Desires for Sichuan


By: Daniel Otero



What can I say?  Chengdu, as well as the province of Sichuan entirely conquered my heart.


If not only for the cute pandas, ancient history, fabulous tea houses and home of the greatest spicy food in the world.  Chengdu as well as Sichuan can showcase an attitude only experienced through a laid-back culture.


But why travel to and fro into Chengdu?  The answer is simple, hospitality.


As a person born and raised in New York City, I did experience what a beautiful–but often rude city can do to any person.


Therefore, coming from Nanjing’s historical-gorgeous delight and what can feel sometimes a little snobbish with the east coast versus west Chinese rivalry…  I found Chengdu welcoming and easy to talk to the locals.  I soon fell in love with the place…

Then I thought, what about travel?  This was my true test.  And on the day I had to fly from Chengdu to Hong Kong, I actually felt it stressed free and enjoyable.  To be quite honest, not painful at all!  It was even fun compared to other airlines; which others can make things painfully worrisome.  This airline was my joy!


When we landed in HK, I was able to speak to Captain Jackie, who after a two-hour flight was friendly enough to come and greet me.  I was even more in shock when he said, “Yes!” to a quick interview, as the airplane was emptying out!


I guess my friendly, fat, middle-aged demeanor didn’t pose a threat when I gave Capt. Jackie one of my grand-pruning smiles.


It was easy to speak to this young Captain.


He mentioned on his behalf, “I love Chengdu.  It’s close to my hometown.  This makes the job worth my while!  Sichuan culture can be classy, ancient…” he spoke passionately about his love for the job and place birth.


It was a local pride I couldn’t describe or possibly understand.  Since, I have a love-hate relationship with New York.


He concluded with a, “What I do makes me feel complete!”

Then, 15 minutes later, as the interview and questions were coming to an end, I requested a photo of the entire crew.  Sadly and in a dramatic twist of events [because of shyness], out of seven members of the crew which I was able to count–five ran away!  Leaving me only with Captain Jackie and a stewardess in her lovely purplish-pink uniform.


My desire through this piece and pictures was to thank them for a job well done and making me feel ‘at home’.  And for patiently dealing with me through smiles, after a two-hour flight.


One thing always worried me towards the end, I hope they didn’t take personally that I didn’t eat the food during the flight.  It’s not because I don’t love Sichuan or Chinese food for that matter, it’s just too spicy for my stomach and I didn’t want to risk upsetting my tummy throughout the flight!


Other than that, I hope to meet this crew again ‘down the road’ and hopefully, I can have another pleasant flight with them to and from Chengdu.

About the author

Daniel Otero

A New Yorker who has been living in China for the past 10 years. He's a freelance writer/journalist and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

A former member of the military with extensive travel to 50 countries and has lived in six.

Lover of life, good food, travel, writing and dealing with social issues.