10 November 2017

Sichuan Street Food Pilgrimage - Chengdu Part 2, Departure

A couple of days in Chengdu before heading home...

See the big shiny scaly looking building in the background - from a different angle it looks kinda like a blokes wedding tackle, balls'n'all. That's our digs, the HDCL Serviced Residences. We're staying halfway up the shaft, just above the scrotum.

It's a giant penis with a washing machine. The best kind. Nothing makes a traveller happier than an in-room laundry, especially with a view. Shawn claims fear of heights in order to get out of laundry duty.

This is our official welcome back to Chengdu greeter. Had he expected the B-Kyu paparrazi he would have thrown on something more stylish, though we like the understated razzmatazz of a hot pink jumpsuit.

We are in a flash part of town where just about everything has been pulled down and put up again. But opposite our hotel is a beautifully wonderfully crumbly old arcade...

It comes complete with dim mood lighting and some super tops restos. We give the pretty blue one a go.

It's a point'n'pick kind of place.

Bad light but great food. A bowl of rice topped with slices of pork and baked with a deep soy flavouring, braised greens with chilli, pickled and chopped long beans and fresh, oh so fresh tofu. Side dishes of more roasted chilli, as essential to the meal as salt and pepper.

See, it is a bit snazzy around here.

Chengdu is great walking city, as is pretty much every city we've been to in China (except maybe Chongqing and it's mother trucking hills). Chengdu is flat with varying neighbourhoods, loads of parks and rivers to break up the urban jungle, loads of teahouses to stop and chill for a bit. And folks seem pretty laidback and friendly in Chengdu. Until they get behind the wheel of car and become complete a-holes, serious Jekyll and Hyde stuff.

Crossing the road in Chengdu is a game of life and death, even on a pedestrian crossing with a green walk signal - with a traffic cop. Drivers are unwilling to slow down or move and inch out of their way for pedestrians, for they are Kings and Queens in their Audis, and we are just peasants in our Nikes, not worthy of licking their tyres.

It became a game of standing up to these Audiholes, forcing them to give way on a walk signal. The trick was to avoid eye contact with drivers while keeping the car in your peripheral vision, forcing them to hit the brakes. Or was it the other way around? We had fantasies of a pedestrian uprising - all us walkers blockading the streets until drivers yield to our demands - respect the green walk signal. And lay off the frickin horn, man. Jeez.

Our heroes of the trip were a dynamic duo - a tops old auntie and her chihuahua who just walked out into any busy intersection and made all the cars, trucks and bikes stop by the sheer power of tops auntiness.

In one huge megabarn of a Carrefour supermarket we found a couple of pussycats living beneath the shelves in the chocolate section. Rent must have been too high in the cat food section.

Somebody had to break it to this dog that the motorbike had stopped and the ride was over. That somebody was Alison.

We ask the dog if he knew a good restaurant, just so happens there was one right across the road.

The dog on the motorbike turns out to be our waiter, Mr Nongfu.

There's dishes ready-to-go and cooked-to-order - we'll take both.

Beans and pomme noisettes! They're nicer than chips. Mum never served hers coated in chilli though.

We were hoping to score one last rabbit dish but alas they had finished on the hoppities for the night. We make do with bony bits of chopped chicken mixed with potato and green beans, a seemingly endless bowl of food.

We took a punt on this joint for breakfast, it's a winner.

Fresh, thick noodles, almost pappardelle pasta like, served in a deeply blood red bowl of chilli soup and a serve of pork innards. Joy oh joy. We loved this place so much we broke one of our kind-of travel rules and went back again another time. It was just as good.

Great cat art in a shopping centre.

We get the train out to some huge mega shopping centre, The New Century Global Centre, which turns out to be just another huge mega shopping centre, there's a couple of seriously upmarket ones in the city centre too, man there's some money around here. Just how many Burberry stores does one town need?

We walk back home from the shopping centre for kicks, through the flash new IT/Business area.

There's shiny business buildings everywhere - big wide tree lined streets - and more shopping centres.

We get a come hither look from this vendo lady so we get some duck to go...

Roast duck in a cup - cup-a-duck - just dang good roast duck. Sauce at bottom with garlic, vinegar and chilli.

We give our duck bones to the street cleaner.

After a few more kilometres of walking we're up for more snackage. The shops look just like the new style of high street Chinese joints opening in Sydney.

To one side, a big pot of batter. Two small cooker/hot plates. A large range of fillings to choose from, both sweet and savoury and able to be combined together as you wish.

Crispy pancake with a savoury filling of shredded veg and seaweed is the result. Yeah baby.

For secondary snackages we get one of these Sichuan pepper filled flaky pastry/pie thingies, a great beer liner.

Our secondary primary objective in walking back from the mall on the outskirts of town was The Beer Nest - a brewery bar down the road from the American Embassy.

Real beer - recommended - cheers!

It's amazing what a difference the location of your hotel makes to your stay. Our first run through Chengdu we were a little outside the action, but this area is always lively, and is extra lively at lunchtime when hoards of office workers emerge from their cubicles to feast. We pick this joint for brunch.

As we enter we have our pick of tables, a few minutes later it's packed.

A steaming red bowl of chilli, pork blood cubes and slices of potato. Chilli morning feast.

A regular old xian mian, can't get enough of these.

The waitress mimes mixing the noodles. You gotta stir the mince in with the noodles when advised, otherwise it messes with peoples minds.

Just up the road from our hotel the sidewalk becomes a lunchtime fiesta - if only we'd known earlier!

This strip is full of bright young things, they seem to have come out of an office, call centre maybe.

We find a great market just around the corner from Tianfu square, it's Muslim and surrounds a busy mosque, Uyghur wethinks.

It's a meatfest.

It's the foodnerd travellers nightmare - amazing looking food and no stomach room, especially for something so heavy. We soooo wish we found some room for these small pizza like breads topped with lamb, onions and tomato, ready to be thrown into the wood fired oven on call.

We found a slither of stomach space for the flatbread, this stuff is amazing. So beautifully decorated with whirls of pin prick patterns.

We go random walking again and stumble upon this ye olde world park, Jin Li Ancient Street.

We take tea and watch the world go by. The Chinese have a special knack of making old world seem slightly clean and new again, mostly by pulling down all the original old buildings and rebuilding them to look old again.

While we sipped our tea they played Victoria Secret videos, ie soft porn, on the big screen.

Tourist shops are getting slicker...

Farewell ye olde world!

Groovy boat shaped building in town.

An uncle doing water calligraphy in the park. Sure is purdy.

The more chip flavours we try over the world the more we reckon they all tasted like slight variations on Samboy BBQ. It's a mind trick just printing the different name of the flavour on the cover. Although the cucumber ones were less BBQ and more sour cream and chives.

The one thing Shawn brought back from China is Martinique rum - they just happened to have a few bottles left in the French run Carrefour supermarkets - we have to visit a few supermarkets to get our quota. Our favourite Carrefour supermarket has a little packing area outside which is a mini commercial district in itself - folks buy stuff in bulk and send it to Auntie Edna in the sticks.
Packing tape is such a commodity that the supermarket puts anti-theft electronic security tags on the stuff. We were proud of our Chinese style luggage ready for the trip home - complete with sticky tape carry handle.

For our final dinner of the trip we try this fancy pants looking food hall across the road from our hotel.

It is decked ye-old China style...

They even have some ye olde China style entertainment - this face mask changing artist was mind blowing - with some sleight of hand trick we couldn't make out the artist would change his mask with the casual brush of the hand - see this youtube clip for more mask changing.

A less traditional but way more scary clown.

The hall is lined with individual stalls and the range of food is mind blowing - click to enlarge for a better gawk.

Our feast gathered from a few different stalls... beans'n.bacon, pineapple rice, pumpkin, fish cooked in a paper and foil case.

And sweet tofu for dessert...

Our street waking up on a Saturday morning, our last day.

A final visit to our favourite breakfast spot...

More spicy noodles and offal bits, hunks of tomato in the stew for more depth and flavour. Wish we could stick a ton of this in our bags too.

Lovely layer of chili oil left behind...

For a final fun snack we try Ethnic Mongol Yoghurt, which tasted like regular yoghurt, it didn't taste like ethnic mongols at all. We would have taken the jar home but the plastic top was one use only, such a shame.

We bid Chairman Mao a fond farewell. We plan to do the whole trip all over again, this time without the worst flu we've ever had.

We love China.

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