The Red Shoes (and every other colour and style under the sun)

Before heading out for sightseeing I headed to the bus station to buy a ticket to Jiuzhaigou, ended up having to get a return ticket. I think it has something to do with being a National Park. No matter, the main thing is that I have it. Very easy to get there, one bus, hop off, walk back a bit, ticket and a little note in hand to let the station at destination know when o plan to depart. Back to hostel, maybe took just over an hour.

I am not really concerned with vanity nor fashion, I am just questioning the wisdom of wearing shoes with absolutely no support for all the walking up and down stairs, across cobblestone walkways, uneven courses and tripping over people wherever one turns while visiting a popular site during a Golden Week in China.

It would be interesting to do a day of photos of what women are wearing in China these days, especially when on holiday. I admit that even some of the fashion forward young men could easily be included. Not sure I will approach it, not much fin asking permission. I was at the Wu Hou Shrine when I noted all of this. I am not sure where to begin my visit. Perhaps the description on the ticket will provide enough background for when I make my observations.

“The Wuhou shrine…built in 223 AD…covers..150,000 square meters. It consists of … Memorial halls in honour of Zhuge Liang and other ministers in the Shuhan of the Three Kingdoms. …The Wuhou Shrine has brilliantly existed for over 1780 years, and accumulated a rich and profound heritage of Chinese culture and history.”

Sorry, formatting on my iPad is not easy so I put that in quotes. I do believe the people of Chengdu are quite proud of their shrines. This one is easily accessible and backs onto the very busy Jinli walking street where pedestrians can partake of all sorts of delights from food, clothing, toys, drinks and noise. Everywhere there was noise from hawkers, tourists, garbage collectors – do they ever clear a path with their choice of clarion. However, that was after I had gone through the shrine.

photoOne bus, I think I was given the incorrect number of stops but just followed the majority of the people I could see. I did make a detour down a quiet street, one building appeared to be in the process of being gutted, imagine my initial shock to see someone standing on one of the balconies. Closer inspection found it to be a statue of someway Romanesque feature. It is always a wonder what can be found in China. The building appeared to have been apartments.

Back on the main thoroughfare I rounded the corner to head straight into the mass of sightseeing automatons. I believe some were on overload. Little did I know I would soon encounter the same feeling and that look of too much, too many, too far. In earlier posts I mentioned the hundreds waiting for taxis and thousands for trains, these numbers made sense. The same numbers seemed to have converged on the Wu Hou Shrine.

I had a little giggle when the ticket sales woman looked up at me, paused to decide which ticket to give me, looked again, then took my word that I am not yet 60. At least she did not make an automatic assumption. I have been told I do not look older than my current age of 59. After winding my way to get the ticket, then the same to be allowed inside I made a quick decision to go right, there is a set pattern to how structures, gardens and memorials are laid out.

There is a central section, with surrounding areas for walking, or resting, in relative comfort and peacefulness to enjoy the one of the tablets inscribed on the walls or the steles. In addition to these ancient feats of calligraphy, there are clay sculptures of the various ministers that were erected between the mid-1600s to 1800s. Except there was not relative peace with nearly every section for seating taken by someone and the enclosure for the most famous steles difficult were to access when the crowds were five people deep.

Signage is in Chinese and English which made it simple enough to decide what to see. I was quite taken with the bonsai garden, as were half the other thousands of sightseers. However, I did find some tranquil areas that lasted for a few breaths.

Some of the statues atop the cement railings were baffling in their apparent attempt to be included as part of an ancient shrine while made in modern poses. The panda holding a soccer ball was just ridiculous. It was sad to see this as many of the other statues really do appear to be original to the space and the fake ones just undermine what was once an important shrine.

As expected where there are ancient wooden structures smoking is prohibited. I told of three people for smoking. Surely they could wait until after the leave. Such disrespect for the history and anyone in the vicinity. I was rather sad to discover there was one smoking area – with relatively seats too.

Overall the shrine seems to be run down, areas are cordoned off, ostensibly being repaired but a quick look through a partially open metal door I saw the mass destruction seem far too often here. There just did not seem to be any rhyme or reason. In addition, areas that might have been inviting for perhaps tea or a picnic – I did not stay to find out – were shabbily scattered with rattan chairs and tables alongside piles of the same shoved into corners.

My favourites were the calligraphy chiseled into stone. My least favourite, the crowds. I did go to Jinli Street, I was so happy to finally get away from it. Back at the hostel, easy decision made to wait until the next day for anymore outings. At least having my own room I can shut the world out for a while.


Take public transit, but do make sure your number of stops is correct. I get cranky when someone says ‘maybe’ so many stops. I try to pin down the exact number, which could still be incorrect. DO NOT travel during golden week unless you enjoy being tortured.


  • Bus – 4
  • Return bus ticket to Jiuzhaigou – 260
  • Wuhou Shrine – 60
  • Bus – 4; water – 2
  • Lunch at hostel – 15.

One thought on “The Red Shoes (and every other colour and style under the sun)

  1. Your writing really conveys the sense of, “too much, too many, too far,” sensory overload. I was relieved when you made it back to your own room to shut the world out for while. It’s good to be able rest up for the next day’s adventure! I’m looking forward to reading all about it!


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