Chengdu

Rumbles of thunder echo beneath the constant rattle of cicada-like insects. The morning air is muggy, the afternoon air is muggy, the night air is muggy. Rain is in the forecast today and with it might come slightly cooler temperatures, if only for a few hours.

Yesterday morning the rain fell from a gray sky. If I could forget the heat, I could almost think it a Seattle-like morning–a blanket of gray, misty air and rain shrouding the tops of skyscrapers. My body craved sunshine, and yet the constant heat made me rejoice for a cloud-covered sky (unlike Seattle, where I always loved the sunny summer).

Last week I relished in the sight of a beautiful sunset at a nearby lake, and seeing the stars. Today I’m wishing for more rain.

Welcome to summertime in Chengdu, in the Sichuan province of western China.

Chengdu is an ancient city, though by the looks of the current skyline littered with high-rise apartment buildings and dozens of cranes erecting more tall towers, it would seem newer. Chengdu, along with many places in China, has seen recent rapid growth and development; however, it should be noted that this area itself has been inhabitaed for over 4,000 years.

The reality of this hit me yesterday when I stared at a bronze piece excavated from around this city, dated back to 475-221 BC. The Sichuan Museum has a unique collection of pottery, ceramics, stone carvings, and bronze ware made through the ages and found in Chengdu and other places in the Sichuan province.

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Bronze cooking ware dating back to 475-221 BC, on display at the Sichuan Museum in Chengdu

I’m still contemplating the ancient artifacts and the bustling city I see, hear, and feel around me every day: busy roads, car horns, people walking, ancient pottery, towering apartment buildings, construction cranes, expanding subway system…Chengdu is my home, at least for the next month. It has been my first experience in China, a window into life in the world’s most populous nation. This is still the beginning of life in China, with many layers left to see and experience. My eyes are open.

The distant thunder is gone, and the rain didn’t come near as I had hoped (at least not yet). It’s Sunday, and I’m staying inside for awhile resting my body from the intense schedule of being a Peace Corps Trainee and preparing for the week ahead. It’s going to be another busy one: mid-training interview, preparing for the future language proficiency interview, more sessions about teaching English, and more. With such an intense schedule, I enjoy the brief moments of rest and renewal so I can ready myself to keep moving through this training.

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