Thursday, January 12, 2012

Xi'an to Chengdu – 31 December 2011

Although Xi'an is not a city to linger in or stroll around at this time of the year, we had a little time before our flight to Chengdu so had a “guided tour” of the city walls. The guide's input was buying the tickets and giving us a very brief overview before letting us wander along the wall. The wall is actually magnificent, and the best example of a complete city wall left in China,

Despite this, the dreary day and surrounding smoggy city reduced the impact of the wall. But fortunately this was enlivened by the colourful preparations of the lantern festival that follows Chinese New Year and the workers were busily constructing magnificent models of all manner of things from people, dragons, scenery to “Disney” castles ready for the big day.

From there we went to the local history museum where we were inducted into the art of Chinese calligraphy and were shown local folk art.

The flight to Chengdu was courtesy of Lucky Air, who were true to their name and delivered us safely in Chengdu, which was only marginally less smoggy the Xi'an and a little warmer.

Our 5-star hotel was well out of the main centre of town and while quite nicely decorated had a few odd foibles. It was New Year's Eve and this was the first VJV trip we''ve been on at New Year, where nothing had been laid on by way of entertainment for the evening. We were taken to dinner which had a fairly Tibetan influence and some rather odd dishes.

The group decided we would have to make our own entertainment back at the hotel. We discovered that there was only one “bar”, the hotel lobby, and then discovered that they only had one wine, a Great Wall white. It was quite revolting with a vaguely turpentine smell and fishy undertones. The glasses were quickly emptied back into the bottle.

Two of us set of to see what was available in the local area and came back with a couple of reds. One was sampled by a couple of people and declared disgusting so the other, a Great Wall cabernet savuigon was finally declared “survivable”.

By 11;30 we decided to retire and one couple was left finishing their drinks when the waitress came and asked them to leave as she wanted to go home! So much for a wild New Year's Eve in Chengdu!

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