<Side note: These posts are from a trip I made in 2012 and lived in a gorgeous city named Chengdu for 5 months. Nevertheless, its memories are fresh and warm in my mind and I’d love to share them with you. >
My colleagues Vivian and Lex were kind enough to offer to take another Indian colleague and me to Huanglongxhi – the yellow dragon spring. We had to take a bus trip for more than an hour to get there. It is an old city on the banks of a brook. It had a dragon created in the brook that crossed through city too. It had charming streets, pretty bridges, occasional towers and of course, lovely snacks and trinkets available for sale. It will be, possibly the only place I’d ever walk around all day with a ring of flowers on my head! (My excuse was, while in Rome…)
On the way back from there a group of kids enter the crowded bus and immediately stand around me in a half circle and decide to stare at me intently wondering what new species I was. A heated discussion ensues in rapid Chinese, while I try not to react to the staring, which as I am seated, is directly at eye level. A full 10 minutes later, there is a moment of silence, and one among them, the little boy poses like a Roman king delivering a speech, stretches his hand ahead with a flourish and speaks the dramatic words… “What…is ..your name!”.
I try hard not to pinch his adorable cheeks at the moment and just smile and give him my name. The group looks utterly confused at the sound of my name. So I spell it, writing each letter on my palm. What I didn’t expect next, was that all of them get it at the same moment and repeat my name a bunch of times making the whole crowded bus look in my direction while I try to disappear. One older girl from a different group even took out her dictionary and read out the word, “Beautiful” while I just nodded my thanks. As awkward as that was, they did make immensely lovely company with translation from Vivian who was seated behind me and my first big, little group of friends in China all bid me farewell when they left, leaving me beaming for the rest of the evening.
It was the first time during my stay that I had actually seen the sun in ChengDu, so spring was officially here. Roads lined with stunning white magnolias and fields of cheery yellow canola blossoms (For some cursed reason despite their beauty, nothing comes to mind other than Shahrukh khan in his trademark pose from DDLJ :/) It took several buses and an assortment of other modes of travel to reach the rear gate of Mt.Qincheng.
An elderly gentleman in the seat in front of us was reading a booklet with pictures of a tourist place and I couldn’t help noticing it had English captions too. I requested for the book through my friend Erica and when I returned it, he asked where I was from. I always find it interesting to know what the first thing was, that comes to people’s mind when I mention India. He said with a happy smile, ‘That’s were Budhhism came from’ :). It was the warmest reaction I’d gotten till now, even counting the innumerable times I’ve heard that ‘Indian women are so pretty’ .
The trip at Mt.Qincheng started out being deceptively effortless with charming old streets, temples along the way with incense and candles, the hanging bridge and the cable car ride with a lovely view of the brooks and the stately trees in the forest on the verge of springtime.
A lot of the path was generously sprinkled with rounded pebbles that I assumed were there to avoid people slipping in the rains, but Erica surprised me by saying that they were there so that your feet get a massage as you walk, as the path of the trek was long!! There were huge boulders all along the way and scrawny twigs that seemed to be trying to hold them up. They were supposedly placed there by people, after making a wish for something they wanted dearly. What was that again about faith moving mountains?
Then the actual trek began and boy, do I hate steps or do I hate steps! Even with the frequent pit-stops along the way the trek had begun to take its toll on our unused feet and since we didn’t want to specifically see the temple on the top…we instead walked another route down to pass through a valley with caves and streams and that was definitely the best decision of the day.
The route was spectacular, the water gushing into a fantastic whiteness only to go on to reveal the colored pebbles smoothed to perfection under its unceasing care, enormous boulders that seemed to just gently balance on their sides on a whim, linking pathways made of tree trunks that looked almost roughly put together and yet faultlessly perfect for the ambience, and waterfalls with caves linked to stories involving dragons, fairies and princes.Little surprise then that there were several painters with their material perched on rocks and trying to re-create the splendour on paper.
Some moments just make you want to pause time, make you want to savor the experience of just being there and make wish you could return to it at will. The whole effect together was that of an emerald wonderland that takes my breath away at every turn.