Today I went for my first real city run in Chengdu. The sun was shining, the pollution wasn’t too bad, and I just couldn’t take the thought of one more run on the consulate treadmill.
Chengdu’s main thoroughfare is a very well-kept, wide boulevard called Renmin Lu (the People’s Road). As long as one is willing to dodge a few of the rogue scooters and cars that prefer sidewalk driving to the city streets, its actually makes for a rather pleasant stretch of pavement.
Of course, even when the pollution isn’t too bad, there are still a few hazards to be dealt with.
First, of course, did I mention the scooters and petty cabs and cars driving on the sidewalks?
Then, there are the dogs. We don’t have many strays here in Chengdu but one found me today and chased me almost the whole way home. It was the sprint workout from hell that I had never planned on doing in the first place.
Last but not least on the list of running hazards in Chengdu: dinner.
This last one is somewhat unique to our fair city and our citizens love for all things hot and spicy.
To put it quite simply: the kitchen exhaust coming off of the roadside restaurants could probably kill you.
In fact, I’m fairly sure the smoke from burning hua jiao (the fiery and numbing Sichuan peppercorn) could be used as a chemical weapon, and it probably has been.
I made the mistake of inhaling just outside a tiny hole-in-the-wall joint and ended up in a fit of coughing and watery eyes, gasping for (only slightly less toxic) air.
And then the yappy stray dog found me.
Still beats the treadmill though, in my book.