Yesterday we were without power in our apartment again (why on Saturdays…why!?!?!). But at least this time we had a little notice and we planned to be out of the house all day.
We started our day at a great little Swedish coffee cottage on the Eastern side of town called Kaffe Stugan where we indulged in smoked salmon, hand dripped coffee and a quiet, friendly place to grab brunch. If you live in Chengdu and have not yet had a meal or coffee here, go!
After unwinding in the Swedish ambiance we head out with our friend Walter to the Song Xian Qiao antique market. A first time pilgrimage for me, the market houses over 20,000 square meters of curios, antiques (authentic and not) and local art. The market is a bit shabby and rough around the edges but if you dig deep enough you never know what you’re going to find.
We rooted around the upstairs of the market (which we were told where the good stuff would be) and found tons of calligraphy and Chinese watercolor landscapes. We mused over how we should probably own more Chinese art, how much collections of old American money were going for and how much of a pain it would move giant antiques and art from place to place.
And then the buying began. Like any flea market (and apparently this is among the top ten in China) one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and down by the river, treasure we found. We found a strip of the market outside with books, photos and other print artifacts from the 70s and 80s. Phil and Walter felt they hit the jackpot and proceeded to hold court with the shop keepers who praised their Chinese skills and licked their chops at the prospects of selling foreigners their wares.
We picked up some old cultural revolution song books (and got a nearby grandma to sing us a song), found some old photos of Chengdu, and actually had some nice conversations with surrounding Chengdu-ren about what Chengdu was like back in the day. Oh, and we took a trip to the ATM too.
It was a great Chengdu Saturday, so we figured we’d keep the momentum going. Mahjong lessons in the bamboo park anyone? After teaching three expatriate men how to play the local tile game and getting advice from half the people in the park I felt we were about as China-ed as we could get.