Finally in China

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I arrived today in Chengdu, China. Its quite a change from Thailand (Especially because Bangkok is a fairly modern city and is much more western). Anyway I decided to challenge myself and take the bus rather than take a taxi or be picked up. It was quite an adventure - The bus looked like it was built in the 1940s and was extremely slow and clunky. There are also basically no rules for driving in Chengdu - the bus simply honked to alert people it would be pulling across a street - there really appeared to be no stop signs or traffic lights that I could see, just a lot of cars slowly entering the intersection and trying not to run into each other (Intermixed with hundreds of bicycles and scooters going in various directions)There were lanes in most areas, but they were basically ignored in most areas, it was not uncommon to see about 3 lanes of cars all turning at the same time and trying to make themselves into one lane after they made it around the corner. In either case I made it safe to the hostel and thankfully i had printed a map of the area and with that and my basic hand signals I was able to make it without getting too lost.

There are very few foreigners in Chengdu, I think I saw only one other white person while I was in the airport. In the hostel of course there are about 20 or 30 foreigners (mostly Europeans I believe) but that is about it. I had to make a quest for an ATM from the hostel tonight which was also quite interesting. First Chengdu is very dirty, there is a haze of pollution over the city and the entire sky is white, you can only see about 1/8 of a mile at best. Other than that it is quite western (especially downtown) with various storefronts selling different products and a few skyscraper sized buildings (Population is about 4 million) thrown in. Again I didnt see any foreigners on my 20 minute walk - so being tall (relatively speaking), blond, and blue-eyed I am a bit of a novelty. I have caught a few people staring, but always with a smile on their face - I think they are happy to have tourists in their city.

Tomorrow I am taking the bus to Leshan to see the world's tallest Buddha which should be quite interesting. I have also booked my flight to tibet for Friday so I should be in Lhasa by Friday afternoon - its a one way ticket so I am not sure where I will be going from there, going to try and find my way to Beijing and then back to Chengdu in time to catch my flight to South Korea. I will try and get some pictures online tomorrow depending on how long this Leshan trip takes.

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