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Jinli Street continued.



Coi Pond.


Enjoying "famous dainties" in a tavern.



After relaxing a bit at Jim's house, it was time for my first proper Sichuan dinner.  We were joined by Jim's neighbors, two retired couples about my age, a newly married couple who had started their own computer gaming animation company, a cheerful four year old grandson whom everyone called Dee Dee (little brother), and Jim's lively secretary, Cherry.  
When we sat down, the appetizers were already on the table.  There were thinly sliced chicken gizzards, cooked a perfect medium rare, accompanied by a mound of crushed chili pepper in which one dipped the slices to taste.  There were plates of spicy, pickled elephant ears, a crunchy, rubbery tree fungus I loved to eat as a boy. Then came some plates of raw peanuts, cured in hot chili oil; quite delicious actually.  Finally the large hot pots were set on the burners built into the table.  One was seafood; calamari, shrimp, and perhaps a pound of whole chilies, all bubbling in an oil broth.  The spicy broth created more of a hot tingle than actual pain.  It was much easier to eat than say a jalapeno pepper.  The shrimp could be eaten in shell or peeled.  The shells were cooked to the point of being crunchy, and were quite good.  The other pot contained chopped chicken, bone-in, and a variety of vegetables.  As the meal progressed, several of the guests repeatedly ordered bowls of shi fan (runny over cooked rice) which cleared the mouth of residual heat.  We ate and conversed for perhaps two hours.  The bill for everything came to about $50.


Jim's neighbors.

Everything red is chili pepper.  The yellow peas

are hau-jiao, a spice that tingles the mouth. 

We split up after dinner, some to go shopping, and some to walk home.  Caught in a sudden rain, Jim and I spotted a foot massage parlor and ducked in.  We shed our footwear and were brought wooden tubs filled with a solution that looked like dark tea, but were told it was a kind of oil.  As we put our feet into the tubs to soak, we found the oil quite hot, and it took several minutes of dipping into the tub to get used to it.  We then relaxed on inclined couches as we received a traditional Chinese medicinal foot massage.  It was painful at first, as they used good pressure to awaken the many nerve-intensive pressure points, but gradually the pain gave way to relaxation.  The hour long massage was followed by a specialist exfoliating and manicuring the foot.  A lethal looking barbers razor was used to scrape away all the calluses and dead skin from the bottom of the foot, between the toes, and under the toe-nails.  This residue was carefully wiped on a white paper towel in brownish smears so that we could appreciate the effectiveness of the work.  Another steel implement was worked repeatedly across the end of the toenails to peel them into the proper shape and smoothness.  The process was concluded with another soak in hot solution.  For two hours, the combined fee for the two of us came to $8.  As we limped home, I felt completely relaxed, in the way that one feels relaxed after having just run a marathon.  And then I slept.

Learned exfoliationist.


Morning colors at the High School.

Art vendor.

I spent four days in Chendu.  One of these was museum day.  Jim had to teach, so I took a taxi to two large archaeological museums, one featuring a 1200 BC excavation of an early Chinese community, the other the giant burrial mound of a leading general dating to about 700 BC.  On Sunday, I joined Jim in teaching English to a group of airline pilots and one flight attendant.  One of the pilots used to fly Mig 21s, which gave us a common interest. We discussed China's unique altimetry procedures, special procedures for operating at the 11,000 foot Lahsa airport in Tibet, and special engine out procedures for the many mountainous airports in China.  I found this both fun and interesting.  My observation in talking with them and flying two Chinese airlines is that their procedures could have been right out of the United Airlines operations manual.

Flight Crew.

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