As the capital city
of Sichuan, Chengdu is a city with
many faces. On the one hand this is
an incredibly modern and vibrant place.
Beijing has a relatively relaxed attitude
towards this city and as such, Chengdu
has blossomed in terms of affluence
and investment. The traditional industries
of gold, silver, silk and laquerware
have helped to make this city one
of the most important centers of commerce
in the country. Today, skyscrapers
dominate the skyline and Japanese
cars and western goods are hugely
popular and widely available.
This modernization has
no doubt been helped by the important
role that Chengdu plays in terms of
education and culture in China. Once
one of the most important printing
centers in the country, Chengdu has
a long history as a destination for
learned poets and artists to gather
and seek inspiration. The great poet
Du Fu, made his home here and today
there are 14 colleges and an impressive
university situated in the city.
Nestled amongst this affluence
and development is another side to
Chengdu. Traditional wooden Chinese
architecture that once dominated this
city can still be found in the outskirts
although it is fast disappearing.
What does still exist here however
in abundance, is a great street life.
Markets and street hawkers fill the
streets dealing in everything you
could possibly imagine, from snakes
and snails to fortunes and foot scrubs.
Many travelers here
are simply killing time or passing
through en route to Tibet. This is
however, a very pleasant city to do
just this: feast on some great food
and soak up some of the mellow atmosphere
in one of the thousands of tea houses
dotted about the city.