Teahouse in Chengdu Roaming the city streets and riding the busses we see a lot of faces. We are constantly wondering; where people are going, what is going on in their lives, where do they work, where do they live? It is dizzying to attempt to comprehend the incalculable number of events, in a city (proper) of eight million, that brought any one individual to that exact point in space at that exact moment in time, where we also happen to be – to take note of them and that moment. Sometimes I can capture these moments with the camera.

These first two pictures are from our first visit to a real tea house! This one was a large open air type with dozens of people sitting around chatting, eating snacks, playing games, and drinking tea of course. To join in we found the tea serving area and pointed to two types of tea on the menu. The server gave us two servings of loose leaf tea, said something and pointed to the stack of cups. We picked up our cups and she said something else and pointed to the stack of saucers. We picked up our saucers and she again said something and pointed to the stack of lids. We picked up our lids and waited. She appeared content with that so we headed off to find a table. We sat our cups on their saucers and poured our tea in the cups. About two seconds later a very nice gentleman showed up with the biggest tea kettle I had ever seen and poured boiling hot water in our cups – right to the brim! We put our lids on the cups and sat back to let it steep.The faces of a teahouseWe learned that if we sat with the lid off our tea – to let it cool enough to drink, for example – the nice gentleman would be there in about two seconds to top it off with more boiling hot water – again, right to the brim. Apparently people can spend a whole afternoon or even a whole day there, just drinking tea like that. We see a lot of people playing Mah Jongg. This is not like the solitaire version we have all played leisurely on our computers. They play in groups of three or four – and they play fast! They appear to take it very seriously, sometimes with groups of people around watching the action.Women playing Mahjongg in the streets of ChengduMany of the parks we visit have pools teaming with goldfish. It is very common to see people feeding the fish – with baby bottles taped to a stick. We do not know what is in the mixture but the fish swarm very aggressively around it, making a loud popping-sucking sound as their mouths break the water attempting to get a taste.Feeding the fish A favorite past time in Chengdu Here, another observer captured a moment in time with us as a subject!The observer being observedWe have been approached multiple times, when we are out, by groups of young people on school outings or part of a day camp. They usually just want a chance to try out some of the English they have learned in school or get a picture with Amber. They are always very polite and their English is years ahead of the tiny amount of Chinese we attempt with them. Their enthusiasm for their activity combined with their amazing manners is very refreshing!Amber getting photo with high school studentsCouples are a regular part of the landscape. We have noticed that people are generally dressed nicely when out in public. Even when in jeans and a t-shirt, everything is clean and wrinkle free. We rarely see people just lounging in work out clothing and we have not seen a single person walking around in their pajamas!Couple walking in the park
Couple sitting in a park in ChengduCouple walking over a bridgeUmbrellas are a very common sight, rain or shine. Many women, and sometimes men, use them on bright days to keep the sun off. Rainy days they are a must. It is too warm to wear a rain jacket and an umbrella provides the only hope of staying both dry and relatively cool. When the rain starts they pop out like blooming flowers that bob up and down in a great stream along the sidewalks in a plethora of sizes, colors and patterns.Friends walking together under umbrellaFood is everywhere! Chengdu is famous for it. There are street vendors, restaurants and fruit and vegetable markets on every block of every street. (We are going to do a whole post just about food.) There are so many choices and variations – meat, vegetables, rice, noodles, wraps, steamed, fried, spicy, more spicy, super spicy, or mouth numbing! Fortunately for us we happened to meet a wonderful young woman when we were in Shanghai who lives here and she has guided us through a couple of ordering challenges. This picture is of Xu demonstrating how to load up hot pot. Yes that is a bowl of very spicy, very boiling broth loaded with oil built right into the middle of the table!Amber and Xu at hot potXu has been so nice to us, even introducing us to a friend of hers and answering about a hundred questions we have had about China. We cannot thank her enough. Maybe we could make her woopie pies if she comes to visit us in the U.S.!Amber and XuOne of the things this city is known for is it’s unhurried lifestyle. It is wonderful! Now, the people we observe are definitely busy. We see people riding their bike or scooter, taking the grandkids to the park, playing an instrument, working on the landscape, sweeping the sidewalk, riding the metro to the mall, getting street food, making deliveries, or manning their small kiosk. But people do not appear to be rushing or over-taxed or acting like they are running late. Woman walking bike selling flowersPeople playing music in the park Worker watering plants in the park Here is a casual shot of a non-local who appears to be going places too!Amber with large faux snails

Coming up: an everyday kind of visit to Wal-Mart!