He may have found the language difficult to speak, the spicy food hard to stomach and mainland provincial leaders difficult to convince, but Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen managed to find some serenity in Sichuan.
His efforts to get up before dawn to attend the 7.15am Mass at Chengdu's Catholic Cathedral was well rewarded, as he won praise from fellow worshippers in the province.
'He was very friendly and is so down-to-earth [which is] untypical of senior leaders. It is Hong Kong's blessing that there is a devout Catholic as chief executive,' a priest said.
Mr Tsang visited the cathedral with his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, before returning to Hong Kong.