my supposed special chengdu tour guide never did get in touch with me, so it was business as usual, going about exploring the city by myself (i should've figured she was a no-show when she never called yesterday; having your mother's friend set you up with some stranger without asking you first is probably not a good thing). i figured if i can do 2 things per day, i'll have seen all the major chengdu sites in just 3 days. what i wasn't expecting was to visit 3 places in a single day. at this rate, i'll have seen most of the things i wanted to see by tomorrow.
i left the hotel around 10:00, waking up around 8:30. a part of me could've slept more (the part that went to bed last night at 2:00), but my body is trained so that the moment i wake up, i urgently needs to go the bathroom (no.2). i opened the blinds to see a rather grey but bright day outside. the people on the street walking down below seemed to be bundled up so i imagined it to be cold. i told the girl at the front desk i wanted to stay another day and put down an RMB$100 deposit on top of whatever i deposited yesterday. behind me waiting to checkout were two tibetan girls. i'm probably being silly, but it still makes me do a double take whenever i see tibetans, since i always associate them with their own homeland.
i decided to visit wenshu temple, a fairly discreet temple of a manageable size that was close by. i picked that in the off chance my tour guide should call me, i could leave at a moment's notice. instead of taking the subway (which involves walking 15-20 minutes down to chunxi road), i discovered the 7 bus could take me to wenshu temple in just 2 stops. so i walked a few minutes to the bus stop. i got some buns for breakfast, the owner was all excited because she thought i was a reporter of some sort with my camera, and brought out her buns to show me and told me to give her a good recommendation. at the bus stop directory board i didn't see 7 anywhere. however, the 5 goes the same way, so i took that instead. a bus ride - using the chengdu metro card - is just RMB$1.8.
this morning i went to go visit wenshu temple (got lost in the fake touristy old town surrounding the temple). i had some buckwheat noodles for lunch then decided on the spur of the moment to visit the sichuan museum, near the chengdu chinese medicine university.
the museum is free (which i didn't realize), but they still make you get a "ticket" (just a little piece of advertisement for the museum) by showing some kind of photo id. having seen the chongqing sanxia museum, the sichuan museum pales in comparison. there's an extensive collection of chinese bronze age weapons (they seem to be in good condition, probably never used in battle) and the miao silverware display in the ethnic minority wing was impressive. the museum was also near the green ram temple, but i decided to skip it.
from there i walked to kuanzhai alleyway, passing through qintai road, another gentrified old street now turned into a high end tourist spot. kuanzhai alleyway was where the lady on the train told me i had to visit and was one of two places i was supposed to go with my tour guide. supposedly it's a street lined with chengdu specialty foods and bars. it's a nice place, but too high end for me, sort of reminds me of quincy market back home in boston.
i took the subway from tonghuimen and returned to chunxi road, where i had burger king for dinner and did some shopping (looking for something warm to wear!), buying a fancy gym shirt from H&M for RMB$30 (US$5). i tried taking a bus back to the hotel instead of walking (my poor feet!), but the bus i got on ended up stopping before even reaching the midway point, so i still had to walk, navigating in the dark by feel.
i forgot to do it last night, but tonight i went back online to ctrip to look for a cheaper more convenient hotel. i ended up picking the same place i picked before, close by here, that didn't have any rooms for me the last time, but saw rooms were available again. i decided to give them another try, figured the worst that could happen is they reject me a second time. but surprisingly, the reservation went through, something i don't remember happening the last time (so that's why an agent called me the next morning).