What is summer without a holiday! It is summer time in China and this called for some fun in the sun. I took the opportunity to visit the Land of Pandas which promised not only the adorable giants but also majestic scenery and rich history. Chengdu, famed for its laid-back culture, is known as the “Heavenly State” Tian Fu Zhi Guo. The Sichuan province is gaining popularity as a tourism center as well as a business hub. Of course I had to see for myself this sprawling metropolis. Thanks to my favourite airline, off I went to Pandaland.
Summer Holidays in Pandaland, Chengdu with AirAsiaX
Airasia has always been my hero airline for bringing me around the world. This time, I was transported to Chengdu by AirasiaX which provides flights that take more than 4 hours. AirAsiaX flies from KLIA2 to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport 7 times a week with their fleet of Airbus A330. My flight was special because I was seated in the Quiet Zone.
|AirAsiaX Quiet Zone|
|AirAsiaX : Hospitality with a smile by AirAsiaX attendants|
|AirAsiaX : Roasted chicken with stuffing and cranberry gravy|
When I arrived in Shuangliu International Airport, summer was evident as I felt no difference in weather from where I came from. A lot of Chinese words greeted me and helped me verify that I have reached China. I started off my first sights of Chengdu in a car cruise. Chengdu is a charming city where the traditional is assimilated with the modern. I noticed many international brands make their presence in shopping malls and shop lots along the road. The city is organized in a way that merchandize of the same types are cluttered together to ease shopping. Amid the westernization, traditional features are always sighted like the Chinese roofed Starbucks and ancient windowed McDonalds. Shopping opportunity was abundant from prestigious brands at IFS and Tai Koo Li to quaint local stalls at Kuan Xiang Zi Alley and Chun Xi Road.
|Chengdu Holiday : IFS Shopping Mall for luxe shopping|
|Chengdu Holiday : Kuan Xiang Zi Alley for mid-range to budget buys|
|Chengdu Holiday : A variety of products to choose from|
You have not been to Chengdu if you have not visited the Research Base of Giant Panda. National treasures come in the most fuzzy and adorable form here. The research base is not only a breeding facility for the endangered species but also a beautiful park for gallivanting with family and friends amongst the bamboo forest. If you are lucky, you may catch sight of the few peacocks in the park displaying their feathers as omen of good luck! This base is the pioneer in panda conservation and is a must-go when in Chengdu.
|Chengdu Holiday : Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding|
|Chengdu Holiday : Gentle giants|
|Chengdu Holiday : Giant pandas lazing in the outdoor|
Chengdu is blessed with some of the most amazing sceneries in China. One of the most distinguished ones I have seen is the Le Shan Giant Buddha. The 71-meter high Buddha in sitting position is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage site. The giant Buddha took ancient people more than 90 years to carve and it begun in the year 713 in the Tang Dynasty. Anyone there will be awed with dropped jaws. The statue of Maitreya has symmetrical posture and looks which have been elegantly captured in its solemn stillness. Those who are a little more adventurous can embark on a hike to Mount Emei. It is towering, breathtaking, old and mysterious. Its main peak, the Golden Summit is 3079.3m above sea level and seemingly sky scrapping. A golden temple occupies the peak that is ushered with verdant trees along the trail.
|Chengdu Holiday : Lei Shan Giant Buddha|
|Chengdu Holiday : Primates while hiking up Mount Emei|
|Chengdu Holiday : View from the peak of Mount Emei|
|Chengdu Holiday : Golden Temple at Mount Emei|
Chengdu will also satisfy those with a penchant for Chinese history. Legendary icons like Liu Bei, Zhu Ge Liang and Guo Jun Wang are immortalized in the Wuhou Memorial. The Tale of 3 Kingdoms revolves around this location. The memorial accommodates 2 magnificent treasures- Zhu Ge Liangs inscriptions and ancient tablets by Zhao Fan that were indoctrinated by Mao Ze Dong. I also had the opportunity to visit an old ethnic village about 2 hours drive away from the city. The Taoping Qiang Village gave me a cryptic feeling of the ancient civilisation. The structure of the homes survived earthquakes and unique drainage systems that lasted 56 generations. The technique of building those ancient buildings has already extinct. I stepped into real living homes of the villagers that engages mazes and trap doors to confuse the enemy in the past. I also grabbed some local trinkets of the tribal pattern to enchant my friends at home. The experience was definitely eye-opening.
|Chengdu Holiday : Literature by Zhu Ge Liang|
|Chengdu Holiday : Tablets by Zhao Fan|
|Chengdu Holiday : The road frequented by Zhu Ge Liang|
|Chengdu Holiday : Taoping Qiang Village|
|Chengdu Holiday : Interesting Trinkets|
|Chengdu Holiday : A scenic view at Taoping Qiang Village|
|Chengdu Holiday : A 98-years old local|
Food in Sichuan is one of its kind. Famed for spicy food, I had my fair chance to tease my tongue. The kick of authentic Sichuan food is contributed by the Sichuan pepper. The pepper, still attached to the stem is added not only for the spiciness but also the numbing sensation. Of course I had to try the Ma Po taufu which originates from Sichuan. The Sichuan hotpot is a must when in Chengdu. The favourite meal comes in herbal or spicy soup with lots of meat and veggies to be cooked in the soup. Dinner over the steamy pot certainly compliments a merry environment with family and friends. In Pandaland, fresh fruit stalls selling local fruits like peaches, lychees and fresh figs were really tantalizing as it is a rare sight back in Malaysia. Chinese pastry shops also caught my attention. I caught whiffs of the aromatic biscuits and could not resist from getting a few home.
|Chengdu Holiday : Authentic Sichuan cuisine is spicy|
|Chengdu Holiday : Ma Po Taufu|
|Chengdu Holiday : Sichuan Hot Pot|
|Chengdu Holiday : Fresh fruits aplenty at roadside|
All good things have to come to an end. My summer trip left me mesmerized and ready to take on the daily challenge when I am home. It was a very insightful visit with cultures experienced and scenery savoured. I left Chengdu with a heavy heart. However, my Quiet Zone was waiting ahead. An early snack and peaceful slumber all the way back to my home sweet home safely- a great way to wrap up my wonderful summer holiday. :)
Chengdu, China is definitey an interesting and eye-opening place to visit !
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