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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Travelling with allergies part 5: Panda-monium in Chengdu

"Hello there!

After an uncomfortable night on the 15 hour train from Xi'an to Chengdu we were relieved to have arrived at our new hostel which would be home until the 14th November when we fly to Bangkok.

Chengdu is located in the Sichuan province of China and is known throughout China for its hot chilli dishes something which I was really looking forward to trying. After our arrival we visited the near by restaurant and browsed their menu which had both Chinese and English writing. I selected a pork, pepper and chilli dish with a bowl of rice which was incredible. After lots of noodles in Beijing and Xi'an enjoying a dish with rice and chilli's had to be one of the dining highlights of my trip so far. I was able to use my allergy cards before ordering and the lady took the cards to the kitchen and returned with big smiles and confirmed it was suitable...happy days!

The next day we enjoyed a lie in and planned to rest and casually explore Chengdu which we did after hanging up a load of washing to dry! We found a local supermarket where I purchased a large bag of Quaker porridge oats which I would have each morning for breakfast with a piece of fruit. The porridge was cheap and would last me for about two weeks which also being easy to make as there is always free boiling water available. I also spent a few minutes browsing other products in the shop struggling to find anything with English ingredients. I found some chocolate crackers which had a wonky Chinese ingredients label stuck on the packet which was covering the English ingredients and I was unable to remove it. I did however come across some biscuits which had dried grape pieces and for 28p for a packet I would hardly go wrong. We both purchased some crisps before heading back to our hostel after browsing the local stalls and dodging the traffic.

Our third day in Chengdu was one I had been looking forward to even before leaving the UK, because it's home to the national panda breeding centre in Chengdu, which is one of the most important panda research and breading sanctuaries in the world. We arrived at the park early as the pandas are most active in the morning while eating their breakfast of bamboo before sleeping for the rest of the day. We headed to the first enclosure which was surprisingly natural looking with very little concrete or man made objects. Sure enough three giant pandas were enjoying there breakfast posing perfectly for pictures. Thanks pandas!

One of the highlights at the park was the breeding centre where there were baby pandas just outside still learning to walk. They were very entertaining to watch tumble around and playing while attempting to run which usually resulted in more rolling around!

That evening I selected one of the famous Sichuan dishes, one of the hottest they make. This was a chicken dish with peppers, green and red chilli's, chilli oil, ginger, pepper and other spices with a bowl of rice for good measure. This was quite a step up from last nights dinner but I really enjoyed it. After a few glasses of water and a mouth on fire I had defeated the local dish, which although outrageously hot was highly enjoyable.

Our forth day in Chengdu began early again, this day we were visiting the giant Leshan Buddha which was a 2hr drive from Chengdu. On arrival we entered the park before following the trail to the Buddha, which was the parks main attraction. It was immediately clear that this was no ordinary Buddha, as after a decent to the base we looked back up at this gigantic Buddha who made me feel very small. We also visited the monastery within the park and its caves before returning for dinner.

Our final full day we took slowly, taking time to pack our bags and souvenirs securely before heading to the supermarket for crisps and biscuits. For dinner that evening I enjoyed a fried beef and chilli dish served with rice and a local beer before setting an alarm for 8 am - positively a lie in in the grand scheme of the trip so far!

We left Chengdu on the 14th November, catching a flight to Bangkok. After my last meal I put away my Chinese allergy translation cards in exchange for my Thai cards which I will be requiring for the next month while in Thailand. I've been surprised by how simple its been eating in China. After three weeks there, I began to relax a little and understand what kind of dishes and noodles were suitable. I am however aware of Thai cooking involving lots of shellfish, nuts and oils so I will have to be extra careful...

Check back soon!

Stephen :)"

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1 comment:

  1. Good Luck with the eating in Thailand Stephen