I admit, I am fickle.  I fall in love too easily.

My last amour and still somewhat smouldering, is India. To be exact, Mumbai and New Delhi with a temporary staycation in Darjeeling.

But now  my latest crush is China.

Lobby of the Crown Hotel, Panda, Chengdu
Lobby of the Crown Hotel with Panda Display

For a city to grab my attention, I have to have certain ingredients. For starters warmish, snowless four season weather, much culture, sensational hotels, amble supply of fine restaurants, history, green parks and millions of locals bustling on the streets.

I found all this in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in the southwest of China.  This area dates back to the 4th century.

But what draws the people to Chengdu, are the fluffy, seemingly friendly pandas. They are adorable, cuddly, black and white and non-chalant.

panda Chengdu

WHERE TO GO

THE PEOPLE’S PARK  located in the city needs a few hours. It’s here that the locals dance and sing, do their exercises, play mahjong and, of course, there’s a tea house.

GIANT PANDA BREEDING RESEARCH BASE, is the world’s premier, non profit research and breeding faculty. These are the rare, cuddly, black and white animals have only 2000 in the world.

panda, Chengdu, China
panda, Chengdu, China

Pandas aren’t waiting for you. You have to walk a lot, look up to tree tops and in the bottom greenery. Fortunately, they seem to be accustomed to humans so playing in trees, eating their bamboo, without being annoyed, are natural to them. And only you know that they are enclosed since the area in which they lived is huge with a single pathway for the crowds to see them.  Their diet includes, not only bamboo, but carrots, apples, panda bread.  And if you’re one of the lucky visitors you may see a new baby panda, kept in another area.

panda, Chengdu, China
panda, Chengdu, China
panda park, Chengdu
panda, Chengdu

THINGS GO DO

Performances at the Shu Feng Ya Yum Sichuan Opera, shouldn’t be missed. The evening I was there, there were several segments and only one was an operatic scene.  

The exception art of magic is truly amazing. Hogus pokus… The segment on mask change with just a flick of their fan and suddenly, a different painted face appears. I’m sure that there is not only magic involved but the some new technology probably gives help while the gizmo is up one of their wide sleeves. 

There was the wonderful controller of the glorious marionette ballerina as she dropped her hankerchief and then retrieved it or when she plucked a flower and then the agility of the puppeteer somehow pined it to her outfit.  Other segments prove exciting as we sat chewing pumpkin seeds and drinking tea,  (So civilized. Every two seats have a small table.)

I didn’t venture to the top of Mount Qingchen knowing I’d never get there but I did climb half way over a long suspended bridge where there’s a splendid tea house which overlooking an area of green trees.

The agility and ability of the Chinese is awesome.  While having my tea, I notice a masseur given by a tiny woman. So I thought, another experience and hired her.  Her strength didn’t match her size.  With each pinch, pounding hammering and slapping, this woman gave out-air, fully-dressed massages,  a new definition.

My latest discovery for my old age, is learning to basket weave.  In the village of Daoming Zhuyi , the homeland of bamboo weaving, we all created most unusual looking baskets. Great fun.  And the building where it takes place is most contemporary.

BASKET WITH BAMBOO WEAVE CLASS, Chengdu
BASKET WITH BAMBOO WEAVE CLASS
BASKET WITH BAMBOO WEAVE CLASS, Chengdu

A MUST SEE

Dating back to 629AD, Anren is considered China’s most important culture town where you can see 40 old mansions and 30 museums.

A LASTING AND EDUCATIONAL MEMORY

For me, if I had to decide the highlight of the trip, it would be the half day of Sichuan cuisine at Chuancai Museum , Sichuan Cuisine Cooking Class.   It was a great experience that I probably will never try at home.  There are so many spices and other ingredients.  But the outcome for the three course meal was exceptional and delicious. I wish I could remember all I learnt.

Chuancai Musemu, Chengdu
Chuancai Musemu
Sichuan Cuisinine Cooking Class
Sichuan Cuisinine Cooking Class, Chengdu
Sichuan Cuisinine Cooking Class
Sichuan Cuisinine Cooking Class, Chengdu
Sichuan Cuisinine Cooking Class

HOTELS

The Grand Hyatt Hotel Chengdu, where I stayed, was terrific. Not only was it my type of contemporary decor but also the mid central location made it easy to get a handle on this somewhat vast city, population 7.8 million people.

Lobby, Grand Hyatt Hotel Chengdu
Lobby, Grand Hyatt Hotel Chengdu

Although the lobby is on the 15th floor with an expansive and elegant lobby with a concierge on the entrance level, it was nice to have English speakers who understood the needs of each client. But, that said, there wasn’t any problem since almost everyone here has an electronic translator device.

The rooms were sensational, all mirrored, although at first somewhat confusing.  At one point, being quite exhausted,  I wondered who was  that other person in the room. She did look familiar.  It was me, and then I fell asleep.

So all that said. I had to leave my heart in Chengdu, China, a most exciting city with more looming building cranes for many upcoming new skyscrapers.

Serious Eaters
Very Very Hot