Steve's China Blog

Monday, January 09, 2012

Last week of 2011

On Christmas Eve Sarah and I went to the Lazy Pug for dinner. The menu was similar to their Thanksgiving menu except that the dessert was apple caramel cheesecake instead of the pumpkin cheesecake. It was very delicious. On Christmas day we went to the Kempinski Hotel for their Christmas brunch buffet. It was really good too, and we both ate a lot. I do not think we had dinner that evening, since we were both so full.

Sarah and I after Christmas Eve dinner at the Lazy Pug.

We had been planning to go to Sapporo Japan for the holidays to visit my friend Reese, who is there on assignment for a few months, but Sarah didn't apply for her visa in time so we couldn't go, so we decided to go spend a few days skiing at XiLing Snow Mountain nearby Chengdu instead.

We left for XiLing Mountain on the Tuesday after Christmas. There are two buses that go from Chengdu to the mountain each day, but when we got to the bus station they were both sold out, so we caught the next bus to Dayi. When we arrived in Dayi we had lunch, and then found three other people to share a ride up to the mountain. It was slow going from Dayi since they were still repairing a lot of the road that had been damaged by landslides. I'm not sure if these were from landslides resulting from the earthquake three years ago, or not.

Blocked traffic due to road repair on the way to Xiling Mountain.

We arrived at the mountain in the late afternoon, and took a cable car up to the top of the mountain.

Entrance to cable cars up the mountain.

It was very foggy up on the mountain, but we were really excited to see the snow!

Sarah in the snow.

We stayed at a new hotel there called the Scandina Resort Hotel, which was suppose to be like a Scandinavian style of resort. When we booked the room we wanted a room with heated floors, but the room we got did not have this. After a few hours of complaining we were moved to a very nice room with heated floors. It was cold up on the mountain, so it was worth the time complaining.

Some icy steps leading up to some villas.

Our (final) villa.

On Wednesday we went over to the ski resort area. They had a bunch of things to see and do; such as snowmobiling, dog sleds, etc...

Sarah with a snow making machine.

Nice puppy!

On the (not so) Great Wall.

We came there to go skiing, so we got our lift tickets, ski's, boots, etc... and went out to the slopes. There were a few hundred skier's about, and almost all of them were beginners. We went over to the beginner area, and I taught Sarah some basics of skiing. She and I went a little way up the slope and came down a few times so she could get use to being on the ski's. Like all beginners she got good at falling down a lot, but unlike most she got very good at getting right back up!

Many beginners braving the bunny slope.

At the top of one of the beginner slopes.

Smoke break.

At some point I wanted to go down a tougher slope, but found out that there were half-a-dozen or so of ruling elites visiting the mountain, and only they could use the chair lift up to the big slope. I would have to wait until later in the afternoon before they opened the lift to us mere peasants.

One of the steeper slopes.

Sarah (middle) coming down the bunny slope.

After about 6 hours of skiing we started to feel tired, and decided to call it a day. Sarah was a bit bruised, but we both had a great time. We were looking forward to going to a nearby hotel for BBQ, but when we got there we found out that we had to signup earlier for the BBQ. There were not many places to eat up on the mountain, so we decided to order some Sichuan food for dinner instead. One of the dishes we ordered was a dish of chicken, peppers, and onions. We figured that the chicken used for this dish was the weakest chicken in China since it had bones, skin, and hardly any meat on it.

On Thursday we decided to go down the mountain early and get our bus tickets before they sold out. It had been very foggy on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the sun came out on Thursday. It was a nice trip down on the cable car.

A view back up the mountain.

A view down the mountain.

In the cable car.

One of the nice views of the mountains.

When we arrived at the spot where we would catch the bus we were told that we didn't buy tickets back, but it was first come - first served, so we decided to hang around at the bottom of the mountain and catch the next bus back. We had some time to do a little browsing of the local vendors and Sarah ate some snacks.

Some vendor shops near the base of the mountain.

Sarah having a tofu snack.

The bus ride back was much faster than the trip to the mountain, and we had time to stop for an early dinner. Chengdu seemed warm after being up on the snowy mountain the last few days. By the next day though we could feel the chilly damp weather of Chengdu in winter.

On Friday evening I joined Sarah, Kitty, and Jackie for a hotpot dinner. Jackie had moved back to Chengdu the day before, after several years of living in Beijing. We thought she would enjoy some real hotpot! It was a really good dinner, and I tried not to eat too much (I did though).

Kitty and Jackie enjoying some hotpot.

After dinner Sarah and I walked over to the Shamrock Pub, chatted with our friends Claire and Dave, and had a few glasses of wine. We ended up talking about really good and bad movies, TV shows, books, etc... I didn't really want to stay so long, but it was very late when I got home. Surprisingly I felt ok the next day, which was good since it was New Year's Eve.

On the evening of New Year's Eve I went to the Lazy Pug with my friends Sarah, Kitty, Jackie and Johnson. The New Year's Eve party there was pretty laid back. The theme of the party was Tacky 80's Music Dance Party. It was a lot of fun! We ate a lot of different appetizers and chit-chatted all night. After midnight a lot of the people there danced, including Kitty and Jackie.We didn't stay too long after that though.

Sarah, Kitty, Jackie, and Johnson at the Lazy Pug.

Sarah enjoying a lychee martini.

Some others ringing in the new year at the Lazy Pug.

Dancing in the new year.

Welcome to 2012.