Now, I don’t know about you, but when we first heard of this City, we thought it would be small, maybe in the middle of nowhere, perhaps a bit rural; we didn’t even think there would be cash point machines so we made sure we had enough currency in our wallets just in case we ran out.
We couldn’t have been more wrong!
As mentioned, Chengdu is in the Sichuan Province and Sichuan food is known for being spicy yet flavoursome with Sichuan pepper and chillies used in almost every dish. Out of all the provinces, this was the one Sy was looking forward to because he loves spicy food and yes, one dish made his face numb so he was a happy man! Most of the food was rather tasty and we enjoyed a lovely stew of some sort at our hotel, although, I have to confess that we were unsure what the meat actually was; we think it may have been horse because it was lean and rather yummy but also next to it was a sign showing “marinated assmeat”!
Jin Li Street & Kuan Zai Alley
If you are a fan of the Hollywood movie “Kung Fu Panda 2”, you should definitely check out the next two historic areas as they were both an inspiration for the film, you won’t be able to watch the movie again without being reminded of your time here!
Jin Li Street is a place to observe local culture and soak up a bit of history. It has traditional wooden tea houses but doubles as a market where you can buy various handicrafts and food. The buildings were lovely and ornate, red lanterns adorned the outside for that quintessential Chinese look.
We enjoyed mooching around but decided to find a small bar where we could sit, have a drink and soak up the atmosphere whilst people-watching. I’m not sure who was watching who though – people didn’t just stare at us, they stopped in their tracks to look at the aliens sipping beer and cocktails.
Kuan Zai Ally actually consists of three parallel alleys from the Qing dynasty which are commonly known as “Wide and Narrow Alley”. Ancient-look style buildings, beautiful handicrafts and traditional Sichuan snacks make this a very attractive part of the city to visit. Although the buildings look authentic, 85% have actually been built to look as they would in their prime, it’s a classic example of new imitating the old.
Face Changing performance
If you are in Chengdu, it’s worth visiting the infamous “Face Changing Show” which, in reality, a small section of Sichuan opera, an important part of Chengdu culture and a mix of the old and new.
The show lasts for 90 minutes and I didn’t know what to expect so to begin with, it felt rather random and in truth, not all of it held my attention. It isn’t a traditional opera but an “entertainment” variety show with performances incorporating Chinese opera, puppetry, quirky clown acts, even fire spitting! The dance sequences were just so beautiful with romantic floaty costumes, amazing lazer effects and it even rained on the stage!
Pandas – No.1 tick off on my bucket list
I adore pandas. It’s as simple as that. Top of my bucket list had always been to cuddle a panda and there I was, on a special birthday about to achieve my lifetime ambition!
Visiting the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base was the absolute highlight of our trip to China, in fact, it was the reason why I wanted to be here for my special birthday! This is the world’s largest Panda breeding and research base where scientists study and breed both giant pandas and red panda’s which are their lesser-known raccoon-like red cousins.
For the panda interaction, we had to make a “donation” of 2,000 Yuan (about £200/$323 USD) which also included a DVD, t-shirt, sturdy bag, book, “donation” certificate and a framed photo. Unfortunately, this base stopped offering the option to hug a panda back in 2014 so I am glad I was able to do this whilst I could!
Are you considering a trip to China and love pandas? Will you add Chengdu to your list? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts.