Probably by plane is the...
Probably by plane is the best way,great view of the area just before landing of the area.The airport is quite a way out from Chengdu city and I got a really great view of life early in the morning driving into the city..I will add more text and pictures soon.......stay tuned.
The picture was taken at the airport on a hot day in 1986.
After visiting the Beijing Opera we were a little sceptical about another opera. The Beijing Opera was just not our style, the singing (sometimes talking) sounded like a screaming cat. And there was not much action on stage. But we were convinced by our tourleader, this was something completely different, much more show.
She was right ! There were a few dull moments and the combination of acrobatics, changing faces, spitting fire and stick-puppets with the opera was super. The performance was only one hour or so, but it was just good.
We visited the Sichuan Opera in the Shufengyayun Operatic Circle in the Chengdu Culture Park.
Chengdu /Cheng Du - The Number 1 Leisure City in C
The Chengdu page is under ever going 'construction'. The temporary brief info about this city is bellow:
The WEATHER in Chengdu is mild, more cloudy days than other places (it is in a 'basin'/valley kind of area), and humid.
If you like Sichuan food (mostly known as Szechuan food, which is hot and spicy- famous for its intensive use of chili peppers and peppercorns), you will be at the right place; even if you do not want that hot and spicy, Chengdu also serves many other types of cuisines as Cantonese style and so on.
Food in Chengdu is VERY cheap, especially comparing to the cost in Beijing/Shanghai. Life in Chengdu is very lay-back style, comparing to a much higher pace of living in Beijing and Shanghai. The Chengdu local people are very proud of their city being ranked the number one 'leisure' city in China for years.
Teahouse is a big local culture in this part of China where Chengdu locates. There are many many such teahouses in the city, where people chat, play cards, or majong (ma2 jiang4 - a type of Chinese 'card' game), drink tea, or just daydream, being them retired or young, of all walks of the world.
You can either bike around or take bus, or take taxi (which is very cheap comparing to a foreign salary). We liked to see local people and culture, so for places with short distances, we always walked.
Chengdu has several temples and parks you can tour around. We visited the Wang Jiang Park (River Viewing Park, photos in travelogue) where 150+ species of bamboo are planted. We also visited the Wenshu Monastery (travelogue later) within walking distance from the Sheraton hotel.
A 20-minutes drive from Chengdu will take you to the famous irrigation system built 2,000 years ago for flood control and still functions, Du Jiang Yan (travelogue later). You can also hike on the Qing Cheng Mountain (Qing=green, cheng=city/town) in that area. Both the irrigation system and the mountain area are on UNESCO World Heritage List.
If you have a few more days, a 4-day trip from Chengdu can take you to A Ba area of northern Sichuan Province where the Jiu Zhai Gou and Huang Long national parks (in two separate travelogues) located and where a branch of Tibetan people live.
The scenery of the two parks are stunning, the journey is rough (10+ hours of bus ride on very bumpy mountain roads; drivers are experienced yet very crazy).
Jiu Zhai Gou is famous for its 'water' related scenes, it has 114 ponds of various sizes with water of various colors: green, yellowish green, blue, turquoise, deep blue, due to various calcified chemicals at the bottom of the ponds. The mountain scene looks much like European Alps or the US Rockies. It also has several wide or tall water falls. The widest one is about 325 meters (1,000 feet). Huang Long has terrace type ponds with also various colors.
They both are on the UNESCO world heritage list. It is better to go there with a tour group, arranged through a reliable travel agency in Cheng Du, mainly for SAFETY reason (more exactly, traffic safety), but be sure to avoid the A BA travel agency. A 4-day tour will cost about $200 per person including transportation, entrance admission and bus fare inside the park, hotel room and meals. The prices could vary depending upon the hotels you choose. Usually there are two type of prices: standard or luxury. The only difference between the two is the hotel. Further, the people paying the ‘luxury’ fare are ‘meant’ to have the ‘right’ to choose to sit in the front seats of the same tour bus.
The best way to tour the area is to hire a jeep and a driver so that you have more flexibility to see the villages along on the roads and on your own schedule (but if you choose to do so, the cost would be double the price if you go with a tour group: the jeep rental is RMB 1,000/day and for the say three days you are touring inside the park, the jeep is not used, but you have to pay the rental cost!). A 4-day organized tour is mainly 2.5 days traveling on the roads, 1 day in Jiu Zhai Gou and a half day in Huang Long, you really do not have enough time enjoy the place. We arranged to stay in Jiu Zhai Gou for 3 days instead (cost about $600 for two). Or you can take long distance bus from Chengdu, and ride along to Jiu Zhai Gou via Song Pan, an ancient town with military significance then, where many foreign travelers hanging around. From Song Pan, one can also take some horse trek.
Life in that part of area is very different from that in Chengdu indeed. The roads wind through the center of small towns and villages. From time to time, the bus has to maneuver through donkeys, horses, cows, sheep, or yaks (famous live stocks in high plateau there). If you need to know more, please let me know.
Two other places that can be easily reached from Chengdu, also on UNESCO list, are first the Giant Buddha (carved along the cliff facing river, sits (not stand!) 71 meters high, in Le Shan city). It will take 1.5- hour bus ride on freeway to get there, very easy, food is even cheaper than in Chengdu: a big lunch with 10+ dishes for 7 adults cost us only 10 US dollars. The other is the E Mei mountain area not too far from Le Shan. The bus is very comfortable, being some of the seats even recline.
We took the Yangtze River Cruise upstream from Yi Chang to Chong Qing (aka Chung King), a 4-hour bus ride to Cheng Du, flew back to Beijing afterwards. We stayed at the Chengdu Sheraton hotel, a 5-star then newly opened one. If you crave for western food, they have lunch and dinner buffet for about US$10-20 with decent food with chefs cooking/grilling for you per order along with salads, breads, cheeses, hot dishes, desserts; not those junk kind of buffet we see in restaurants here in US.