Ray Rogers Handcrafted Knives
My Trip To ChengDu, China
I returned from ChengDu, China yesterday (Nov 2, 2006) after spending 5 days with my girlfriend, Amy. The attractive one in the picture below is Amy, the other one with the 'deer in the headlights' stare is me.
China is a very interesting place and I want to share a few pictures with you and maybe a few stories about the things I saw and did. Before I do, I would like to offer this disclaimer: I had a great time in ChengDu, ate some great food, and met some wonderful people. The staff at the YinHe Dynasty hotel was fabulous and I am very pleased with my stay there and would recommend that hotel to anyone traveling to ChengDu. I am telling you all this so that, if anyone in China ever reads this, you will know that the rest of what I have to say is intended to be humorous and not intended to be offensive to anyone.
Here's something I thought was interesting looking. This is a road sign hanging over a major road. Nothing funny about it, but I figured you probably don't get to see many signs like this. The Chinese concept of traffic control is incredibly different from ours but it appears to work very well. In a city of 10 million people traffic moved smoothly and it was very easy and affordable to go anywhere you wanted to go very quickly.
These peddle taxis are a very efficient way to get around on the busy city streets. Every one of these guys I saw was skinny, smoking, and wearing a suit jacket but their legs must have been like iron. These cabs appear to be very old just like most of the bicycles I saw but they all do their job just fine. It is far safer to take one of these taxis if your path requires you to cross an intersection rather than trying to cross on foot. Chinese traffic - bicycles, cars, scooters, and buses - does not stop for pedestrians even when the cross walk light say you can walk. The light says you can walk but there are no lights to stop the traffic. Sometimes there is a traffic control person (like a traffic cop) but that seemed to be just during rush hour in the larger intersections. The taxi will take your bloated butt anywhere in a several block radius for about 70 cents, well worth the money.
This is the view from inside the taxi. I had to open my eyes to take this picture but it is smarter to keep your eyes closed until you reach your destination. You don't want to see what's going on around you, you really don't!
This view of a major intersection is from my 11th floor hotel room. The intersection is 6 lanes wide in one direction and 4 lanes the other way, not counting the bicycle/scooter lanes and the pedestrian cross walks. There is a traffic control guy in the center of the intersection who appears as a tiny orange dot. This reminds me of a Chinese Chess board the way all the various pieces are moving around down there. Despite being about the size of New York City, the traffic moves much better, no one honks their horns much, and angry voices are rare. That big building directly across the intersection is The People's Store. It is a modern shopping mall in one huge box of a building.
There are a lot of these big double decker buses around too and they always seem to be packed full...
This seems to be a mid-scale shopping area, somewhere between the high priced elegance of the People's Store and the bargain basement street market just around the corner. Notice the bicycle rack in front of the stores, packed solid as usual.
Same area but here we're looking down an alley that runs all the way through to the next city street. The only thing remarkable about that is the mannequins that line the alley way. Men's clothes on one side, women's on the other. No space is wasted in ChengDu!
This is a scooter parking area on the sidewalk of a major street. These places always seemed to be packed tight, these scooters were everywhere! There is no extra space between them either, not an inch. I wonder where they buy gasoline, I never saw a gas station anywhere...
Now, this is advertising at it's finest! Whoever wrote that sign has no problem with self esteem!
This fellow was sharpening a very large Chinese cleaver on an even larger whet stone on the sidewalk of a busy street. I wonder what would happen if he tried that in Seattle?
ChengDu is the home of the Panda. This big Panda waterfall is at the YinHe hotel. These people were apparently part of some tour group who were having a professional picture taken while their police escort held back the crowd. However, I was taller than 'the crowd' ...
This is Amy sitting at the table in our private dining room in one of the hotel's restaurants (brag, brag). Remember that this is a SiChuan restaurant actually located in SiChuan Province - the home of hot, spicy Chinese food. She asked them to tone it down a little for the puny American.
By the way, using those chopsticks is no real trick. I found that if you simply sharpen the tips like a pencil they spear things very well.
Anyway, I can't remember (or pronounce) the names of those dishes she's fooling with but I can explain the essence of each. The red one on the right is known to me as Fire Ants in Battery Acid. I kid you not, two bites of that and I could no longer feel my face nor speak a coherent word. There were pork ribs under all that red pepper and I can only imagine that they came from one seriously mean razorback!
The dish on the left is Beef Noodles in Napalm. WARNING: this stuff will liquify your teeth and it goes through you like the Alien's molecular acid!
Amy is a native of SiChuan Province, born and raised on this stuff and even SHE thought it was hot!
Don't worry about me though, I survived the meal just fine. Fortunately, I had a bag of Yak Meat Jerky. Local folk medicine says this jerky, which tastes like licorice, has the ability to relieve heart burn and, when chewed to a pulpy consistency, can be used to patch the holes in your intestines.
Since airport security wouldn't let me bring my Rayzor I bought this little knife at the street market for about $1. It is a slip joint and has a zero ground main bevel. The action really walked and talked and it was very sharp. Just the thing for opening a package of Yak Jerky when you need it in a hurry...
One Year Later, Our Wedding
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