|Chengdu, Sichuan, China||Week 12 14th - 15th July 2011|
| Du Jiang Yan is where the Min River opens out onto the
Chengdu (Sichuan) Plain.
Before we get to the significance of that we walked through the gardens.
Just four panels with an imaginative (to me) use of roof tiles.
|We were accompanied by soft music from inconspicuously placed blue "rock speaker"s.|
| The Baopingkon Water Inlet dates back to about 200 BC.
Li Beng became a bit fed up of the cycles of flood and drought. Obviously it was effecting his income from taxes as well as the mood of his people.
It was intriguing to me as I spent a lot of my time removing bottlenecks from systems. Li Beng introduced one.
The trapezoidal design provides sufficient water when most required but limits the flow during flood.
And the really clever bit is that the sand carried by the river gathers to the left of the photo rather than blocking channels downstream.
The irrigation system is alive and well today with more complex control gates upstream. For the techies, a wonderful example of "shunt control".
|The inlet from the opposite bank.|
|Looking upriver to control gates and where the river emerges from the hills and mountains.|
| There were temples to keep us occupied but we couldn't
help notice the rebuilding occuring after the 2008 earthquake (8 on
This struck us as a hard way to earn a living. The bricks are smaller than Western bricks but seemed more dense.
| The foreman is the one with the shiny hat.
Some others had hats but not all and they were dusty.
|The body language from the surveyor said "you've put it in the wrong place".|
| The two ladies had scoops on hooks.
Unhook the empty ones and hook up the full ones.
Carry them away and bring them back empty.
| The bells and ornaments were cast iron, not bronze or
There were some bars between me and the bells so we didn't have a chance to hear the difference.
| This is an old map of the irrigation system.
The control channel is the bottom one.
The original control was built from stones held together with bamboo.
Part of the system was a tax on bamboo which provided some control over how channels were built and maintained.
If I read it correctly when the tax was too high the system had a few failures.
|This is looking upriver from the Yulei Eng Pass.
Built about 865 AD.
It helped protect the Western entrance to the Chengdu Plain.
This temple was near the exit.
There was a series of paintings and descriptions down both sides which explained how Li Beng fought the dragon to tame the waters.
| The Argentinian Soccer Team followed us out through the
A bunch of well behaved primary school kids.
|Du Jan Yang is also a nice town.
Lots of rebuilding still occurring after the earthquake.
|And the bridge we saw illuminated last night.
That's a lot of water flowing fast under it.
| We returned to Chengdu to stop for the night.
The bigger the city the harder to find a camp.
To get Tardis under the overhang we removed the exhaust.
|And just squeezed in.|
|Susanna ended up holding the exhaust.|
|We had dinner at Susanna's parents' apartment where she and
her sister also live.
They all came back to our place to see what this mysterious car looked like.
|Following day was one of rest.
Ali and Susanna took some laundry to .... you guessed it ..... a Chinese laundry! (Didn't you always want to say that!).
I tackled the speedometer and a couple of other repairs.
This is the ratio adaptor from the speedo. Its a gearbox that compensates for the larger than normal tyres.
The inlet doesn't drive the outlet. At A$195 one would have expected some sort of bush rather than steel shaft directly in the casting. In my simple opinion it was just waiting to fail. The Aus supplier hasn't replied to email yet.
|Off to the Opera.
An up market street in the middle of Chengdu.
|We had dinner with Tracy from Navo Tours (tour organisers
and provider of Susanna).
A Sichuan Hotpot.
Very nice food it was too.
| We've had a few questions about our guide,
Susanna. Driving one's own vehicle in China requires a Chinese guide to
accompany the driver. Not our choice but since we have to we make the best
The guide is provided by an agency. In our case Navo Tours.
There are also all sorts of permits required, customs to organise, insurance, driving licence and vehicle registration, and so on.
Susanna is with us 24x7. She stays in Tardis with us. Just our choice. Experience suggests inclusive is better than exclusive. Understanding the limitations (China is a large and diverse country) and potential is probably useful.
Strangely, its the first time in her guiding experience that she's sat in the front - I retained the middle seat when installing the suspension seats. Sleeping is one of the 2m long seat squabs.
So far so good. Its working well. Of course it depends on the people and how the situation is managed. If it wasn't working we'd find a way of making it work.
Given a choice we wouldn't have a guide. But we do understand that self driving through China is somewhat more challenging than other countries so far. Thus we make the most of having a guide.
Susanna's English is excellent. Expecting her to know the English names of some of the obscure fruit and vegetables is one step too far. Its definitely a plus when someone can say "I don't know" without perceptions of losing face!
|The restaurant was a bit different to our usual haunts.
Perhaps time to mention that I can travel in style for short periods or normally for long periods.
I've done both (including first class around the world) and we have chosen the long slow way this time.
There's a small sense that we see a bit more of the local culture and less of the globalised hotel / restaurant / tourist bit.
Not averse to a bit of up market surroundings occasionally though.
|Putting the makeup on for the Opera performance.
The performers were all accessible to the audience before and after the show.
Including photos with them on stage after the show (for 20 yuan).
|The band warmed the show up.|
|Followed by a bit of very serious sounding opera (of which, just like Italian opera, we didn't understand a word but recognised the motions).|
|A solo on the two stringed Erhu.
Sounded like a violin, but no bridge and no fingerboard.
A violin bow is pressed against the strings, this bow is pulled away from the strings (the strings are threaded through the middle of the bow).
Probably quite difficult to get a good tone from. This was a very good performance.
One hand underneath. One hand to control two sticks leading to the hands.
The hands were fully articulated. Various bits of cloth were picked up and twirled. Also flowers which were then placed in the hair.
More dextrous than I.
|A bit more opera.
The guy in the middle looked particularly evil and imposing.
|Chengdu to Guang Wu Shan, Sichuan, China||Week 12 16th - 17th July 2011|