sipping green tea and eating spicy peanuts. Oh yes, Saturday afternoon was a “China afternoon.” Actually, it was a China long weekend.
A childhood friend from Connecticut who has temporarily (we hope permanently) moved to Hong Kong, Jackie, had a great four day visit with us here in Chengdu over our mid-autumn holiday. We visited pandas and tea houses. Caught an opera and consumed hot pot. We were also joined by two camp friends of Phil’s, Tyson and Snoop, mid-way through the break, and with their arrival we were magically transformed into “people who know a lot about Chengdu.”
We’re starting to get a good tourist circuit down. So if you plan on coming to visit expect a typical Sichuan meal at “yum yum’s” to start followed by a drink at our favorite expat haunt the Shamrock. The next morning you will find yourself in a wet market, a touristy architecture street, a temple or two and a scenic Chinese neighborhood. The evening you’ll grease up your digestive tract at hot pot and enjoy an evening variety show of Sichuan folk art. Finally on the itinerary are half day trips to the pandas, Leshan and Emei shan depending if you have the time.
Our house guests were very, very appreciative of not having to do an ounce of planning for their time in Chengdu. Phil and I are starting to quickly, quickly realize that we need a little variety in the places we take people or they are going to get very, very boring. We like guests though, so come visit!
One thing this break that was new to me was learning how to play Mah Jong with our all-knowing Chinese friends Ivy and Isabelle. They took me and Jackie to the bamboo park, ordered green tea and proceeded to throw us into the tile game with just enough knowledge to keep our heads above water.
I’m not going to get into how you can play mah jong, but if you’re interested read here (and for a longer, more academic history read here). Chengdu rules are a bit different than anything I could find online. It was explained to me that the Chinese call Chengdu style Mah Jong the “bloody battle” as they continue playing after one person wins.
As kids, Jackie and I used to play Mah Jong with our mothers, American or Jewish style Mah Jong, a game that involved jokers, winds, dragons and absolutely no betting. Learning how to play Mah Jong in China was one of her requests for her visit, having only played a little bit of Mah Jong in Hong Kong I was looking forward to see how different the game was here in Chengdu. It’s different, very different. I did win though. More than once. 🙂
Despite struggling with the quick Chinese language, fast flying tiles, Chinese characters for numbers and nosey grandmas and ear cleaners honing in to give us tips over our shoulders, we enjoyed our afternoon thoroughly. Now that house guests have returned to their homes, our apartment has been cleaned, lesson plans have been created, lunches have been packed and next week we face another four working days…till our next holiday.