A day off in Chengdu today so some of us decided to have a small independent adventure.
About an hour from the city is the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. Built in 240BC to solve a problem with flooding, the works divert 40% of a major river into a series of channels that irrigate over 5000 square kilometres.
The local governor Li Bang organised the work using 10,000 artisans. They built a levee using bamboo and rock and then cut a channel through the mountain. All this with hand tools and without any explosives.
Getting there and back involved the local train service. John, our local guide, bought the tickets for us and then we were on our own.
The Chinese rail system is very efficient. The tickets show a train number, carriage and seat. The platform and carriage numbers are shown on electronic boards so it is easy to find the right place. Once on board the destination, expected arrival time and train speed are all show in each carriage.
The trains themselves run on raised tracks between vast modern stations. Our journey was just 40 minutes during which time we hit 200km/h.
John was quite worried about us wandering off on our own but we made it there and back.
In the evening we went to an evening of Szechuan opera. This included acrobatics, juggling, dance, music. It finished with an extraordinary act called "Changing Faces" in which the actors change their masks so quickly you can't see how it is done.
All topped off with a Hot Pot. Here John is putting the duck's tongues and lettuce into the sauce to cook.