A Chengdu Weekend

Taking a vacation because your frequent flyer miles are about to expire is not the worse of reasons to take a vacation. In mid-October, Jun received a message that he needed to use his miles or lose a significant amount of them. After discussing the merits of where we could go given the number of miles we had, we decided to take a weekend trip to Chengdu.

Day 1

Our trip started with both us leaving from work and proceeding straight to the airport. When we got there we went through security and had dinner at Wagas before our flight departed. The flight went smoothly and we soon found ourselves in a taxi heading to the Holiday Inn in central Chengdu.

Check-in went smoothly and we went up to our room ready for bed. Our room was nice and we even had complimentary fruit and desserts. Such a small gesture was quite welcomed. It was too late to eat anything and we decided to take a quick shower and then go to bed.

Day 2

Waking up I went straight to a piece of cake and ate it. Then I took my shower. Priorities… After we were both ready for the day, we went down to have breakfast. It was a simple affair, but the cook-to-order noodles were nice.

From the hotel, we walked north towards Wenshu Temple, one of the city’s most important Buddhist temples. With the changing foliage, the grounds were a mix of gold and green. It was quite a popular place with people of all ages. There were even children painting the changing landscape. Jun and I enjoyed walking around and just being in a state of calm. As we were walking, temple volunteers handed out flower tea to the guests. The tea was a mix of at least three different flowers and had a nice sweet taste.

After walking around the temple and the surrounding streets, Jun and I rode the metro to visit Wuhouci Temple, which commemorates the Three Kingdom Period’s minister Zhuge Liang. The temple is quite simple, but the gardens are impressive and beautiful. There are red walls that separate the temple’s different areas; in combination with the bamboo shooting out from behind them, a surreal feel is created.

Next to the relative quiet of the temple, is the bustling Jinli Ancient Street. People engulfed this reconstructed area looking for souvenirs and food of all kinds. Jun and I walked around for a bit to see if there was anything we wanted to eat there, but we soon decided that it was too crowded and decided to go somewhere else.

We ended up going to Chen’s Mapo Doufu, which claims to have been open since 1862. It is the place in Chengdu to enjoy authentic mapo doufu. Jun and I enjoyed the food here. They have a way of preparing the food with a blend of familiar and new flavors and textures. Just thinking of the food ushers in happy memories.

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Having eaten a lot, Jun and I needed to go for a walk. Fortunately, Huanhuaxi Park was nearby. We leisurely strolled through the different areas of the park and ended up at Du Fu Thatched Cottage. Built to commemorate the Tang dynasty poet Du Fu, the gardens and buildings at this site serve as a glimpse into Chengdu’s past. At first, I thought I hadn’t visited this area before, but then as we walked around the park I started to remember different aspects of the site from when my friend Jessica and I visited the place in 2014.

By then it was late afternoon and Jun and I were templed out. We decided that we would go shopping around Chunxi Road. I wanted to buy the Swatch destination watch for the city. It’s quite a nice watch with a panda face and mahjong tiles on the strap. Once we did that Jun and I went to Costa for some Christmas drinks and rested until dinner.

Since we were in Chengdu, we decided to have hot pot at one of the many restaurants there. Sadly, because we ate so much at lunch, we weren’t that hungry and only ordered a little for our hot pot. It was still quite good, but extremely spicy. My stomach disagreed with what I ate for the next three days!

After dinner, we walked backed to the hotel and called it a day.

Day 3

We had an early start to the day in order to get to the Chengdu Research Base on Giant Panda Breeding. We quickly had breakfast and asked for a late check-out before getting into a cab and venturing towards the research base.

Once there we spent hours watching the pandas. They were so cute and lively in the morning. Although some were still sleeping. Many, though, were eating. We even peeped into the nursery to see a recently born panda cub. While I had visited the research base before, Jun was experiencing the place for the first time. We really enjoyed seeing the pandas actively engage with the world around them.

Soon, though, we needed to leave and get back to the hotel to check-out. Once we had finished everything at the hotel, Jun and I walked to a nearby market so he could buy rabbit meat for his cousin. Apparently, Chengdu is known for rabbit meat.

Then, we went off towards the New Century Global Center. It holds the record as the largest building in the world in terms of floor area. We went there to have lunch and to look for an article of clothing for our upcoming trip to Finland. We had a nice lunch, but we didn’t find what we were looking for.

Finally, we hailed a cab and went to the airport for our flight back to Shenzhen. Everything at the airport went smoothly and we were soon airborne and venturing back home.

The trip to Chengdu was quite lovely and a nice respite from work and Shenzhen. It was fortunate that Jun’s miles were about to expire. It gave us the perfect excuse to have a wonderful weekend.

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