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Chengu, China, a city that is bursting with culture, flavor and pandas!
Chengdu, the city with minimal sunshine, lesser than London, was chosen as our holiday destination this time. Not that we are anti-sunshine, but because it was home to one of the international airport close to JiuZhaiGou. The weather was perfect throughout our trip as it was not too warm nor too cold, though we were told that the temperature dropped 7C while we were at JiuZhaiGou.

With a population of 11 million, Chengdu is a bustling city with plenty to offer. However, we were a little bummed when we only found less than 10 vegetarian restaurants in Chengdu, but were more than happy with the ones we tried. I will be posting my culinary adventure in separate posts for easier reference.

We didn't have high expectations for Chengdu when we arrived, and were worried that it would be difficult to find activities to fill our 5 full days in Chengdu. We were so wrong, and we were indeed glad that we were!

For shopping, Chun Xi Lu (春熙路) is a must visit destination. Chun Xi Lu is the main shopping street near central Chengdu and is closed to traffic. It houses numerous departmental stores, Isetan, Ito Yokado and the newly opened Chicony (affordable posh vegetarian restaurant on the 9th floor!). There are also individual shops along both sides of the street, and one may find big brands like Metersbonwe, Giordano, Uniqlo etc.

Jin Li Road (锦里路) and Wide Narrow Alley (宽窄小巷) are one of the two shopping and dining streets in Chengdu with an ancient deco. Do try the '3 big bombs', a popular street food in Chengdu - steamed glutinous rice flour that are bounced on a steel plate before landing in a pot of grounded peanuts.

One should also find time to visit the traditional Face Changing art of Sichuan Opera. We visited Shu Feng Ya Yun (蜀风雅韵). For RMB260 per pax, we got seats at the middle row but we did not find the performance to be very fascinating (when compared to the performance at Shenzhen's Window of the World and Guangzhou's Panyu Circus). However, the face changing art, now combined with clothes changing, still intrigue us.

A Sichuan Opera sketch

Face changing using a puppet

Shadow Art

Tea and snacks to enjoy during the show.


And finally, one cannot visit Sichuan without going to see the pandas. We were told to visit the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base instead of the zoo as this base is home to over 60 pandas. The internet is a traveler's best guide. We found out through blogs that it was best to visit the base in the morning when the pandas were most active. True enough, most of the pandas were up and about, eating, scratching, drinking, playing, fighting and posing! When we ventured further into the sanctuary, we spotted a panda resting on a raised platform when a woman walked toward us, shouting "Xia Lai, Kua Dia Ar" repeatedly. We were wondering if we wandered into restricted area by mistake before we realized that she was actually speaking to the panda instead. She was holding two lumps of grounded grains and nuts and was telling the panda to come down from the platform to the edge of her enclosure to get her food. The panda rolled around lazily, reluctant to move from its spot. The keeper raised her voice further and the panda obediently came down to get her food. What an up close experience with a "trained" panda!

Eating


Socializing


Sleeping


Posing


Standing up to reach an apple


Red panda who looks very much like a fox.

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posted on: Friday, November 5, 2010 @ 2:01 AM

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- Jamie & Yvonne -
Two avid vegetarians are here to share some insights to the world of vegetarianism.
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