On a tip from Z., the totally awe-inspiring proprietor of Chengdu’s most amazing (and only) little French cafe, Chris and I went strolling today down some streets that we would have otherwise not have found.
We were chatting with Z. at her cafe when she said that today felt like Europe to her, with the sunshine and the mid 70’s temperatures and the clear air. She and her husband, a Frenchman, lived in France for several years before coming back to Chengdu to open their cafe (and share their infant son with his grandparents :)), so Z. knows.
(Z. also speaks fluent French, English, Mandarin, and Sichuanhua and it amazes me every time to watch her switch between all four as she simultaneously accepts a local flour delivery, explains a goat cheese salad to an upper-class Chinese, greets a French Consulate family, and then returns to her and I’s oh-so-important conversation about proper croissant-making equipment. Z. doesn’t so much serve her patrons as much as she floats gracefully from conversation to conversation in such a way that, only when she makes her exit, do you realize that she has managed to clear your plate, refill your water glass and promise a dessert on its way to your table, without you scarcely noticing a thing.)
Like my friend A., Z. is one of those rare people here who is wholly Chengdu-ren but also wholly her own person with taste and an eye for beauty that would be a pleasure to find anywhere, but especially here in little ol’ Chengdu. So when she recommended we take advantage of the beautiful day to check out a teahouse around the corner, we couldn’t help but stroll that way.
And what we found was not just a beautiful little teahouse, but also one of the more pleasant neighborhoods we’ve seen yet in Chengdu.
The streets were clean but not gentrified-looking. There were hardly any cars. There was a sense of peace and quiet that you rarely find here in Chengdu. The way the palm trees shaded the streets made it feel like we were in some semi-exotic semi-tropical destination rather than Chengdu.
After a morning filled with burnt electrical wires and revelations about poor electrical work and watery walls, that walk was just the thing we needed.
Perhaps the beautiful weather today and the beautiful stroll was a bit wasted on us-we do leave for Malaysia tomorrow after all-but we still enjoyed it tremendously.
Now its off to pack for our honeymoon before dinner! Hope you are having as beautiful a weekend as we are.