The first night in Chengdu was a slow one. This was deliberate since the next day the plan was to go hiking. Whilst the city itself offers many places to walk to, we went to QingChengShan, about an hour outside of the city to go hiking.
This whole mountain range (all 36 peaks) was one of the most important centers of Daoism and hosts many temples. The temples were beautiful, well maintained, and it wasn’t really crowded. The options were to take a cable car up to one of the highest peaks, from which one could hike up to other peaks, or just hike all the way up the mountain. We decided to go on the hike. The hike was beautiful and the temperature was perfect, the only issue was the pollution. Chengdu is one of the fastest growing cities in China, and receives one of the highest amounts of foreign direct investment in all of China. Some people in Chengdu joke that there are more buildings being built than buildings that are already completed. This caused some serious pollution, which hampered our view on top of the mountain. Chengdu’s geographical location didn’t help either since it is located in between mountains, this means the pollution lingers. But despite the pollution, it was still a great experience.
Whilst Chengdu is famous throughout China for its Panda tourism (related to the Panda reserve about 30 minutes outside of Chengdu), we did not visit. To hold a young Panda for 1 minute and take a picture with it is roughly the equivalent of $320 USD, which on a student budget is a stretch. But there were plenty of other things to see.
At night we had amazing Sichuan food, which Chengdu, and the surrounding province is famous for. We had ‘huoguo’ or hot pot, which is a large basin of boiling broth with many spices in it, and you can order many things to put in it. This was by far the best hot pot I’ve ever had. The food was extremely fresh and of really high quality. The fish were so fresh that after they were gutted, their tails still flapped at random intervals before we added them to the broth.
Amongst other things we saw was a ‘Tibetan street’ with many Tibetan restaurants and shops, and even more impressive, was Jinli Street. This street had much of the old architecture, and had many small restaurants and cafes. Thus overall, Chengdu was definitely worth the visit. Next stop is Xi’an this weekend!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Jason Klanderman, originally from Chicago, grew up in Amsterdam. He has travelled extensively through Europe and Asia. He is an International Politics, History and Global and International Studies triple major, with a minor in Chinese at Penn State University. When not in State College, where he is currently living, you can find him traveling between Amsterdam, Singapore, and various other places, visiting family and friends. His hobbies include reading, writing, cooking and going to the gym. Read about his experiences as he tackles the middle kingdom, China, during his spring semester 2013.</span></p>