16 April 2017

 

Grey and raining this morning. We were planning to head for a gorge walk, but in this weather it would not be any fun.

Andrew has come down with a 24-hour thing, so I am on my own for the day.

After a easy morning at the hotel, I venture out for the big Chengdu Antique Market at the edge of down town. Should not be too hard to get to as I know the bus to take and the stop is close to the hostel.

Getting on the right bus is easy enough, but after a while I am wondering if it is going the right way. I am not recognising anything, I do not have the phone with positioning info with me and my sense of direction is notoriously bad. I stay on stoically and hope for the best. Eventually, after a few more turns I see the big gates we had walked through the night before. Only a few more stops and I get off. Now relying on my city map, I head for the market. Chinese maps are not always to scale and the walk turns out to be longer than expected.

Of course the sideways are broken up again, as are parts of the road, which makes for interesting travel situations, with no room left for pedestrians. I am fed up with trying to avoid every Chinese person (they don’t seem to move an inch to avoid collisions) so I put on my most determined expression and forge ahead. It seems to work great. With only a few bumps I manage to find the right road according to the map.

The market was described as a big three story building with small traders on the bottom and big traders and artists studios filling the top two. The area I am in now is not touristy at all, even not many stores around, so it should stand out. I spot a small market of to the right, but his can’t possibly be it so I keep heading straight. After crossing a beautiful little stream and park, it turns out I wasn’t supposed to and I walked straight pass my goal. That little outdoor market is the great antique market..!?

Well, since I made it this far, I might as well go for a look.

Outside are small stores mostly selling nicknacks. Coins, books, prayer beads, precious stones and a few “antiques”. Behind it all the big building is hiding, but upon entering, most of it is deserted. The shops are full but closed up. The salespeople in the few that are open are fast a sleep. I seem to be the only customer wandering around. Their are some beautiful pieces up here, carved stone lions and vases more than 2 meters high. Great, but not possible to fit in my bag. The downstairs nicknacks deserve a second look.

I have my heart set on some older Mao porcelain and multiple vendors have some pieces. Starting prices vary from 60 each to 250 each! Eventually I make my way back to the lady that had two nice pieces for a reasonable price, but she was tied up in a business deal with a group of Spanish tourists. To pass the time I brows through the stall next door and discover two nicer pieces and after a bit of haggling, go ahead and buy those. Bartering does no come natural to me and always leaves me feeling like I paid to much. My second offer was already accepted, but I ended up with two pieces for 30 yuan and I am happy!

Going back I decide to try to find the broad and narrow streets. Another must see around the city. Through a busy park, full of rides for the little ones, back to the main roads and through more gates. No idea how or why the broad street got started, but it is very quirky with lots of bronze artworks decorating the walls. Perfect selfie material. Some are based on the history of the city. I also get dragged into the narrow street by the throng of people, but it turns out to be just a cleaned up back alleyway. Not sure why this is interesting,but I guess if you have a broad street, you need a narrow one…

Time to find the bus back and check how Andrew is doing at the hotel..

The little alleyways have turned me around and my sense of direction has completely let me down, so instead of walking to the busstop I end up walking the wrong way. A fun way though, as I come across a graffiti wall. I have not seem proper graffiti yet in China, fun, colourful and weird. Eventually I find where I am on the map and decide that now I might as well keep walking as the hotel is only a few extra km’s away.

Andrew was feeling a bit better and came out for a quick meal. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and we can go for the gorge.

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