After the irritation of schedule ass-hattery had subsided, I sat watching the new scenery drifting by. Chengdu looked absolutely nothing like Beijing. The traffic was unbelievable, with cars, scooters trucks, buses and miscellaneous other contraptions weaving in and around one another, a devilish ballet of sorts. Everywhere that I looked, there was construction. Entire sections along the roadway had been ripped out and lay as hug ditches, presumably for the expansion of roads. China is growing at a rate where it is almost unable to keep up with its own transportation needs. The roads are simply unable to handle the needs of shipment and travel.
I had cursed loudly and quite directly in the face of a teacher when I was informed that we would be headed to yet another hotel. I’m normally much more reserved, and almost immediately regretted the outburst, but was beyond irritation at this point. I came to China to experience China, and as of yet had been left feeling as though all we had seen were done up tourist sites and five star hotels. It was China, but I wanted the low down, the real nitty-gritty. That is until I saw the hotel.
Chengdu’s Century City looks like a monolithic space station out of Stargate or some other sci-fi classic. It was, without a doubt, the largest hotel, and until we had made our way inside, I thought it to be one of the ugliest. Once we entered the building, this opinion changed almost immediately. The lobby was a small world of its own, glowing mysteriously with Christmas lights and a strange spider web-like metal work hanging from the ceiling. As we exited the elevators and made our way to the rooms, I also noted that the hallway lights came on automatically as we passed through each section, rising and dimming with your passage. My roommate for the Sichuan section of the trip never showed up at the airport, which meant that I had a room all to myself. It also meant, however, that I was destined to be the only guy in a group of 8 girls. Not the worst thing that could happen, but after a while I just wanted to talk about beer and things that go boom.
After we had settled in, a bunch of us headed back down and into the hotel complex to look for some food and drink. There was a small shop, the equivalent of an American convenient store, located less than 2 minutes from the hotel. I bought a cup of extremely spicy instant noodles, along with a large bottle of beer, totaling about 1.50 American. A girl that was with me bought a box of Chinese Oreos called ‘okies’, which were without a doubt the most disgusting things I ate on the trip. They may have surpassed the duck webbing. Snacks and drinks in hand, we made our way back to the hotel and rode the elevator to the very top, arriving at the ‘Sky Bar’, to relax and watch people sing karaoke. I had a good time chatting with the bartenders, who were quick to ask what so many Americans were doing in the one hotel. This conversation in itself could be a post, so I’ll save the details, but it was the beginning of any number of troubles that I would have with the regional dialect, Sichuan-hua. Tired, I headed back to my room and devoured the noodle bowl that I had purchased. About two hours later, I woke up thinking I was suffering from appendicitis. Spicy.