Oct 10, 2011

A surprise trip to Chengdu

There may be pandas

Home of the Panda (Photo via: sanfamedia.com)
(Photo via: sanfamedia.com)

Some geography to start: Luzhou is a small city of about 1 million, located in southern Sichuan province. Since we’ve gotten here, many people have told us, “This city is so small. You should have gone to Chengdu.” Chengdu is the big dog of Sichuan, the one that if tourists come to the area, they visit. It’s also home to the “Western Hospital.”

So, OK. Our story: In order to get our temporary resident permits, Peter and I have to undergo a physical in Chengdu. We’ve actually been planning on visiting there, as everyone has been telling us, like I said, since day one that we should go there. This afternoon, our coordinator came by to tell us that we should be on a bus to Chengdu in an hour so that we could get our physicals done tomorrow morning. Peter was still in class. Yikes!

So I furiously packed (and washed our dirty dishes!) while our girl made the arrangements. When I came back in to check with her that someone was going to tell Peter that he’d have to leave class early so that we could go, she informed me that, actually, we’d be leaving tomorrow night, and, oh yeah, Senior classes were cancelled tomorrow and Wednesday because they had two days of testing. Also, Friday afternoon classes were going to be rescheduled for some other reason. And, the power was out. For reasons unrelated to our impromptu trip.

We’re getting the idea that this is just how things are done here. A generation ago, your employer might have chosen your spouse for you. So I don’t think the unknown powers that be (our girl is at the mercy of many bosses, I’m pretty sure) think anything of asking you to make an overnight trip as suits them, with no prior notice. But when the trip went from “in less than an hour” to “tomorrow afternoon,” it made all the difference. Like I said, we were eager to make the trip to Chengdu sooner or later - it’s the home of a giant panda reserve! So, instead of teaching classes for the next two days, we’re going on a little trip. With our own guide; the school’s fixer, Mr. Joe, will be accompanying us.

We’ll report back with tales of the big city.