What a weekend! My first trip to Chengdu 成都 exceeded all my expectations and I finally got to meet up with my friend Alex or ”Pandaboy” as we call him, in the Panda capital of China.
I arrived in the afternoon with my first domestic flight within China, Tianjin airport is about the size of Kastrup, but really easy to navigate. Alex met up with me in the city centre; it was great seeing him again and this time in his hometown. Chengdu is a big city, smaller than Tianjin, but there is plenty of people to go around. It is located quite far down south, to the centre of China. I was tired from the flight, so we just decided to walk around for a while and spent some time in the biggest shopping area in Chengdu. You can tell that Chengdu is all about pandas when you see a giant panda climbing up a department store wall and people walk around with panda hats. We then headed for the Grand Plaza hotel, which was the hotel were Ditte and Stig were staying. Ditte and Stig had already been in Chengdu for a few days, visiting some Universities and doing some sightseeing. The hotel was amazing, and the toilets, wow! It doesn’t take much to impress me when it comes to toilets in China, it’s enough if it doesn’t smell and that there is toilet paper. These ones smelled like roses and there was plenty of toilet paper to go around. We decided to first have some drinks at the Skybar, the bar was located on the top floor and had a great view over the city. After that we went to a restaurant to have some traditional Hotpot, the Sichuan province is famous for its spicy food and pretty much everything has some amount of chilli in it. If you don’t like spicy, you can of course order food that is “not spicy” but trust me; you’ll still feel some heat. I shared a room at a hostel with three Chinese girls from Guangdong province, they were really sweet and easy to live with. At the hostel I met a group of Swedish guys that had been travelling by bike for the past few months, all the way from Sweden with final destination Thailand. I asked them: -Why Thailand?, they answered: -Partying. Right, seven months by bike, all just to party in Thailand. It’s all about priorities isn’t it?
The next day me, Stig and Alex took the bus to Leshan 乐山, a “smaller” city located about two hours away by bus from Chengdu, we were heading to see the famous Buddha. The thing about China is that, if you want to see some famous sights, try to do it during the week, not during the weekend, it’s always crowded. There was a lot of people there and we queued about an hour and a half to see the Buddha, but when we finally stood in front of it, it was all worth it, it was massive! It was also nice to see a little bit of the countryside, I had only been to big cities up till that point, so I was happy. The evening was spent eating sushi and drinking beer.
On my final day in Chengdu we had one last breakfast at the hotel, which has to be the most impressive hotel bre
akfast I have ever seen, my usual breakfast tend to consist of some instant oatmeal or fruit, but here, wow, I was in heaven. Ditte and Stig said their goodbyes and headed for Shanghai, while Alex and I went to see some pandas, after all, I couldn´t leave Chengdu without having seen one. They were adorable, so cute, but so sleepy. A few were a wake and laid spread out on the ground relaxing, while others were climbing the trees and rolling around. There are not many pandas left in the wild and all of them live in the Sichuan province. I was happy to see that they had plenty of space and seemed to live a good life, my previous experiences of zoo’s in China left a quite depressing mark. The pandas in Chengdu are well worth a visit , should you ever be in the neighbourhood.
We had some lunch in the city and then went to an area with old traditional houses where a lot of traditional Sichuan snacks were made, Alex bought me a few to bring back to Tianjin and show my classmates what tasty snacks looks like. Snacks like dried tofu, peanut cookies, walnut bisuits and hairy dragon buns, were some of the many delicious treats the street had to offer. I then had to say goodbye, but I know we will meet again, hopefully next year when I’m in China again. Now I’m back in Tianjin and school is quite busy, but I quite like that, keeps me awake and focused.
Ta ta for now!