Chengdu, travelling China Part 3

China’s historical and cultural city, Chengdu offers teahouses galore, shrines celebrating folk heroes and the opportunity to get close to cute pandas.

For a more in depth guide, click here.

Day 1

Arriving at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport on a cheap flight, and jumping into a taxi to our hotel, we could see how big these Chinese cities are becoming.

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The drive in takes about 30 minutes and we arrived at the Dorsett Grand Hotel, where we were staying.

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The hotel was a fantastic base to set up camp for the time we had in the city. Even the mid-range hotels in China seem to have very high standards.

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A great start to our stay in Chengdu was to head to the Anshun Bridge that crosses the Jin River. Catching the metro to Dongmen Bridge Station via Tianfu Square was very similar to Xi’an.

A short walk down the Fuhe River, passing bars and restaurants and you’ll end up at this beautiful bridge. The original bridge was constructed in 1746 by Lingan Hongdui but in 1947, a flood ravaged the city and the bridge was destroyed.

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The bridge you see now was built in 2003 as a replacement for the original ruined one. Marco Polo, in the 13th century, mentioned several bridges in China on his travels and the Anshun Bridge was one of them. It now houses a large restaurant. Stopping off at Chunxi Road Station to grab a bit to eat, we then headed back via the metro lines 1 and 2 to our hotel.

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Day 2

The Chengdu Giant Panda breeding research base is a must for anybody wanting to see these cute bears.

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There are over 30 pandas in the centre and you can pay to feed them. During the months August through to October, it’s a good time to see new born babies.

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After a 2-hour drive, head to Leshan where the largest, stone Giant Buddha in the world is situated. Since 1996, the Mount Emei Scenic Area has been listed as an UNESCO site. There are two options  to view this amazing Buddha. One is by boat for the overall view and the other is to climb around the area, in close proximity to the Buddha itself.

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The close-up route is notoriously busy and a climb. The boat is a great way to grasp the outer context of where the Buddha sits. Both are fantastic and if you have time, do both. A quick, 40-minute-high speed rail journey back to Chengdu and you’ll arrive at Tianfu Square in the Qingyang District.

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To the east of the square is the Chengdu Museum New Hall with the Huangcheng Mosque right next door.

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The mosque was constructed in the 16th century and was rebuilt in 1858. The fantastic architecture mixes Arabic, Ming and Qing styles and consists of a library, main pray hall and gates.

Reappearing onto the square, you see a huge statue of Chairman Mao, in front of a very impressive soviet styled government building.

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The square has huge water fountains that are exceptionally beautiful at night and lots of places to grab some dinner. Walking back to the hotel, passing the Chengdu Sports Centre was a good way to end the day.

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Day 3

After a great breakfast at the Dorsett Grand Hotel we arrived at the The Wuhou Shrine. This was a place for the emperors, but now is more of a homage for his minister, Wuhou.

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Though it was constructed to honour both him and emperor Liubei, Zhugeliang is the one who has more respect with the Chinese people.

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The story of Zhugeliang is one of the greatest folk heroes in Chinese history and is recounted in literature, specifically in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

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The amazing thing about this place is the food. Having a helping of delicious street food, set in the traditional architecture lanes is something you’ll never forget.

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To walk off the meal, walking into the centre of Chengdu is a pleasant experience. Crossing the Jinjiang River and ending up at the people’s Park was brilliant. The park, with its statues and beautiful gardens, bring a freshness among the traffic and skyscrapers.

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Diving underground to the metro line 2, we headed for Wenshuyuan Station and the Wenshu Yuan Monastery in Qingyang District.

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The temple faces south with the Hall of Three Sages of the West, Four Heavenly Kings Hall, Dharma Hall, Buddhist Texts Library and Mahavira Hall, all aligned to the central axis of the complex. Also a few national treasures are housed in this monastery.

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A finger bone relic of the Sakyamuni Buddha is enshrined in the temple and a parietal bone relic of Xuanzang is also preserved as well.

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A lot of dynasties have played a part in the history of the monastery.

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It all started with the Sui Dynasty, Five Dynasties and the Kingdoms, Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties and finally in 1983, the Republic of China authorised it as a National Key Buddhist Temple in the Han Chinese area.

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With a market outside, Catherine and I picked up some food and walked the short trip back to the hotel as it was getting dark.

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Day 4

Our last day in Chengdu was spent in Tianfu Square and then on to the airport back to England.

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Taking the airport bus no.1, you can reach the city centre in an hour. But be warned, like most cities in China the traffic can build up quite quickly and cause delays. A taxi cuts the time in half and only costs RMB 60 Yuan.

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There were no direct routes between Xi’an and London, so we needed to try and find a direct one that didn’t involve the many other places we had visited in China, preferably. Luckily, British Airways had just opened a route to fly to Chengdu and Catherine and I thought why not. It also had pandas, so we were all happy.

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Checking out J & C

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