The last but certainly not least city that we would like to discuss is Chengdu. This city is the capital of the province Sichuan, in southwest China. It might be less known for us, but it is very beloved by Chinese people. Chengdu is especially known for its popular, spicy cuisine, the giant pandas and the beautiful national parks amongst which there is a number stated in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
A first impression
Chengdu is again a city in which both Chinese people and expats love to live. There is a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere and it is a very green city where there is always something to do. Many activities are organised for visitors, locals and expats. Also, the city has a vibrant nightlife. Since 2012, Chengdu has been Maastricht’s twin city and many exchanges are stimulated between the two cities on both cultural and business sides. Compared to Beijing, Chengdu has retained more of its historical city, and it is less touristic. Although it can be very cloudy, the city has agreeable temperatures that rarely reaches the freezing point in the winter.
Chengdu is the perfect starting point to travel. Whereas in the east of China you will find a lot of urban areas, around Chengdu the landscape is extremely beautiful. We highly recommend you to visit Emei Shan, which is a fairytale-like mountain rage; Leshan, which has the world’s largest Buddha statue; Dujiangyan, a picturesque place that with its ethical strongly minority reminds visitors of Tibet. These places are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Besides these places Chengdu is also located nearby the well-known Three Gorges Dam. Through visiting the nearby city of Chongqing, you can take an incredible trip along the Yangtze river and visit this sight.
Language and population
Chengdu has more than 14 million inhabitants. Chengdu’s dialect belongs to the ‘language family’ of Sichuanese Mandarin. The language is comparable with Standard Mandarin, but sometimes its formulation and grammar are different. Nowadays, more and more young people speak English which is a lot easier.
When talking about Chengdu in China, or about the whole province of Sichuan, people often think about Sichuanese cuisine. It is one of the most popular and spicy cuisine of China. Many Sichuanese dishes are flaming red because of the hot peppers. In particular the spice, Sichuan pepper, is often used. The taste of this pepper is called ‘málà’. You can find it in all types of dishes, such as the well-known Sichuanese hotpot. This is a pan with a spicy bouillon wherein you cook various kinds of meat, vegetables or noodles and dip this afterwards in (spicy) sauce. So if you think that Dutch food is bland and you want to try something more spicy, then you should definitely try Sichuanese cuisine!
What is also mentioned a lot about Chengdu are giant pandas! Yes, most of these huge, cute pandas are originally from the province of Sichuan. In Chengdu there is a big panda reservation. We definitely recommend you to vist the reservation and to observe these special animals up close. It is better if you go in the morning, because then the pandas are most active. There is a good chance than you will find them sleeping in the afternoon between the bamboo. Another tip: in the autumn there might be a mosquito plague, so make sure you bring an anti-mosquito spray with you.
Do not forget to visit this city during your Chinese adventure! Explore its beautiful landscapes and try its delicious hotpot!
Written by Hoda Maksoud, Intern at China Plus