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Top 5 Reasons Why You Have to Visit Chengdu

 

News and Travel Editor

When you’re visiting China, there’s a lot more to see beyond (the admittedly fascinating) Beijing and Shanghai. Chengdu is the vibrant and visually stunning capital of Sichuan, the Chinese province known for its relaxed vibe.

Here are 5 reasons why Chengdu should be bumped to the top of your list when you’re travelling in China.

1. Food

One of the first things to try in Chengdu is the famous fiery Sichuan food. Be sure to try the local classic dish, Chengdu Hotpot, and sample the street food on Wide and Narrow Alley. Sichuan peppercorn, or huajiao, is a Chinese peppercorn with a spicy flavour so powerful it will make your mouth go numb! Cool down after all that heat with a spot of Kung Fu tea, another local tradition.

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2. Pandas

An irresistible reason to visit Chengdu is to get close and cuddly with Pandas at Chengdu Panda Research Base. The base is the only research centre that focuses entirely on the critically endangered Giant Panda. Get there around 8:30am if you want to catch feeding time before the Pandas spend the day indulging in their favourite activity – sleeping! Giant Panda in China literally translates to ‘big-bear-cat’, and a visit to the base contributes to the conservation of these adorable bears. If you have a couple of days, you could make the trip to Wolong National Nature Reserve to observe the Pandas in the Qionglai Mountains.

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3. Natural Beauty

As well the bustling city, the area surrounding Chengdu is home to stunning natural beauty. A must-see is Qingcheng Mountain, one of the most important centres of Taoism in China. Emeishan (Mount Emei) is the tallest of the four sacred Buddhist mountains, and you can choose to stay over on the mountain and watch the sunrise as part of your hike!

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Photo by Mikael Haggstrom via Wiki Commons

4. Traditional architecture

Another reason to make time to explore Chengdu is to explore the traditional architecture. The stunning Wenshu Temple is the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu, dating from the Tang dynasty. Luodai Ancient Town dates all the way back to 220-280AD. The most breathtaking architecture comes from the four guildhalls, built during the Qing Dynasty. If you can, visit on 26th – 27th July to take part in the Water Dragon Festival, where locals celebrate by splashing water all over each other in the streets.

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Photo via China Discovery

5. Culture

Make time to catch an opera. Sichuan Opera originated around 400 years ago, and incorporates circus elements, illusionists, and the unbelievable art of face changing! For a less explosive dose of culture, you can also explore Jinsha Museum, or marvel up at the Giant Buddha of Leshan.13240678_971322872975278_6858857117462572707_n

To explore Chengdu for yourself, head here:

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The Etiquette of Eating in China

News and Travel Editor

In this week’s upload, Coco is reunited with blogger Hyper Trypsy (also known as Shiv) for a final collaboration. This time, it’s all about the etiquette of eating and how to throw the perfect Chinese dinner party.

Feeling hungry? Let’s get started.

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….And usually with their back to a wall. The next highest ranking person, such as an important guest, sits to the right of the host. At this dinner party, Shiv is the host and Coco is his esteemed guest. Okay, so we’re seated…now what?

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Once everyone is settled, it’s time to let the waiter know you’re ready for the menu. Hold up your hand and say Fu Wu Yuan, which means simply ‘waiter’. If you want, you can add ‘caidan’, which means ‘menu’. The waiter will bring you over a menu and it’s time to order.

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It’s important to remember that the host orders for everyone to share. Menus in Chinese restaurants come complete with pictures, so it’s easy to understand what’s on offer even if your Chinese isn’t up to scratch. A good Chinese meal has to be balanced. The dishes should offer a variety of ingredients, cooking methods, flavors, colours and textures.

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Another big responsibility you’ll have as host is leading the first toast. The toast in China is Gan bei, meaning “drain the glass.” Usually, this toast will be made with Baijiu (a strong spirit often made from rice) or  beer. Often, the ‘honoured guest’ is expected to make a toast too, either straight after the host of at the end of the meal.

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Don’t panic when you see multiple pairs of chopsticks set out for you. Use the pale coloured pair to take food from the communal dishes onto your plate. Use the dark pair to eat with. Easy!

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For Westerners, this may take some getting used to, but in China you NEVER split the bill. One person pays for the whole thing each time. Usually, the person who invited you is most likely to pay. Thanks for that, Coco!

Do you have any top tips for eating out at a Chinese restaurant? Were you surprised by any of mine? Let me know in the comments below!

PS, Thanks to our friends at China Bloggers for adding us to their website. Check it out for more from China Icons and other great bloggers exploring all things China.