Martyn popped out early and came back with some different steamed buns for breakfast – they were a bit bland by themselves but lovely with the remaining chocolate eggs or the cherries we bought yesterday. We also managed to cut up the mangosteens with Martyn’s nail scissors – they have a tough outer skin but the inner white tissue is very tasty, even if it does look a bit like a head of garlic!
The airport is round the other side of lake so our taxi ride gave us a good view across to Dali ancient city. We passed lots of wedding venues en route, presumably making used of the lovely backdrop for photos. Dali airport is tiny, with very short queues everywhere and a relaxed coffee shop right next to our gate, where we ate glutinous rice balls filled with sweet peanut butter for second breakfast. Not my favourite texture, I have to say! One of the oddest things I’ve ever seen for sale at an airport, as well as the usual pre-packed sweets and tourist goodies, was a cabinet full of dried herbs and mushrooms, for sale loose.
Our flight filled up and set off early and made such good time that we were out of Chéngdū airport, with our bags, before we should have landed! Ed negotiated two ordinary, green taxis back to the city and we all arrived back at the apartment at the same time. We’re getting the hang of the system now and it saves a lot of money not having to get people to arrange special pick-ups in seven seater vehicles. We were all hungry so went straight across the road for a noodle lunch with Ed then he headed home to do some washing. We relaxed for an hour or so then set off to walk to Rosie and Sam’s hostel, the Flip Flop hostel near Chunxi Road; about a twenty minute walk from us. It was quite bizarre walking into a hostel in Chéngdū and seeing them sitting there! We drank tea on their pretty roof terrace accompanied by rather loud music whilst we waited for Ed to arrive – it’s very nice but doesn’t quite have the charm of those in Dali or Kunming.
The temperature was over 30 Celsius and it felt very humid, after Dàli. Rosie and Sam had stayed for their first few days at a hostel up near Wenshu monastery and recommended the vegetarian restaurant where they’d eaten with new friends a couple of days before so we got the metro with them up. The setting was lovely – an air conditioned private room overlooking the monastery itself – and the company great but the food was a little disappointing – quite samey. Lots of vegetables treated to make them feel like meat and too much chilli hotness at the expense of other flavours. The ‘incidental’ vegetarian food we’ve been eating, particularly in Kunming, has been more varied.
We all got the metro back to Tienfu Square then young ones went on to ‘fake Revs’ for a drink while we headed back on foot – we were all quite tired. At least today, with the sunshine, the air here has felt less polluted.