Back in the States, back in my home, my bedroom, sitting here with my dogs, my belly full of cheese, my brain full of aimless, unanswerable questions.  People ask me things like So, what’s China like?  How does life in China compare to the US? or, What kind of stuff do you eat in China? Now I understand why people ask these questions, they’re curious, inquisitive and self admittedly uninformed, so they start with the basics.  But really, how the hell am I supposed to answer these kind of questions.  China is big.  Life in China is different from life in the US.  I eat food in China.

What’s more is when people ask me deeper, more involved questions, I often times have difficulty coming up with an answer for them, as I haven’t even begun to reflect upon my journey in a way that I can draw conclusions.  I’m still in the throws of jet lag, of culture shock, and a little head cold I think I got on the plane.  It’s going to be a while before I’ll really be able to sum my experience up in a way that satisfies people’s need to know and my own need to explain.

So until then I suppose I’ll write about what I did after the last time you all heard from me.  I spent about six days in Chengdu, which is the capitol of Sichuan province, and home to some of China’s spiciest dishes, including the world renowned Sichuan Hotpot, and (my favorite) rabbit head.  Chengdu is also the home of the largest panda reserve in China, as well as the prettiest girls.  It’s said that after a girl marries her mother gives the girl explicit directions to never let her husband go to Chengdu.

Looking back now I think I can honestly say that my few days in Chengdu were among some of the best of my life. I had a crew of mismatched hooligans to trounce around the city with. I had fallen into an unlikely romance with a girl I met in Hangzhou and traveled with to Chengdu. I was confident in my language abilities and my (albeit) slight understanding of Chinese culture.  I was young and able and for the first time in months invigorated with the sense of life being there for the taking.  We didn’t go see the pandas, we didn’t go see the temples.  We slept in and lawled in the garden by the hostel where we stayed into the afternoon.  We drank beer and enjoyed each other’s company.  We got street food at three in the morning after going to KTV.  It was both alien and somehow familiar.  I felt for the first time in China as if I actually belonged there and had not ended up there as the result of some adolescent On-the-Road-thinking , as if it were some strange of version of home.

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