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Chengdu, There We Go!

“Sure, you can write about Chengdu, but remember, it started in the night”

One of the problems with working life is rarely having the same days off as your friends. On the rare occasion that you do end up having a day off together there is an urgency to plan something to make sure you make the most of the time you all have together. Since arriving in Chongqing, travel opportunities have been limited (we all know why) but with travel becoming increasingly easier, my friends and I have been searching for a chance to venture further than the city boundaries of Chongqing and start exploring China, because we’d be lying if we said that wasn’t one of the reasons that led us half-way across the world.

It started with dinner, we all met up and the topic of having a Sunday off work for a public holiday led us to discussing what we could do. Isabelle had mentioned that she’d been thinking of taking a trip to Chengdu and we all jumped on that idea. Within hours, we had booked our train tickets and we were planning what we could do with just a day in the city of Chengdu. We decided to go with a very loose plan of heading to the large bookstore which we had been told offered a selection of English books and find our way from there.

Our day started with us all meeting outside my and Steph’s house at 6.20am (when we agreed on this meeting time, Sophie said “but that’s in the night!”). Our train departed at 8 o’clock which meant we needed to be at the train station for 7am to ensure that we could get our tickets in time.

From Chongqing to Chengdu, the journey takes around an hour and a half by high-speed train. We arrived in Chengdu and a cab took us across the city to the book store’s location. When we arrived at the location for the bookstore, it was too early to enter so we made use of the extra time and looked for a place to have breakfast. We came across a chain restaurant, “Wagas”, which offered western style breakfasts like smashed avocado on toast and poached eggs. As much as I love the Chinese style breakfasts like baozi and noodles, I really do miss western breakfasts.

Once we’d eaten, the bookstore was open, so we headed into the mall and made our way to the lower level where the bookstore was situated. We were not disappointed. We quickly found the large English section and we all split up in search of our next read. When we exited the bookstore, we were laden with books. We’d all travelled light with small bags because we’d only came for a day. In hindsight we should have brought bigger bags or at least saved the bookstore for last but with bookstores in China rarely offering such a large selection of English books we weren’t expecting to come away with so much.

After the bookstore, we regrouped to decide what to do next. Across from the mall there was a temple that looked interesting, so we headed there. The temple, like all temples in China was beautiful. From the temple we picked up a couple of pay as you ride bikes and headed to the observation tower to get an ariel view of the city. The observation tower had an elevator that offered a panoramic view of the city as you went up to the observation deck at the top of the tower which was pretty cool. When we reached the top, we made our way to the outside platform. There were glass platforms overhanging the deck meaning you could step off of the main platform and look down onto the city below. Chengdu differs from Chongqing in one particular area: it’s so flat. Chongqing is situated in a mountainous area, so the city is built into the mountains creating a place that feels like it has many different levels. From the viewing platform we could see that Chengdu spread outwardly for miles with not even a rolling hill in sight.

After the observation tower, we took a Didi to an older park of the city where we could see one of the traditional markets. This place was very crowded, but we still enjoyed walking through the market and looking at all the different souvenirs and snacks the market had to offer. We found a Tibetan restaurant in this part of the city, so we decided to try Tibetan style food. They offered a range of different dishes, one thing we’d never seen before was yak, so we went with some green vegetables, yak meat and a sort of bread bun filled with beef. The food there was delicious and very different to the typical spicy Sichuan cuisine. After dinner, we cycled around the city some more, taking in the sights and enjoying our last hour in Chengdu. By that point it was time to head to the train station, so we caught a Didi and headed to the train station.

Chengdu is another exciting city to explore and it’s very easy to travel to form Chongqing. I’m looking forward to going back when I have more time. On the outskirts of the city there are many scenic parks and of course the famous Panda zoo but that will have to wait until next time, another adventure that will begin in the night.

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