Joel and I recently spent three weeks traveling around China. One of our favorite spots on the trip was Chengdu; a mid-sized Chinese city that’s much more laidback than its coastal counterparts, such as Beijing and Shanghai. The delicious food and kind people made for an incredible three days.
Started the day off with one these guys. Love the packaging. First meal before checking into our hostel: chili wontons! Statues outside of Jinli Pedestrian Street. Selfie-stick ready! Street vendor details. Sugar art street vendor. This guy draws animals with syrup to make striking lollipop designs. Walking into Jinli. Notice the Starbucks–even the ancient streets of central China are subject to the effects of globalization. The famous Sichuan pepper (often paired with mouth-numbing peppercorns). Spicy tofu street snack. Yum! Pig snouts. Not so yum. Peep the Sichuan opera masks in the back–these designs are featured all over Chengdu, from shrimp cracker bags to electric scooters. Iconic Jinli lanterns in the main courtyard. Jinli weaves through a small pond and lots of greenery. Glutinous pineapple rice, what dreams are made of. The star culinary experience of the Sichuan province: hot pot! We walked by this small square when leaving our hostel each morning. Lots of locals dancing, eating, and tai chi-ing. Street vendor we stopped at for breakfast one morning. Joel bought a bag of mini baozi dumplings, and I snacked on the molasses bread shown here. Cost us less than $2 for both and it was all delicious! Chengdu’s finest attraction: the Panda Research Base. This place has about 50 pandas living here (including babies!). Welcome sculpture. We caught some other wildlife sneaking around the base as well. The base has both indoor and outdoor areas for the pandas to hang out in, depending on the weather conditions. The grounds were enormous, and one of the walking paths is completely covered in the bamboo that’s harvested for the pandas to eat. (°∀°)ʕ·ᴥ·ʔʕ·ᴥ·ʔ Appropriate snack choice of Sichuan pepper chips. Next up on the itinerary was Kuanzhai Ancient Street, a collection of alleys known as Wide Alley, Narrow Alley, and Well Alley. This area dates back in the 1600s. Locals hanging out along the street. Sake and tea sets sold by one of the shops. Roast birdie. Kuanzhai has a lot of tea houses with Sichuan opera performances. More snacks! Mmmm gutter oil. (Kidding, I hope) Pounding away at some mochi. Smokey skewers. Kuanzhai has some beautiful architecture, just like Jinli. Dandan noodles for dinner! Wenshu Monastery. This had to be one of the least touristy sites we visited in Asia. It’s completely free and filled with locals paying their respects, or just hanging out with each other. Made a new friend! There’s an inexpensive vegetarian buffet in the center of the monastery where we chose to eat lunch. The place was packed, and we ended up sharing a table with some old ladies and a monk. Aforementioned monk. Wenshu Teahouse, one of the more popular teahouses in Chengdu. People would walk circles around the central tower and try to balance coins on the ledges. You can light candles here as well. Flowers left as an offering. Success! One of the workers (monks?) goes around collecting the coins after a while. Praying at the temple. I think there might be more Ofo bikes in China than there are people. Spotted this dude selling corn, sweet potatoes, and chestnuts on the walk home. Ordered a couple of lǜchá (green teas) at Yuelai Tea House. Rowdy place with lots of friends playing games and grandmas gossiping in the corner. I loved it. Aesthetically pleasing egg display. Our last dinner in Chengdu was at Chen Mapo Dofu. It was very different from the versions back in the states, and a perfect way to end our trip.