Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chengdu at a glance

Yesterday I just got back from Chengdu, China, for a show with the Singapore Tourism Board. The event was for a Life Insurance Congress and there were thousands of people attending it. The show was a success and all went well despite 4 hours of sleep the night before. We had a 7am call for stage rehearsal and another one at noon before the show at 3.30pm. That's how it was for most shows and it was great fun.

When in China one should speak a little Mandarin
For the people hardly spoke anything else
Some were helpful some ignored us with a grin
When we tried to communicate and asked for directions
Even the most prolific one of us was wonderin'
How on earth can we understand the different intonations
In such a widely used language..

We stayed at the Century City Holiday Inn
Located next to our performance venue, wow, best
The hotel opened its doors just a week before we flew in
Just so thousands attending the congress can rest

I think the hotel wasn't ready to operate
Although the staff tried to cope and were friendly
The service was slow and deliberate
Not quite up to standard for this four star hotel, surely

The rooms were furnished quite nicely
The problem started when we took a shower
The water seeped out onto the floor surreptitiously
Wetting the carpet near the entrance and into the corridor

We went shopping after work
Taxi fare was cheap but communication was weak
But there we were, twenty minutes later
At the best area where they sell everything we seek

The food didn't taste so good on the palate
Found ourselves eating fast food most of the time
But we bought el cheapo clothes, shoes and one pomegranate :)
And the world famous peaches, the best kind

That night we went to the Babi Club though not my cup of tea
It was a disco so crowded with the locals, it wasn't funny
I decided to head back to the hotel without a glee
To brave the flooded toilet and get some sleep, maybe...

But to hear the DJs speak Mandarin was a strange feeling
To a sea of Asian faces, to western music they were bopping...

The next day with six hours before we headed for home
Upon my recommendation, we went to see the giant pandas
Situated in the world's only research base where they freely roam
Since it was hot, they remained in their air conditioned haciendas

Then we rushed to Wenshu temple
To get a glimpse of the famous teahouses contained
In a four thousand year history said the people
A tradition they are proud to retain.

The sky above Chengdu was hazy with pollution and dust from the ever present construction everywhere. Some of my friends had rashes after several hours in town. Hailing a taxi was one culturally shocking experience. The people in China do not queue. When a taxi stopped everyone rushed towards it and whoever had their hands on the door got in before the previous passenger had a chance to pay. So we did what the locals do, reluctantly. With shopping bags in both hands, one of us rushed to a taxi and stood with the body flushed to the back door. While other people piled up behind him someone opened the front door and stepped in!! Hahahahahaahha we couldn't stop laughing . It was hilarious to the max while we watched our hard won taxi leaving with another passenger.

In Singapore this would be unacceptable. No wonder the Chinese tourists here behave so rudely-talking at the top of their voices and not queueing. They are just being themselves... hahahahaha.

I found myself in possession of a fake 50 yuan note - about SGD$10. I had no idea when that happened. Must have been the change I got while shopping. It looked exactly like the real thing. At the airport on the way home I decided to use up all the yuan I had on me which was that 50 yuan and that was then they said it was a fake. Holy caramba...

I am certain that China has many more beautiful places to explore and I look forward to my next trip for more culturally shocking experiences.. :)