Surprisingly They Know What Makes For A Good Hostel In Chengdu
We arrived at the Mix Hostel. Actually they did not have any double rooms left for us in the hostel so we stayed in the building across the street which they call the Mix Hotel. I think they actually just work out a deal with the hotel to use their rooms. It had a completely different hotel name on the front of it. Anyways, it was a very nice room, clean, quiet and with a modern private bathroom. It was 160 yuan a night, a bargain for $22 Canadian to have such a great room.
We were able to stay there but then come over to the hostel to take full advantage of everything they had to offer. It was a lively place with lots of travelers from all over the world, hence the name, the Mix. The hostel has a restaurant, coffee lounge, a large book exchange, DVD room and laundry facilities, internet, everything you could possibly want. Some places just really know how to do a great hostel.
Chengdu Is Just Like Any Other Big City In China
Chengdu is a large city with a population of over 10 million. This many people only has it ranking as the 4th largest after Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing. It has lots of traffic and a fair share of pollution. There are tons of bicycles here, each time the lights turn red at an intersection you will see dozens of bikes pile up at the front of the line. All the modern amenities like large shopping malls, McDonalds and Starbucks are available here.
On a main road in Chengdu there is one of the largest statues we have ever seen. It is of Chairman Mao with his arm in the air. We wonder how many people in China still admire him and his beliefs?
Sweltering In The Heat And Barely Able to Tolerate The Pollution
It was really hot and humid here. While walking back to our hostel at hotel at midnight we couldn’t believe how warm still. This is well beyond anything you experience on one of those warm summer nights at home on the west coast of Canada. We had a considerable amount of sweat on us just from walking across the street. We were blessed to have a hotel room with air conditioning, many local people were out on the sidewalks sitting in chairs. I guess it was cooler than inside their residences.
On top of the sweltering heat, the pollution is horrible. We were both experiencing a sore throat within the first day. Our eyes were dry and sore as well. It’s hard to believe the worst is supposedly yet to come when we arrive in Beijing.
You’ve Come To The Right Place For Spicy Sichaun Food
Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province that is famous for SPICY food! You have to be very careful when ordering, they will spice up everything. Even dishes like pizza and spaghetti are made spicey and McDonalds has Sichaun chili powder to shake onto all of their food. People’s opinion of what is mildly spicy can vary greatly. Your tongue and throat might still very well be numb after ordering a mild dish. The Sichuan Hot Pot and Kung Pao Chicken are among the most popular dishes. The Sichaun hot pot is a bubbling cauldron of extremely hot oil and water. You dip skewers of all kinds of things such a meat, vegetables and tofu. Sometimes a whole bunch of food is just dumped into it and you fish it out with chopsticks. It’s a very social meal, everyone sits around to enjoy it and make it an evening event. To our surprise the empty skewers are thrown onto the floor in many restaurants.
With our wimpiness for spicey food and the fact we don’t eat any meat other than fish we needed to search for something we could eat. If you need to get some western style food into you we found a good place called Granma’s Kitchen. We found out the same owner has four other food establishments in Chengdu. The Red Brick Restaurant and Grandma’s Deli and Grandma’s Kitchen are located right next to each other. They also have the Del Mar Mediterranean Restaurant and the Sunflower Cafe. We only ate at Grandma’s Kitchen, but we heard all restaurants have good food. You can get soups, salads and pasta dishes.
Panda Breeding Research Center Was Disappointing
One of the major attractions in Chengdu is the Giant Panda Breeding Research Center. Unfortunately it was quite disappointing, at least during the time of our visit. The climate of Chengdu is not like the natural area where the pandas live, especially not in the summer time. Their usual habitat is further north in China, high in the mountains where it would be cooler. It is too hot for them at this time of year so they kept mostly inside. There was only one big panda outside sleeping on a bamboo platform. He woke up and started to move, so we got excited to be able to see him. He did a big yawn and then climbed down from the bamboo platform. We saw him for about 30 seconds while he walked across the grass and went inside a building.
We were told to go early in the morning to the breeding center so we could see the pandas being fed. They eat enormous amounts of food, up to 20kg a day. It was really crowded and you had to wait your turn to squeeze into a skinny hallway to view them. They are behind bars munching on bamboo.There were so many people crammed in there it was really hard to see anything. There were many rooms marked nursery with closed curtains. We got to see a few younger pandas indoors, but they were far older than babies. There was an enclosure with red pandas, but they were really hot too and sprawled out on the ground trying to keep cool. We wonder how accurate their breeding research can be if so many variables are affecting the Pandas, like the heat and the pollution they are living in. In our opinion it’s not worth visiting the center unless you have never seen a panda before. Perhaps it would be better at cooler time of the year. We were told the Wolong Panda Center further up north is much better. You can see lots of pandas outside in a more natural type of an environment.
Sichaun Opera Was Well Worth The Money
The other attraction in Chendgu is the Sichaun Opera, especially for the famous face changing. We were told to go on the weekend when there is the most variety of performances. There was a young girl with amazing juggling skills. She laid on her back and juggled a table with her feet as well as a large clay urn. There was also a humorous Chinese Opera play where a wife punishes her husband when she finds out he keeps sneaking off to gamble. She makes him do stupid tricks with a lit oil lamp. There was an Opera performance with sword fighting and flame blowing. The face changing was the highlight of the evening. Dressed up Chinese dancers come out and perform while continuously changing their face masks with such extreme speed it must take years of practice. Each mask has a different colour which represents different emotions. It is considered quite an art in China that takes a great deal of effort to learn and perfect. On the side of the stage was a reader board. Whenever someone was talking it would translate into English, or should we say Chinglish. We were getting almost as much entertainment out of trying to read the sign as the performances themselves.