Day 6 (27 October 2012)
I was still undecided on where to go. Jiuzhaigou and Emeishan/ Leshan Giant Buddha were for the following week. Wenshu Monastery would be for tomorrow. I wouldn't be going to Chunxi Street. Sanxingdui was far too troublesome, as two to three changes of buses were required. Luodai was an option. After breakfast, I went to Xinnanmen Bus Station to buy my bus ticket.
I gave RMB100 to the ticketing clerk for the ticket but she said it was only RMB7. I guessed she did not like big bills. After taking possession of the ticket, I noticed that the departure time stated was 18:30. Questions were racing through my mind. Though I don't read or write mandarin, surely my guess of the schedule could not be wrong. There should be buses running continuously until 18:30 as displayed on the schedule!
If it was that late, I was thinking of cancelling the trip and returning the ticket at the counter for Return Ticket but at the same time I was thinking of bringing back the ticket to Traffic Inn to get clarification from the English speaking staff. Then, I remembered from the Chengdu Tourist Information Center staff that there was an English speaking staff at Xinnanmen Bus Station to assist tourist. I saw the counter and approached the officer for clarification. She explained that the departure gate was no. 9 and I should wait there. When I sought clarification, she repeated the same answer and adding that the ticket was valid until 6:30 p.m. She was not helpful and her body language told me that she wanted to get rid of me fast.
I went over to Gate 9 and asked the lady checking the ticket whether that was the gate for Luodai departure. She asked me to pass through. I didn't know which bus and inquired and she pointed to her left, still not knowing which bus from the many parked there. I walked over to another staff there and she pointed to the bus. I exclaimed, "What! No other passengers? Was I the only passenger?" She took my bus ticket and walked off while I boarded the bus. Then, I went out to take a look at the front of the bus to see whether the bus plate number was correct and as usual, it was wrong. On the side of the bus near the door, Luodai was written. As I climbed back, other passengers started streaming in.
The bus left at about 8:45 a.m. and reached Luodai at about 9:35 a.m., a journey of about 50 minutes. Earlier in the morning, I asked Traffic Inn receptionists whether Luodai bus station was far from the ancient town and was told that it was in the city, and it was only a small city. There were a lot of tuk-tuk waiting outside the bus station. All the passengers from the bus had disappeared and a small group seemed lost too and was talking to a tuk-tuk driver. I have no one to follow to the ancient town. I didn't want to take a tuk-tuk but was reluctant to ask around. I just took the street in front and walked on. There seemed to be a lot of people coming towards me from the other end. As I walked, I saw some street stalls selling food. This could only mean tourist business and maybe I was on the right track. I turned right into a street that has some old building and indeed my hunch was correct. I was soon at the ancient town.
My first impression was it was old. Except for the business signs and the businesses, the buildings were left untouched and look old, unlike Huangongxi. Most of the food stands were unpretentious and there were old men and women hawking vegetables, etc. from baskets. How authentic! Definitely not artificial like Kuanzhaixiangzi!
Luodai street food was also shown on TVB8 Explore the Horizon back in July 2008.
At about midday, I turned into a side street. Here, I saw the real Luodai, one that caters to the common people, not the tourists and their dollars. The contrast between the tourist streets and the ordinary streets was so obvious. Here, the street was unpaved, the displays in the shops were plain and simple and there was nobody taking care of the rubbish. The clothes worn were simple and not fashionable like those on the tourist streets.