At the airport, we had a long series of waits for our flight to Cheng Du. One cleaning woman was collecting duty-free plastic shopping bags and stowing them in a firehose compartment along with her lunch. There must have been a ready market for the bags: we saw them hanging in small private shops in Cheng Du.
We arrived late at night in Cheng Du, me somewhat apprehensive about customs since I was bringing in a book of savage anti-Deng cartoons by a Hong Kong artist about the coming takeover in 1997; but the inspector didn't spot it. We were warmly welcomed by Mr. Cai Li, Associate Director for Foreign Relations of the Szechuan Education Commission. He had worked with Tom Kennedy some years before and proved an excellent guide and friend. But our intiial viws of the country were uninspiring. The airport looked bombed out and ugly, the roads were ugly, the air was polluted. My first surprise was spotting little roadside shops, open late at night, selling food, drinks, etc., with groups in them watching television.
By daylight, Cheng Du was much more attractive. This was our comforable hotel. Plumbing by American Standard, elevators by Mitsubishi.