Jinjiang River in Two Hours

Aug 05, 2009
*Special to asia!

The mission was to find dinner. I got a map from the hotel and became curious about the this ancient river that was so close to my hotel. So I made a detour.

I get to Wu Ding Bridge again and decide to walk back on the opposite side of the river from where I came from. Then my foot begins to protest. A few days ago, I went running in the wrong pair of shoes and continue to pay the price for it, pulling a few muscles in my ankle and soles. I began to limp. I decide to take a break. I slow down and watch as this lady lays down an absolutely tiny chihuahua and white poodle onto a patch of grass. The poodle goes crazy. It's trying to play with the chihuahua but doens't realise it's much bigger and stronger. The lady tells the poodle to leave the little one alone. It runs off for about 30 seconds then returns to bother the small dog. The lady in her summer dress sits on the grass, pours some water into the bottle cap and asks the dogs to come over for a drink. The poodle bounds towards her. The chihuahua in seeing the poodle bury its muzzle into the cap, decides to let the poodle go first. Across from her, a man and woman groom a silver-coloured husky. They are meticulous. The husky seems to like it. A boy is roller-blading on the grass and families watch the sunset along the river. If there weren't as many sky scrapers, the sunset would turn the river golden.

My foot stops throbbing, but it still hurts to walk. So I decide to take the homeward walk slow. I enter a walkway with stone benches along both sides. An arch of green vines grow over the walkway and I suppose it must provide lots of shade during midday. It's probably why a handful of homeless people have set up camp there. Some young, some old. All skinny. The vines that provide them shade in summer probably won't provide warmth in the coming winter.

I meet more dog walkers. Some on leashes, some free ranging. More varieties now - retrievers, collies, Alsatians, corgis, another husky. All in ship shape and very well behaved. Some were just sniffing about, others seated at the heels of their owners. Some of the little dogs could even jump into the front baskets of their owner's bicycles without command when it was signaled that it's time to go home.

I come across another group doing taichiquan. A larger group this time. Half of them seem to be practicing a more advanced series than the other. Several people are watching this time. I join in. An excuse to rest my foot. Again some dogs wandered between the taichi practitioners, but they don't seem to bother anyone. Everyone seems to be in sync with whatever is going on around them.

A few Intermediate egrets fly westwards along the river, perhaps toward their roosting grounds. In their place, tiny little fruit bats are plying the trees that line both sides of the river. With a population of 11 million people, Chengdu's parks are important and necessary places for citizens to just sit on the green, unwind and enjoy the energy that flows along with their ancient rivers. Even at sundown, the park is busy. At the end of the street, ladies in work outfits are learning classical Chinese dance. I imagine they've come her after knocking off from work. Women of all ages, grandma's included.

Back onto Ren Min Bei Road, hawkers with their bicycles gather along the street, under the light cast by lamp posts to sell fresh peaches, grapes, olives, and roasted walnuts. The air is saturated with the distinct aroma of Sichuan fare. Lots of spices. Noodle houses are a buzz. And by this time, I've definitely worked up an appetite.

I settle with a bowl of freshly made, spicy Sichuan noodles, and a bottle of Tsing Tao Draft. The cicadas are still hard at work to find a mate.

debby ngDebby Ng forayed into journalism following failed attempts at becoming a world-class equestrian. A wildlife crime investigator, underwater photographer, dive master and founder of a marine conservation organisation, she spends what remains of her time writing about the environment, its wildlife, and its people.

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