It’s 10am in Chengdu’s downtown area.
With the early morning sun brightening the day, the place is not yet crowded, as it becomes in the evening, in the city where people are more relaxed and tend to stay out late and sleep in the next day.
As a few early morning shoppers walk around — mostly pretty young girls, many in miniskirts, as the weather is warming up and spring has just arrived — we walk in the wide open space toward a stand that sells dan hong gao — a type of traditional pancake with things such as Chinese kimchi stuffed inside.
The stand is inside an old Volkswagon mini-van, the type that was popular in the 1970s in the West, and painted up to look colorful and fun. The side of the van has been removed to expose several choices of ingredients that you can stuff your pancake with, and we choose kimchi on the inside.
It’s a great snack, and great to walk around and look at Chengdu in the early morning.
Chengdu is much like Thailand — laid back and relaxed, and a place where most people don’t get to work until around 10am. In sharp contrast to many other cities in China, people here tend not to like to work too hard, and bars and restaurants are often packed even on a Monday evening.
That’s evident on weekday mornings here, where rush hour doesn’t start nearly as early as in many other Chinese cities, as well as many other places in the world.
People here enjoy food a great deal, in a nation where cuisine is a major part of the culture. While much of the city’s food is spicy, the pancake snack we’re eating today is sweet and savory, and it’s easy to eat three or four, since they’re not that big and are a great snack.
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