Today was our last day in Xi'an. A number of co-workers gave us going away presents, which was TOTALLY unexpected. They do too much for us.
At about 3pm we left the office for the airport. We got there rather more easily than Pavan's previous trip, courtesy of Venne arranging for a car to take us (albeit at our expense).
At the airport we encountered the curious practice of check-in not starting until two hours before your flight time. As we had budgeted a great deal of time for difficulties and confusion which failed to occur we wound up having to wait outside the check-in desk until check-in started. We had anticipated having to pay extra for an additional box of blankets but for some reason the check-in girl didn't charge us. No complaints!
After a short flight we touched down in Chengdu. The airport is 40-60km (depending on who you ask) from the downtown core. A co-worker met us and we stuffed his car with baggage. After a short drive we got to the Chengdu apartment. It was with thoroughly mixed feelings we discovered that it is nicer in just about every way than the Xi'an apartment. It's well-built, has real western amenities, a properly built shower-room, is in a quiet location, has proper heating, and ... well, we could go on but suffice to say it's a world of difference. The only downside of any type is that it's smaller. Although we will enjoy the upgrade for the next month overall the disparity is rather infuriating. It is quite unclear why the standard of living for Xi'an was deemed to be "as bad as they'd accept" while in Chengdu a decent place was provided!!
After dropping our stuff off we got our first taste of Chengdu food. We'd heard hot pot was very popular and were a bit worried as we had never had great hot pot before. Luckily our concerns proved unfounded; the Chengdu hot pot (or hot pot like) meal of skewers placed into a bowl in the center of the table containing two broths was very good. One broth was spicy, the other was fishy (including a small fish floating in it!), and both were delicious.
We had a great time in Xi'an and were sorry to say goodbye, but Chengdu looks like it's going to be pretty good!