My name is Liyen — a Dutch foodie with Asian roots, and just like the peeps of OnlyGoodThings I love to eat, explore, photograph and especially to write. So when I was offered the opportunity for a guest post, I didn’t think twice for the answer “yes”. This post will feature Chengdu — the spiciest and cutest city of China.
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan’s province as well as one of the largest cities situated in Southwest China, and if you ever burned your throat in China, then you probably had a delicious Sichuan dish. At the other end of hot and spicy is soft and cuteness, and this is represented by Chengdu’s Giant Panda Base. When I planned to visit Chengdu, a lot of people told me that it’s a more relaxed city compared to Beijing or Shanghai, and this was salient through the city’s carefree atmosphere and relative more laid-back citizens.
On the road in Chengdu
Compared to Beijing, I was surprised that Chengdu was much smaller and that the distances were easier to cover by foot. The streets are less crowded as well, but unfortunately the air-quality was not as great as I hoped it to be. A local explained that most of the people who buy a car in Chengdu, do not buy the newest or efficient ones, but just one that is mamahuhu — In Chinese for good enough. As a result, the cars emit more harmful gases and could be the partial culprit of Chengdu’s air-quality.
Traveling to Chengdu is convenient for internationals as well as locals, it has an international airport which is one of the 30 most busiest airports worldwide. And its railway station belongs to one of China’s largest ones, I took a domestic flight from Tangshan as it was less time-consuming and arrived at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport. To reach the city centre one can take a taxi or a shuttle bus, the latter is much cheaper and worth the effort. Simply buy a ticket at the counter by mentioning your destination, and you are ready to rumble.
The best way to travel within Chengdu is by metro, but few destinations like the Panda Breeding Base can only be reached by bus. One of Chengdu’s charms is the option to explore the city centre entirely by foot, and from experience, I would recommend it. It is not only doable, but also a more authentic way of experiencing the city, and if you are the adventurous type, you could even opt for a ride on a motorcycle. I didn’t try it, but it might be an interesting option for the future.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Everyone loves the giant panda, and if not, then I do! This fluffy black and white bear is a native to China and it is one of China’s national treasures. The giant panda is not considered an endangered species anymore as there are roughly 2,000 living in the wild. They can be found in the mountain areas around Shaanxi and Gansu, but the majority resides in Sichuan. Where they are bred and studied to avoid extinction, as well as for their return to nature.
Near Chengdu you will find a lot of panda breeding centres, and the closest one is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. I decided to go early in the morning, because I heard they would be fed at a fixed time in the morning. Considering that pandas spend most of their time eating and sleeping, I presumed they would be the most active during feeding time, right? Sadly, when I arrived the caretaker explained that such fixed times did not exist, but fortunately this Giant Panda you see underneath was quite lively and active.
The breeding centre is enough to fill one morning of cuteness, and I advise those who visit the centre to opt for a stroll and not the touring bus for reaching the other end of the park. The distance is easy, and allows you to enjoy the centre a bit more. The highlights are the different nursery houses where you can see the little baby pandas ranging from a few days old till a few weeks old. They are so small and so cute.
Aside from the nursery houses, there are panda houses featuring giant pandas from all ages and sizes. Please pause for a minute, and imagine how such a tiny baby which fits in the palm of your hands, can transform into such a giant. And even when they are giants, they are just as lazy and cute as their former baby selves.
O, and for those interested in its roots, at the entrance of the centre is a giant panda museum with information regarding the history of giant pandas and the kind of research the centre performs — definitely worth visiting.
After visiting the Giant Pandas, I went to the largest city square of Sichuan — the Tianfu Square. It is easy to reach since two metro lines intersect here, and since the shops and restaurants are situated on the top and ground floors of the square, it enables the square to be a meeting-point for citizens to relax, shop, and eat. In the evening it is possible to enjoy a free musical fountain show — these fountain shows are somehow pretty popular across Chinese cities.
Stay tuned for part (2/2)
And feel free to follow my (food) adventures on https://liyenfoodmoments.wordpress.com/