I picked up my e-ticket to Kathmandu at Sim’s Guest House travel desk and grabbed a taxi to the People’s Park in central Chengdu. The Lonely Planet spoke highly of it, and I was surprised by what I found.

For a Thursday afternoon, the park seemed quite crowded. As I started to take photos of some flowers near the entrance gate, a Chinese woman asked for a photo of me. I was happy to oblige, though it still felt funny. Soon after, a 70-year old Chinese man came up to me and confirmed his hunch that I was American. We walked around together for a bit, as I was thankful to speak with a local who knew enough English to carry on a regular conversation. He indicated a lot of the people in the park were retired. He asked for a few photos with me, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I was suspicious of the idea. As he lead me toward a photo vendor, I imagined the photos would be taken, and I’d be expected to pay for them. In reality, he wanted them for himself, and asked for my home address so he could send me one too.

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  • David Lee

    In late 2007, I quit my job and left the comfortable life in the USA for the open road with nothing but a 20-pound backpack, a …

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