Day 2 began in Shanghai and ended in Chengdu. We kicked off the morning with another Chinese breakfast – very similar to yesterday. Today I loaded up on more of the kale salad, pickled veggies, tofu noodles with peanuts, veggie dumpling, red bean dumpling, rice pudding, and squash.
Did you notice the chopsticks? I forgot to mention that every meal we ate in China was chopsticks only – good thing I’m comfortable using them.
After breakfast, we headed for the airport – this time we were able to hitch a ride on the Maglev! Maglev comes from “magnetic levitation” – the train essentially flies along the track using magnets for lift & thrust. Top speed we saw was 431 km/hr, which is about 268 mi/hr! It’s a very smooth ride, you would never know how fast we were going!
Arriving in Chengdu, we headed to check-in to our hotel and a little time to relax before dinner. Dinner was at a local, hole-in-the-wall type of place that one of our friends knew about from his time in China. It was incredible, probably one of my favorite meals of the week. I have to say the pictures didn’t come out like I hoped here, but we had already started eating before I remembered to take pictures.
After dinner, it was on to the Opera! The Sichuanese Opera is not what you are thinking about, although there are a few parts with operatic singing in Chinese (read: loud, high-pitched, and a little pitchy to my ears).
The street where the opera is staged is all reconstructed traditional-style buildings. The stores were filled with tea shops, art stores, & restaurants. Every nook and cranny of the buildings were painted and decorated – even the insides of the eaves!
We headed back off the street to the “Opera House”, which was an open pavilion hung with paper lanterns and surrounded by souvenir stores and decorated in a traditional style. The darkened stage had a few seats and stands on it – we weren’t sure what to expect.
The first act featured the musicians who accompanied most of the remaining acts. They used many traditional chinese instruments that I know nothing about, but sounded like the style of music I associate with China.
There was a puppet act, where the puppeteer was introduced as 85 years old and had made the puppet he is controlling. It was very interesting – the hands on this puppet were picking up flowers, manipulating a handkerchief – it was amazing!
Then, my personal favorite, shadow animals! This was a younger guy who walked about and sat in front of a light projecting onto the back of a screen. I found this fascinating – look at all the cool animals he made with his hands: dog, swan, horse, owl, bunnies, & birds!
Next was a short skit – all in Chinese of course – with a husband who came home late after a night out with the boys. The wife puts him through all kind of “tests” to try to punish him (at least that’s what I understood). In the part pictured below, he had to slide under two benches while balancing a lit candle on his head. It was pretty funny!
Last up was a Sichuan specialty, costume changing and mask changing. The performer would hold up hold up the red flag covering his body and quickly pull it away – revealing him in a completely different outfit. Then they would turn their head to the side and when they turned back, the mask they were wearing was changed. It was pretty neat to watch, even when we could see how they were doing it.
That was the end of the Opera – not what you expect from an Opera, right?!