Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chengdu City Report

We flew straight into Chengdu as if our radars had been set to search for ‘pure awesomeness’. A short walk revealed a capital city that was just capital. Compared to Shanghai, the pace of Chengdu is wondrously ambling, and despite being the fourth largest city in China, it manages to comfortably hold on to its neighbourhood feel. In just a few steps a main road can turn into a beautiful leafy laneway filled with puppies and old people. There are almost just as many cars, and yet the traffic seems more courteous and less dangerous. There are almost just as many people, and yet less of them spit and less of them shove. There is almost as much pollution, and yet – well… no the air is still rubbish. But there are more dogs and less cats which equates to the people being much more friendly and much less hungry. 

In fact, the city itself seems so much more comfortable in itself. I have such a strong feeling of adolescence when I try and personify Shanghai. She wants to be good at everything and be the biggest and the most influential and the most chic, but in her confusion and eagerness to please she has forgotten to provide people with a nice place to live. Chengdu turned 30 a few years ago and doesn’t care what she looks like anymore. She doesn’t fall to the fads of consumerist China as much as her capital-city-counterparts, she dresses comfortably, and has surrounded herself with cool people and places. 

Both Shanghai and Chengdu have tried the whole ‘western influence thing’ and they both fail an almost equal number of times. For example, this is not an appropriate reproduction of a Greek bronze sculpture:

Here is a possible an indicator of why pollution is so bad in Chengdu – every single restaurant needs at least a billion lights squeezed together on a sign the size of Texas. This is non-optional. Walking this street at night is  dangerous due to high levels of radiation, and I also have my suspicions that constant exposure to the restaurant strip of Chengdu may cause epilepsy.

One really great thing about Chengdu that I am yet to find in another metropolis city, is the ability to conveniently purchase turtles on the way home from work. Too often I find myself in a mood to buy a turtle or two, and I just think ‘it’s too much hassle. You can’t get any good turtles around here.’ Chengdu really has it all.

I didn’t know cows could produce milk with collagen!!! Haha just kidding, everybody knows that all the cows in China look great because they are fed age-defying grass. The cows are also all albino, which is why your hair turns bright white when you drink their milk. But your eyebrows will stay brown.

I guess if choose Chengdu to raise your children in, you can be sure that their education isn’t that same-old same-old kind of thing. In Chengdu, each child experiences a new, previously untested version of school. Some examples include: teaching entirely via shadow puppets, starving the child to encourage ingenuity and student elections amongst infants to develop an early sense of identity and place. 

Many Chinese cities are made entirely of concrete, and it is natural to miss the trees and grass. In Chengdu, you don’t have to worry about a lack of foliage. Just a couple of pot plants on a roof and some water and sunshine, and in a few short months you will have a monster garden which engulfs your entire apartment building!!!

People sell pineapple everywhere in this city. In fact, everywhere we went in Sichuan they sold a lot of pineapple. This phenomenon does not particularly worry me because I do like pineapple. But I’m serious, this province has a shitload of pineapple.

My friends and I all agreed that if we were to choose one Chinese city to live in, out of all we have seen so far, we would pick Chengdu. It was a vibe thing, and as such, is entirely difficult to explain in words. But trust me. It was crazy lovely.

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