Day 1: "Divine Light", straw thatch and hopefully no smoke. This journey begins in Chengdu. If you need advice or assistance getting to Chengdu then please contact us. This day starts with an excursion to Baoguang Temple (the Temple of Divine Light). This Buddhist temple is built on a grand scale and contains many precious artifacts. The Arhat sculptures are amongst the best anywhere. Our next stop is the Du Fu Thatched Cottage. Du Fu was a very famous Chinese poet in the Tang Dynasty.
He composed most of his best work here in a simple dwelling and the reconstruction is a shrine to the man and his literature. The site exudes grace and calm: great themes found in his work. In the afternoon you will cook your own supper. We have a Sichuan-style Cooking Lesson arranged so that you learn something of the food that will have delighted you so far. Meals: lunch, dinner.
Day 2: Alien Mounds. We dedicate the entire day to the relatively new site Sanxingdui. Translated as "Three Star Mounds" this doesn't sound too promising but actually the discoveries here are about as exciting as archaeology gets. The site is attributed to the Shu culture; that would be fine except that this culture is not mentioned in any written source. That is unusual enough. Had the relics been ordinary pots and pans no-one would have taken much notice. However, digs in the 1980s revealed some truly amazing pieces believed to be sacrificial in nature.
Bronze and gold items show a high level of technical competence as well as a strikingly original form of artistic expression. Probably the most notable feature associated with the site is huge, protruding eyes: leading some to say that the Shu must have been aliens from space. The exhibition halls are very modern and exceptionally well-designed. The various displays will have you enthralled. In the evening we visit Jinli Street, once a famous commercial street and now preserved to represent the old Chengdu. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 3: Solemn and Poetic. This morning we head off to Wenshu Monastery a majestically solemn place which is famed for its collection of both religious and secular treasures. These include a jade Buddha from Burma, a piece of skull said to be from Xuanzang, the monk that fetched original scriptures from India, and a vast collection of paintings and calligraphy. Our other stop is at Wangjiang Tower Park. This site honours another poet, Xue Tao, one of the few ladies to achieve such distinction. The tower and more than 150 species of bamboo will grab your attention.
We will be met in the park by a local Tai'chi master to have a lesson. Please note: The day's activities are planned to end mid-afternoon. You can therefore plan to continue your travels this evening. If you want to stay in the city for a bit longer to do your own thing then you can easily book extra nights at the same hotel with us. Meals: breakfast, lunch.
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