The reason for my visit to Chengdu was purely to visit the Wolong Panda Reserve. However heard many people say “You haven’t been to Chengdu until you’ve tried Chengdu Hotpot” and now I know why!
After a 32 hour train journey (even though it was a luxury train journey with nice beds and flat screens) I was still wondering why I never brought a cheap flight to Chengdu then I remember my other internal flight in China and remember why! They didn’t have the greatest of safety records, and the landing was by no means the best I have encountered, but I was warned! The rough guide actually advises you to take other means of transport over internal flights in China.
Anyway after meeting a Chinese English teacher who desperately wanted to make the most of us English to practice on decided to take us on a tour of Chengdu. For half the day we sat in a Chinese tea garden drinking many cups of tea. I mean free refills all day how can you resist?
And after that we didn’t need any of the Chengdu car hire companies courtesy of our new guide, so off we went round the back streets to get a traditional Chengdu Hotpot.
Yes that is a frog and worse its actually still alive! Chinese like their food fresh! The worst part of this dish was watching our guide dive in with his chopsticks and pull off the frogs head and eat it whole, to then spit the scull out. This is the delicacy. I did eat the frog but didn’t dare try the head on the second frog. The meat wasn’t too bad as you could wash down with a nice beer, but the skin tasted just like 9v battery terminals across your tongue. The actual organs were pretty horrid too.
The hotpot consisted of two half’s, one side for hot & spicy the other sweet & sour in a dish which looked pretty much like the yin yang symbol.
Other tasty ingredients consisted of ducks intestine, ox stomach, cow tongue and some other stuff which our guide couldn’t translate so im still puzzled today. What really worried me was that the two little pots of powder I was sprinkling on consisted of MSG and Opium!
All in all Chengdu was a fantastic trip especially to get to see the Giant Pandas, but due to our Hotel forgetting to book our train journey had a very unpleasant hour arguing with them as we had no where to stay! Everywhere else was fully booked which they found highly amusing.
I have to say I couldn’t wait to get to Shanghai after this!