Another 2 weeks in Sichuan: Chengdu revisited

There are places you know you want to go back to, and there are places you have to go back to, because you loved it and you missed too many things to see there.
Table of Contents

The previous1 two2 weeks3 there4 was just barely enough for about the half of the places we wanted to visit, so it was easy to justify revisiting a place - besides, we were still fond of the memories from Chengdu.

The flight

This time we'd flown in a Dreamliner5 - it was nice, airy and comfortable. While the electrically darkening windows are cool, they to remove your option of peaking out when the crew sets them to dark centrally. One other thing I disliked: the media center screens. No privacy filter, very bright, so a nightmare for those who'd actually want to get some sleep; but in the end, not getting any sleep helped a lot preventing the jetlag; this time, it was much less of a pain.

I had some wonderful sights outside: finally it wasn't always cloudy. We'd flown on a surprisingly northern route, but I could not see the the Ural Mountains. These ones I think were somewhere around the Altai Mountains.

View of mountains from the plane on our way to
Chengdu
View of mountains from the plane on our way to Chengdu PENTAX K-5 II s, 53.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/800 sec, ISO 400 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
View of mountains from the plane on our way to Chengdu
2
View of mountains from the plane on our way to Chengdu 2 PENTAX K-5 II s, 43.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/800 sec, ISO 400 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

The city

Chengdu is still lovely, although first it was too warm, too sweaty and way too humid after months of English winter, which is 0-6 °C for a long while. This time I counted the floors of a few buildings: 40-50 floors are the most common.

A view road with light traffic in Chengdu during the day - there is
both humidity and smog in the air
A view road with light traffic in Chengdu during the day - there is both humidity and smog in the air PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/500 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Pavement view in Chendgu with a restaurant around
lunchtime
Pavement view in Chendgu with a restaurant around lunchtime PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/15 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Unlike the nightscapes in Europe, nightscapes in China are hard. There will be no straight white and red lines of car lights in Chendgu :)

Street busy with traffic during the night in
Chendgu
Street busy with traffic during the night in Chendgu PENTAX K-5 II s, 31.0 mm, f/22.0, 6 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

In Chengdu, most of the things, especially the shopping oriented areas, are open till 22:00, so late night shopping is by default a thing. I believe there is at least one street like this in every major city in the world, but unlike the usual, there were much more local brands present here.

Late night shopping street in Chendgu during the
night
Late night shopping street in Chendgu during the night PENTAX K-5 II s, 60.0 mm, f/16.0, 1 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
For some Hungarian friends: there are constants in our world. Adldas, Rebuk, ah, the good old days.
Newbailunlp store
Newbailunlp store PENTAX K-5 II s, 53.0 mm, f/18.0, 1/50 sec, ISO 6400 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Newbunren store
Newbunren store PENTAX K-5 II s, 39.0 mm, f/18.0, 1/40 sec, ISO 6400 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
And of course, there are less developed streets, just like in every major city.
Back alley in Chengdu next to a busy 4x4
road
Back alley in Chengdu next to a busy 4x4 road PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/320 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Baihuatan Park 百花潭公园6

We've been to this park on our previous trip and we enjoyed it well enough to know, it's not crowded and there are many things to see. Indeed: this time the bonsai garden was open, and we could take a look at some magnificent miniature trees - until Nora7 spotted the Chinese landscape painters in one of the corners and decided to watch them for a while, in case she can get a glimpse of some special techniques.

If you're just arriving in Chengdu and you want some nature, cool climate and not too much of a crowd, I can highly recommend this spot. It seems many young creatives prefer the park as well.

One of the beautiful moon gates in Baihuatan Park which is the
entrance to the bonsai garden
One of the beautiful moon gates in Baihuatan Park which is the entrance to the bonsai garden PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/4.0, 1/160 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
A beautiful, tiny bonsai mountainscape in Baihuatan Park in
Chengdu
A beautiful, tiny bonsai mountainscape in Baihuatan Park in Chengdu PENTAX K-5 II s, 50.0 mm, f/1.8, 1/320 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 50mm F1.8 | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Chendgu has a great amount of friendly and creative young people, who
are happy to use the features of the city as background to their
work
Chendgu has a great amount of friendly and creative young people, who are happy to use the features of the city as background to their work PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/11.0, 1/40 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
It is quite usual to bump into photographers and their models in any
of the parks of Chendgu, but the Baihuatan Park seemed to have a
lot
It is quite usual to bump into photographers and their models in any of the parks of Chendgu, but the Baihuatan Park seemed to have a lot PENTAX K-5 II s, 50.0 mm, f/5.6, 1/80 sec, ISO 1600 | smc PENTAX-DA 50mm F1.8 | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Du Fu Thatched Cottage 杜甫草堂8

Inside a city of 14 million, there is a rather large park, hosting a cottage, that was rebuilt numerous times (with original materials, the same way it was) since ~700BC. It is said to be the former residence of Du Fu, a well known ancient poet of China.

Unfortunately we went there on a weekend, and during weekends, everything can get seriously crowded in Sichuan. Apart from that, this is a rather pleasant place and the cottage does look like a thing from those Chinese movies from the ancient times.

Even with a 10s long exposition you can't get rid of the people -
there is a sea of tourists around the Du Fu Thatched Cottage
itself
Even with a 10s long exposition you can't get rid of the people - there is a sea of tourists around the Du Fu Thatched Cottage itself PENTAX K-5 II s, 26.0 mm, f/22.0, 10 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
The "Du Fu Thatched Cottage" is a large area which includes nice
scenes and ponds
The "Du Fu Thatched Cottage" is a large area which includes nice scenes and ponds PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/40 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Another beautiful pond opposite the cottage
itself
Another beautiful pond opposite the cottage itself PENTAX K-5 II s, 23.0 mm, f/22.0, 10 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
A vast amount of flowers during spring and a peek through the zigzag
of branches
A vast amount of flowers during spring and a peek through the zigzag of branches PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/50 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Artificial or not, the waterfall is a nice extra - and, since it's
quite simple to photograph it, it's a good spot to practice
photographing water
Artificial or not, the waterfall is a nice extra - and, since it's quite simple to photograph it, it's a good spot to practice photographing water PENTAX K-5 II s, 31.0 mm, f/16.0, 1/10 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

One of the smaller buildings host options for tasting teas. Without knowing what to expect, we joined and instead of tasting the regular green tea, we went for pure jasmine flower tea and another tea, which I forgot the name of. The jasmine tea is much lighter and tastier than I expected and the tasting was unique and atmospheric in a traditional cottage.

Tea tasting in a smaller building
Tea tasting in a smaller building PENTAX K-5 II s, 18.0 mm, f/16.0, 1/13 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
The traditional way of brewing jasmine - the actual jasmine flower -
tea
The traditional way of brewing jasmine - the actual jasmine flower - tea PENTAX K-5 II s, 50.0 mm, f/5.0, 1/10 sec, ISO 160 | smc PENTAX-DA 50mm F1.8 | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
There are a few places where the differences between Japanese and
Chinese design becomes blurry or nonexistent; this corridor was one of
them
There are a few places where the differences between Japanese and Chinese design becomes blurry or nonexistent; this corridor was one of them PENTAX K-5 II s, 53.0 mm, f/4.5, 1/50 sec, ISO 400 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Pandas again

There is no Chengdu without pandas! They are still an absolute cute overload: real bears ( with all the claws, muscles, everything ) lazy enough to decide that they rather eat grass ( bamboo is a big grass after all ) instead of hunting.

Be patient with pandas - you are totally secondary compared to food.
If you are patient enough, you can exchange looks for a
moment.
Be patient with pandas - you are totally secondary compared to food. If you are patient enough, you can exchange looks for a moment. PENTAX K-5 II s, 120.0 mm, f/5.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 250 | HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Food. On your belly. A lot of it. Good.
Food. On your belly. A lot of it. Good. PENTAX K-5 II s, 135.0 mm, f/5.6, 1/60 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Soft panda, warm panda, little ball of fur...
Soft panda, warm panda, little ball of fur... PENTAX K-5 II s, 100.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 640 | smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Even though pandas look clumsy and move funny, they are surprisingly
relaxed when it comes to impossible splits and
movements
Even though pandas look clumsy and move funny, they are surprisingly relaxed when it comes to impossible splits and movements PENTAX K-5 II s, 87.5 mm, f/8.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 1600 | HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
A simple way to make it certain nobody gets your food: lay down on
it
A simple way to make it certain nobody gets your food: lay down on it PENTAX K-5 II s, 87.5 mm, f/8.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 640 | HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

And the red pandas. I didn't know, but originally they had the name of panda - the big black and white one only got it's name decades later. This time we could enter an area where you walk into their territory, so we could see them pretty close - just to realize again they act like a mixture of cats and bears, so the alternative name of firefox is fairly accurate.

Lazy red panda is lazy, and indeed, deep down they are
cats
Lazy red panda is lazy, and indeed, deep down they are cats PENTAX K-5 II s, 135.0 mm, f/6.3, 1/60 sec, ISO 200 | smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Is it safe? I don't know, lick it! - thoughs of a red panda before
laying down
Is it safe? I don't know, lick it! - thoughs of a red panda before laying down PENTAX K-5 II s, 135.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 1250 | smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Yes, it's safe - thought the red panda, and layed
down
Yes, it's safe - thought the red panda, and layed down PENTAX K-5 II s, 135.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 1000 | smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Jinli Ancient Street 锦里步行街9

Last time we simply couldn't find this place; it turned out that due to issues with maps vs. GPS there, we were looking for it surprisingly far away from the actual entrance. According to the written mentions, this street had been here for 2200 years and it's always been a shopping mall-like entity.

Unlike most places, we came here twice: our first visit was on a weekend

  • not a good idea. Therefore when we were back in the city, we gave it another go, visiting it on a rainy weekday evening: trust me, it's much better, and looks pretty much like a scene from Spirited Away.

One important things: even though Sichuan food is expected to be spicy, the snacks here are burning. Be careful :)

There is a simple trick to overcrowded streets: wait until it rains
during the evening - it gets much spacious
There is a simple trick to overcrowded streets: wait until it rains during the evening - it gets much spacious PENTAX K-5 II s, 16.0 mm, f/5.0, 1/20 sec, ISO 1000 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Jinli Street is full of modern, LED lanterns, which are beautiful for
the eye and hard to capture for the camera
sensor
Jinli Street is full of modern, LED lanterns, which are beautiful for the eye and hard to capture for the camera sensor PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/10 sec, ISO 3200 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Jinli Street isn't just an alley as we expected - at the end, it
becomes a wide, open area, with a pond and some romantic looking
bridges
Jinli Street isn't just an alley as we expected - at the end, it becomes a wide, open area, with a pond and some romantic looking bridges PENTAX K-5 II s, 26.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/15 sec, ISO 6400 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
PENTAX K-5 II s, 18.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/15 sec, ISO 6400 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
PENTAX K-5 II s, 16.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/15 sec, ISO 1600 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
PENTAX K-5 II s, 16.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/10 sec, ISO 3200 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Nora10 captured the feeling of Jinli at night much better than I did, so please check her gallery as well.

Chengdu Shu Brocade and Embroidery Museum11

The only museum we decided to check - it's much harder to find than we expected - was a museum of silk, brocade and embroidery, because according to the legends, Sichuan is the origin of silk. It's a nice museum, just the right size, with some working, extremely complicated, authentic, made of silk and bamboo machinery to create brocade.

An ancient brocade machine in the Chengdu Shu Brocade and Embroidery
Museum - and it is even more complicated than it looks in the
picture
An ancient brocade machine in the Chengdu Shu Brocade and Embroidery Museum - and it is even more complicated than it looks in the picture PENTAX K-5 II s, 16.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 12800 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

Eastern Suburb Memory 东郊记忆12

We got a trip from a friend we met in Cambridge to check out the Eastern Suburb Memory but we had no expectations. After being there I looked up a few reviews, and came across this line: "A Memory of Soviet-Style Communism and A Cosplayer Gathering Place"13. It perfectly captures the base feeling of the place, but it's much, much better live.

When you look at the style of 1960s industrial building of anything somewhat connected to the Soviet Union, you'll see not just patterns but exact same looks. This particular place used to be a cathode display factory - now it hosts art places, pubs, dance halls, a huge outdoor stage, numerous coffee houses - and it's all soaked in anime figures and cosplay clues.

If you're from Hungary, and you're a bit of a nerd, this will feel home.

Early night lights, old airplane, reinvented cathode light factory,
and a little red on the picture - a nice little summary for our evening
at the Eastern Suburb Memory
Early night lights, old airplane, reinvented cathode light factory, and a little red on the picture - a nice little summary for our evening at the Eastern Suburb Memory PENTAX K-5 II s, 43.0 mm, f/16.0, 6 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
The fact so few people were around, yet every light was on made the
place unreal, something out of a cyberpunk
novel
The fact so few people were around, yet every light was on made the place unreal, something out of a cyberpunk novel PENTAX K-5 II s, 16.0 mm, f/16.0, 20 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
A leftover tower from a different era, now a nice jewel in the night,
lighted with lots of LEDs
A leftover tower from a different era, now a nice jewel in the night, lighted with lots of LEDs PENTAX K-5 II s, 28.0 mm, f/16.0, 4 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Just some windows and reflections at night in the
Memory
Just some windows and reflections at night in the Memory PENTAX K-5 II s, 28.0 mm, f/13.0, 8 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
I was a little sad and disappointed, because the area was quite empty given we visited it during a Tuesday it shouldn't be that much of a
surprise, but I'd love to see it once when all the places are open
I was a little sad and disappointed, because the area was quite empty given we visited it during a Tuesday it shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but I'd love to see it once when all the places are open PENTAX K-5 II s, 16.0 mm, f/16.0, 8 sec, ISO 160 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Another view of the fountain at the Easter Suburb Memory including one
of the mascots of the place on the
wall
Another view of the fountain at the Easter Suburb Memory including one of the mascots of the place on the wall PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/4.0, 1/200 sec, ISO 160 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Far ahead you can spot the unmastakable clue you're i Asia: those type
of buildings can't be found anywhere
else
Far ahead you can spot the unmastakable clue you're i Asia: those type of buildings can't be found anywhere else PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/100 sec, ISO 160 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
This is what happens when old factories get a new life in the form of
artists, LEDs, and music
This is what happens when old factories get a new life in the form of artists, LEDs, and music PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/13 sec, ISO 3200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
One of the central parts of the Easter Suburb Memory was surprisinly
deserted during the day, but we did meet a few local photographers -
some were doing gorgeous wedding shoots around
here
One of the central parts of the Easter Suburb Memory was surprisinly deserted during the day, but we did meet a few local photographers - some were doing gorgeous wedding shoots around here PENTAX K-5 II s, 16.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/15 sec, ISO 200 | HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
The Easter Suburb Memory even has a fountain made of a rusty old piece of metal that looks like it's from a Studio Ghibli movie
The Easter Suburb Memory even has a fountain made of a rusty old piece of metal that looks like it's from a Studio Ghibli movie PENTAX K-5 II s, 50.0 mm, f/4.0, 1/200 sec, ISO 160 | smc PENTAX-DA 50mm F1.8 | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Chendgu has escape rooms games as well - this is the exit ... if you
manage to get out...
Chendgu has escape rooms games as well - this is the exit ... if you manage to get out... PENTAX K-5 II s, 50.0 mm, f/4.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 3200 | smc PENTAX-DA 50mm F1.8 | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
The only "newly built" part of the area is the outdoor stage - but
even this was using parts fitting and original
looking
The only "newly built" part of the area is the outdoor stage - but even this was using parts fitting and original looking PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/8.0, 1/200 sec, ISO 160 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0
Emily's coffee, a Totoro themed coffee
house!
Emily's coffee, a Totoro themed coffee house! PENTAX K-5 II s, 35.0 mm, f/4.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 3200 | smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL | CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

(here: 14)

Wen Shu Fang 成都文殊坊15 again

We still love this place, but this time, instead of taking numerous photos, we enjoyed a nice tea in the vegetarian restaurant of the Wen Shu Monastery.

Notes

Public transport and metros

Earlier we didn't use any public transportation - apart from the trains -, but this time we did make great use of the metros. They are air conditioned, clean, quiet, new, and cheap, so if you destination is on the line, use it. Price wise: 5 yuan for ~1 hour of run from one train station to another for a single ticket, one person.


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  2. https://petermolnar.net/sichuan-jiuzhaigou-huanglong/

  3. https://petermolnar.net/sichuan-shunan-bamboo-sea/

  4. https://petermolnar.net/sichuan-mount-quingcheng/

  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_787_Dreamliner

  6. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g297463-d546619-Reviews-Baihuatan_Park-Chengdu_Sichuan.html

  7. http://norahamucska.eu/

  8. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g297463-d488516-Reviews-Du_Fu_Cottage-Chengdu_Sichuan.html

  9. http://www.cometochengdu.com/index.php?app=article_viewer&action=view&id=655

  10. https://norahamucska.eu/chengdu-nights/

  11. http://www.sichuantravelguide.com/chengdu/attractions/chengdu-shu-brocade-and-embroidery-museum.html

  12. http://www.cometochengdu.com/index.php?app=article_viewer&action=view&id=20

  13. https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g297463-d2411494-Reviews-Chengdu_Eastern_Memory-Chengdu_Sichuan.html

  14. https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=18/30.6712377/104.12088

  15. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g297463-d5302983-Reviews-WenShuFang_Folk_and_Culture_Street-Chengdu_Sichuan.html