Visiting Shangli Ancient Village in Sichuan Province
Shangli has been through a lot, but you wouldn’t know it from the peaceful feeling you get while walking its lanes. It’s one of 10 Chinese ancient villages in Sichuan province, but unlike its counterparts the village has been able to keep its authentic charm.
If there’s an art to attending a Chinese festival, I’m the dumb kid who eats the paint.
Give me some time and I’ll be linking to a How To Successfully Attend a Festival in China article right here.
But for now, I’ll admit that my attendance at the Longquan Peach Blossom Festival was a short-lived one. The mass of people that shuffled along the uneven paths, the noise that blared from horrendous sound systems, and the foolish purchases that were being made all around me — it’s not my style.
But perhaps it’s yours?
If you’re interested in attending the yearly festival, I’d love to tell you everything I know. I must warn you however, you might not like what you find.
Emei Mountain: Why is it so Sacred?
As far as sacred mountains go in China, Emei is one of the most important. In fact, it’s the largest of the 4 Sacred Mountains of Buddhism in China. Emei means high and lofty. At 3099 meters, it’s an appropriate name. You’ll sometimes see the name Emeishan or Emei Shan (峨眉山) – shan simply means mountain. The proper pronunciation of Emei is something like uh-may, as in uh-mazing! The mountain combines nature and culture with its many temples and monasteries that dot the mountain-side. Even if you aren’t a Buddhist, you’ll enjoy their mystical beauty.
One of Chengdu’s Top Tourist Attractions
Wenshu Monastery (文殊院 – Wen Shu Yuan) is the best preserved ancient monastery in Chengdu. It’s the home to 80 monks, and is frequently visited by both tourists and locals. The locals come to relax in the gardens, sip tea at the tea house, or worship at one of the many sacred halls. Tourist often come for the amazing stone and wood architecture, or to peruse the art and relics that can be found throughout the grounds. Wenshu monastery is a great way to spend a couple hours if you are in Chengdu.
1 Week in the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture – Tibet in Western Sichuan
Don’t let the overly wordy title scare you. The Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, may sound like a medical injury, but it’s actually an invigorating place. It is an area in western Sichuan that is mainly inhabited by Tibetans. An autonomous prefecture is a territory in China that has a population of 50% or more ethnic minorities. In Garze, there are around 880,000 people and around 78% of them are Tibetan. When my bus rolled into Kangding, the capital of the Garze region, it felt like I had entered another country. This isn’t your typical China. The Tibetan culture is here, which makes it a great alternative to traveling Tibet.
Record Shopping at Chengdu Antique Market
Chengdu is a shopper’s paradise. Malls seem to be popping up weekly across the city. There are plenty of shopping streets and specific product shopping areas. Of course, that means plenty of opportunities to buy souvenirs, but if you’re looking for something truly unique Chengdu’s Art and Antique Market is the place to go. Song Xian Qiao (送仙桥古玩市场) not only has cool gifts, but it’s also an amazing experience.
Chengdu’s Electronic District
Directly to the east of the Sichuan Gymnasium metro stop is a short stretch of road that is a haven for electronic shoppers. While ‘Computer City’ is the name of just one of the many giant electronic department stores (likely the first one) on the street, the block itself is often referred to as Computer City. It’s the place to go for electronic shopping in Chengdu. If you’re looking for a computer, camera, tablet, speakers, smartphone, security device, office furniture, or almost any type of electronic accessory – there’s probably a vendor in Computer City that has what you’re looking for.
Buying Bus Tickets in Chengdu: Xinnanman Bus Station
Officially, the Xinnanmen Bus Station is the Chengdu Tourist Bus Center, but most locals will know it by its Chinese name Xīnnánmén qì chē zhàn. The majority of their buses go to tourist sites. If you’re looking to hike (Mount Qingcheng), ski (Xiling Snow Mountain), or take in some culture (Leshan Giant Buddha) you’re likely to leave from Xinnanmen.
Exploring Chengdu’s Tibetan Quarters – Little Lhasa
The largest major Chinese city to Tibet is Chengdu. Its population consists of about 60,000 Tibetans, many of them living in an area just south of Wuhou Temple. This is the Tibetan quarters; sometimes referred to as Little Lhasa. The area is vibrant with Tibetan culture including shops, food, and a whole lot of that beautiful bright orange.
Kuan-Zhai Xiangzi – The Wide and Narrow Alleys of Chengdu, China
The Wide-Narrow Alleys (Kuanzhai Xiangzi – 宽窄巷子) are a set of lanes that have been preserved by the local government in Chengdu. About 60% of the buildings have been rebuilt, and 40% were renovated in their original architectural style. The rebuilt buildings took some liberties, adding some touches that would help them be more commercially appealing – for example, French style windows. This gives the alleys a feeling that I would describe as chic-ancient. Nonetheless, they’re a very popular tourist destination in Chengdu. As the sun comes down, people swarm the streets to shop and eat. They’re not there for the historic value. If they are, they’ll be walking away disappointed.
Jin Li Street – Chengdu’s throw-back to ancient China’s commercial streets
Walking around Chengdu, you’d think it was a fairly new city – with all the modern buildings and its crisp look – but Chengdu has an amazing history. It was on both the Tea Horse Road and the Silk Road, which made it a trader’s paradise. Eighteen hundred years ago, Jin Li Street was the aorta of Chengdu’s commercial area. It was packed with shops, lined with lanterns, and bustled with pedestrians. In that sense, not much has changed, but the street obviously holds a different purpose now. It’s one of Chengdu’s greatest tourist attractions. The 400 meter pedestrian lane has that new Chengdu crispness, but the buildings are all decorated to look like ancient China. They’re beautiful, and the people flock to the street to absorb that beauty, and to buy a lot of panda souvenirs.