place now red and wet,
The flowers are heavy in the brocade city.
At Huang Si’s house, flowers fill the path,
Myriad blossoms press the branches low.
Constantly dancing butterflies stay to play,
Unrestrained, the lovely orioles cry.
The moon’s reflected on the river a few feet away,
A lantern shines in the night near the third watch.
On the sand, egrets sleep, peacefully curled together,
Behind the boat I hear the splash of jumping fish.
Obviously, we were again distracted by the beautiful park surrounding the cottage. If we ever actually managed to get inside, I will post pictures.
Other than that, I’ve toured a fantastic little Chinese/Tibetan Buddhist temple (no pictures allowed), a slew of museums that deserve their own post, and some other wonderful parks.
Sichuan University is the top school in western China, and it is across the street from my apartment! Also, UW Madison should seriously consider investing in a pagoda.
In addition to the zillions of little parks scattered throughout the city, there are lots of little green ways (绿道）which are pedestrian only walkways that cut through the city and a frequented by the elderly. This particular green way is in the Yulin (玉林）neighborhood just a few blocks away from the consulate.
Also, once you get to the far south of the city (世纪城）the city becomes a strange mash-up of expensive high rises and older communities. These guys were fishing along the dammed river that flowed alongside a vegetable garden that covered the plot of land next to an expensive gated community. It’s a bit surreal seeing western sedans fly past these old fishermen.
People’s Park (人民公园）is just a few blocks from the heart of the city, and is a bit of an urban oasis. In addition to having fantastic public spaces for karaoke and dancing ladies, there is a thriving Tai Ji practice, lots of gambling, lots of little kids running around. My favorite part, however, was the bonsai exhibit. There were dozens of little trees, each clinging precariously to some rock, looking like a microcosm of the ancient Chinese mountainsides.
I’ve heard them say that Chang’an seems like in a game of chess,
A hundred years of world events have caused unbearable pain.
The palaces of the noblemen all have their new masters,
Civil and military dress and caps are not like those before.
Straight north over mountain passes, gongs and drums ring out,
Conquering the west, carts and horses, feather-hurried dispatches.
The fish and dragons are still and silent, the autumn river cold,
A peaceful life in my homeland always in my thoughts.
All poems were taken from the Du Fu Index