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Back from China (for the 5th time)

9:21 a.m.

Another successful China trip under my belt. I believe that makes 5 now.

We visited Chengdu for 5 days and went to the Panda Preserve. It wasn't really what I was expecting. I was thinking it would be more like a breeding center where I could see teams of baby pandas playing on big structures, and maybe see a lot of staff actually interacting with pandas. Instead, it's more like a large zoo where every exhibit is pandas. 2-3 per area, and very spread out, but still just organized like a zoo. Also, apparently pandas breed once a year and have cubs in the summer, so the youngest I could see were almost a year old, so they were already pretty big. But I still got a video of some playing and rolling around, just looking cute in general.

In Chengdu, we ate legit Sichuan food for almost every meal. It was even spicier than I thought it would be. Our first night, we ordered this dish that was just cabbage and some peppers. My first bite: Mmm, pretty good... nice flavor... a little spicy... then I swallowed it and opened my mouth to breathe air, and WHAM the spice hits me! I teared up and my tongue went numb. I coughed and said, "hoooooly shit!" Then Diane did the exact same thing... haha one bite, "It's not that spicy!" ... 10 seconds later, "oh!!"

The second day, we got rained out. We just shopped downtown Chengdu in a big mall, and had a Sichuan hot pot lunch. Again - insanely spicy. And then I smelled like the hot pot the rest of the day.

Third day, we went up to Qingchengshan, the birthplace of Taoism. It's nestled up in the foothills of the Himalayas in this area that's essentially a rain forest. It was so beautiful. We climbed a ways to these cable cars, then took the cable car to about midway up the mountain. We just hung out there - Diane's parents weren't about to hike the rest of that mountain, and we wanted to check out this ancient dam / canal system called Dujiangyan.

That night, Diane and I went to a popular bar area downtown called Jiuyanqiao. Most of the bars were ridiculous Chinese style bars where the music was too loud (and essentially karaoke) and the drinks were just 12 packs of beer for sale. But we did find a cute little bar with a legit bartender who made me a long island, and it was good. That guy knew what he was doing. That was a nice, quiet night out in the rain.

We went to Dujiangyan, which was a beautiful park, but I didn't care too much about the ancient canal system. They basically had just split the river by building a man-made island, and used the redirected water for irrigation. Cool for a few thousand years ago, but less impressive looking at it today.

Then we flew back to Tianjin the next day and spent the next 10 days hanging out there with Diane's family. Lots of family dinners, plenty of shopping days, and some fun times playing arcade games at these big kid places at the mall.

We flew home on Saturday. I missed the connecting flight in Seattle because for some reason, I saw the military time 13:10 and thought it meant 3:10 PM (haha) so we totally missed the flight and had to sit an extra 5 hours in the airport.

We're still pretty jet lagged, I woke up around 3 AM and couldn't sleep again. Yesterday, I only slept 10 PM to midnight. But at least work is pretty low-key this week, so I can just relax.

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Cast of Characters

Nate Me, work-from-home web dev, amateur chef, runner, and semi-pro gamer.

Diane My better half, chinese telecommunications engineer who loves K-dramas and yoga.

Will My kiddo, a four year old lego architect, shark enthusiast, and dino expert.