Upon our arrival in Chengdu on December 26, 2011 we failed to immediately locate our travel guide as no signs welcoming our arrival could be seen on the exit near the carousel where we took out our bags.
We tried to communicate via cell phone of the supposed guide on the number (tel no. 138880916161) provided in the letter issued by the Beijing Overall Travel Organizer Will Ren but the one responding at the end of the line did not know how to speak English and therefore means that he was not the guide.
We tried looking at the other exits but all of them did not have welcoming signs for us. We desperately attempted to communicate with Mr. Ren but to no avail. We continuously tried communicating with the cell phone number of the guide and Mr. Ren but to no avail.
With the welcoming people already thinning out without any visible sign from our guide aggravated by the fact that all the persons we approached could not speak even an iota of English, travel instinct led me to the only available money changer at the far corner of the airport who fortunately understands and speaks English.
After explaining our predicament, she tried communicating with the number provided in the letter but again the response would emanate once more from the wrong person. After giving a closer look at the number she realized that the number is abnormal under Chengdu setting.
By extrapolation she dropped off a number and finally the guide in the person of Jiang or Jason ( his English name) responded. Jason explained that he did not raise any welcoming sign because of the big crowd and that he decided to stay at the middle of the two exits where we would ultimately be able to look for him if we step out.
On December 27, 2011 we proceeded to Leshan to see the world’s biggest image of Buddha ( the first declared World Heritage Site to be visited). We together with at least ten (10) more Chinese tourists rode the ferry boat. We were told by Jason that it would take only about five (5) minutes to arrive at the site and the time frame within which to take photo would depend on the discretion of the captain of the ship.
Jason told us also not to avail of photo shots being offered at the ferryboat considering that we have our own cameras and that it would take time to develop. When we were already at the site there was commotion on who would be given priority on the limited strategic area where photo shots would be taken with the apprehension that at any time the captain could say that the time for photo taking was already finished.
Business instinct prompted me to go against the advice of Jason as we requested the wife’s captain (who was granted apparently the concession to attend to the photo services of the ferry boat ) to take our photo after agreeing to the price set. With such an arrangement, we were allowed entry at the captain’s area to take the best shots without any competitor.
The crowd sensing the distinct advantage we were enjoying followed suit to the business satisfaction of the captain’s wife and happiness of the captain. Jason felt that we were disobedient thus when my companion requested for more shots to be taken by him he did not respond.
I explained to Jason that it was a judgement call considering the money, time spent and effort exerted in traveling all the way from Manila to reach the place only to be denied with a presentable photo shot because of not yielding to the business proposal of the wife’s captain.
Jason could have understood the rationalization as he instantly took the initiative of taking our shots after shooing away the other tourists from the strategic photo area.
At Mt.Emie ( the second declared World Heritage Site to be visited) we checked in at another five-star hotel in the forest. I decided to avail of their luxurious wet bath comprising of Olympic swimming pool, Jacuzzi at varying water temperature ranging from 28, 40 and 50 degrees Centigrade within the forest grounds or inside the spa building.
One of the notices provided thereto is that anyone at the age of sixty five (65) and beyond who would be availing of the sauna and steam baths would be entering the same at their own risk and that the owner of the establishment would be free from any legal accountability.
It sent jitters upon me considering that I am already sixty six (66) going to sixty seven (67) and here comes this pronouncement that there would be no accountability on their part for aging persons like me who decided to become adventurous and would suffer from adverse development.
It is tantamount to saying that it would be better for those with that age and beyond to just stay at home and it is risky on the part of investor to be accommodating them. It sounds unfair as generally people during their earlier years would work hard hopefully to enjoy life like traveling, etc.
On December 28, 2011 it took us one (1) hour to reach the bus station which would bring us to the tip of Mt. Emie after two (2) hours of bus ride. Upon reaching the area that would commence the hike leading to the tip, we were told that the walk would reach another hour.
Because of the heavy winds and strong snow fall we availed of cradles to be carried by four (4) able-bodied people to ensure that we reach the tip. It was a trying journey as the coldness was minus three degree centigrade (-3 ‘ C) and oxygen became lesser and lesser as we ascend the tip of the mountain with three thousand (3000)meter elevation above sea level.
My companion vomitted and did not pursue anymore climbing the temple situated at the highest elevation of the tip. The consolation is that my companion has already reached the tip area.
The manner of reaching the top through cradles backed up by manpower admittedly is however not worthy of public announcement as something to be bragged about. It is the course of action resorted to by aging old man or woman too weak to climb the elevation. Hardship entailed is the sacrifice the faithful would endure to give respect to the sacred mountain.
On December 29, 2011 the original itinerary had to be adjusted pursuant to my request to include visit to the Sichuan University Museum (where interesting artefacts of cultural minorities, folkloric practices and related matters are exhibited and explained) and the China Post to mail my extra clothes and reading materials in order to unload my burgeoning luggage and accommodate new purchases.
We firstly visited the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center ( the third declared World Heritage Site to be visited). I learned that pandas could only thrive in that part of Sichuan. Pandas are solitary in behaviour and have the propensity to fight one another due to territorial disputes, etc.
Notwithstanding that they would give birth to many offspring, the mother gives protection to only one offspring by physically holding the chosen one in one of her arms. The rest would be faced with the challenges of fending for their own survival.
According to Jason, China holds custody of at least eighty percent (80%) of the total Panda population in the world. China has the intention of keeping the animal only to herself by trying to get them all back to China. Birth of the panda could be initiated by artificial insemination thus the threat of becoming extinct is somehow neutralized.
We proceeded thereafter to the Sichuan University Museum. Jason came to know of the Museum only this time as per my suggestion to visit the same. The display is strong as the items are well selected and placed in three (3) floors.
We next visited the Dufu Cottage. Dufu is a renowned poet who had written at least two hundred (200) poems during the Tang Dynasty from 618 to 907.
We visited next the Wuhoe Temple which was built in the sixth (6th) century to commemorate Zhue Liang (Konming). He was a famous military strategist of the Three Kingdoms from AD 220 -280.
We visited the old Jinli Street which was built during the Shu Kingdom AD 221 – 263 . It was rebuilt in the tradition of the Quing Dynastry (1644 -1911) on 2004. It is three hundred fifty (350) meters long. Its character mirrored Chengdu’s way of life in the past
Thereafter we visited the Opera House. We were amazed by the changing of the masks show which I learned exists only in Chengdu .
I learned that the Sichuan effectively has only sixty (60) days of sunshine out of the three hundred sixty plus (360+) days in a year.
I am thankful I have somehow caused the documentation of this trip which I failed to do so in other trips.