22 April, 2013

Chengdu China

Our trip to Chengdu was my very first trip to China. Although we initially thought that this is quite a non adventurous and tourist location choice, and well known for their panda sanctuary, we were pleased the city was a vast, interesting city, seeped with culture and insight into the local lifestyle.  Including, group aerobics and tai chi morning, afternoon and night in local parks, antique flea markets, the ever popular visits to the various tea houses, with many locals using the additional services such as an ear wax removal treatment - armed with magnifying glasses, torches and various tools. Chinese opera entertainment including unlimited top ups of Chinese green tea. 

The highlight was of course seeing the pandas, we could have watched the playful, lazy and sleepy bears for hours. For a minimum donation of CNY 2000 (minimum donation in 2012 was CNY 1000) you can experience holding a 6 month old panda cub. The overall experience would be approximately 30 minutes, of which the cuddle itself would only last for 1 minute, before being passed onto the next tourist. Another highlight was visiting the incredible Leshan Giant Buddha, just a short trip away from the city.

For our last night in Chengdu, we went out to the bustling wide and narrow lanes of Chengdu. The reconstructed 'traditional buildings' were wonderfully lit up with low lights, hoards of people, locals and tourists, weaving in and out of each other, and amongst the wonderful fragrance of all sorts of culinary delights filling the air. We opted to eat and drink at an outdoor restaurant, and chowed down and sweated on various chilli overloaded Sitchuan province dishes...even though we asked for 'No chilli'. 

Our W T tips:
  • Flip Flop Hostel, Chengdu - Excellent stay. Clean, modern decor and very sociable atmosphere. Great central location and all private rooms are en-suite and spacious. They have a restaurant onsite serving food all day until 9.30pm. Staff spoke good English and were extremely helpful and happily supplied extra mattresses for us.  Overall, one of the best hostel's we have stayed at and at fantastic value.
  • Chinese opera - ask your accommodation for a local Chinese Opera theatre nearby. The tickets are extremely cheap and also include a cup which gets topped up with green tea throughout the performance. 
  • Leshan Giant Buddha - an awesome aspiring Buddha carved from the side of a sandstone cliff face. Climb the uneven stone stairs down to the Buddha's feet and get a view from the ground level as well as the from the top! You can also view the Buddha via the water with the boat trip option on offer.  
  • Food: Sitchuan province food commonly includes an insane amount of chilli. They eat chilli's like a vegetable. Be sure to always state no or very little chilli.  We found that despite asking this, they still gave us a lot. In which case, also order milk tea/water! 

Enjoying the sights after seeing the Leshan Giant Buddha

Chinese Opera time! 

An engrossed audience

But also a time to snooze

Antique markets

Time to exercise!

Copious amounts of jasmine tea :-)

Chengdu Panda sactuary

6 month old Panda cub sleeping in a tree

Koi Carp pond at the Chengdu Panda sanctuary


Narrow and wide lanes

Panda-mania ..one of the many 'everything Panda' shops

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