CHD: Chengdu - The True Master of Carefree Lifestyle!

It was early in the morning of 25th September 2010, if I still can recall correctly. Together with my cousin - Seyton as we all used to called him, we took a cab to the airport 05:30 in the morning. Together, this two very exciting lads boarded the 9am flight bound to Chengdu, China. This trip was planned sometime ago (about 1.5 years before) and both of us were so happy that we both were able to make it at last.

Our plane landed at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport around 2pm. After going through routines like security custom screening and collected our checked in baggage, we head straight out from the arrival hall looking for transport to down town Chengdu. After a quick check with the information counter, we decided to catch a airport bus bound to city. As usual, we always choose for the one of lower cost as we have to work under a very tight budget. The bus fare was around RMB 10 if I still can recall correctly and this should be the cheapest transport you can get to the city center from Shuangliu International airport.

The journey to the city was taking about 35-40 mins by airport transit bus. As we were approaching the city, we were caught in a traffic jam and our bus was crawling slowly towards the city. We found ourselves stuck in a very bad traffic jam and our bus barely moved for 10 minutes. The driver was getting very frustrated and shouted at all the passengers on board that he gonna to dropped us all off the next junction. He claimed that we were all about 15 minutes walk distance to the agreed drop off point - TianFu Square from the junction ahead. Without a choice, we were forced to get down from the bus at an unknown street off Shuang Long Men. Look as blur as we could have been, we started to walk towards the TianFu Square as directed by the driver. As we walked and walked, going through 'Hu Tong's (small roads) for about 30 mins; I started to question if we were on the right direction. I then tried to grab a local to ask for direction to TianFu Square. He confirmed that we were on the right direction and TianFu square is around 20 minutes walk ahead. Without further delay, we walked towards the given direction. The only thing on my mind during that moment was to reach the hostel as soon as possible to drop off  my heavy backpack. Oh my gosh, my back was really hurting!

After almost an hour walk from where we were dropped off by the driver, we finally reach the famous TianFu Square and I was so relieve~"phew", at least we know that we were on the right direction to the hostel. After another 15 mins walk, we finally reach the hostel - Lazy Bones Hostel. We quickly check-in to the hostel and grab the key to our room and drop the heavy backpacks and head out to start our journey for the first day.

Chengdu, as described in most of the travel books, it is a very "laid-back" city that emphasizes on culture and relaxation. As a result, there are lots of parks of green spaces in the city center thus making Chengdu being ranked as one of the most livable mega-cities in China. And when we talk about Chengdu's culture, the first thing that pops up would be their Tea Culture. In Chengdu, tea drinking culture is seen as part of the daily lifestyle of the locals. This is comparable to the coffee culture in most of the western countries like US. Tea houses are plentiful in the city, drinking tea and playing Mahjong is the way how locals relax. To get better understanding of their tea culture and ways of relaxations, there is not better place to go but to the People's Park (Ren Min Gong yuan).

As it was only quarter past 4, we decided to head to the People's Park which is located at the west from TianFu Square. We entered the park from the eastern gate. Right at the entrance, there was a monument built in memory of the SiChuan armies killed defending their land from intrusion armies from Japan.

We were walking towards the west gate along the garden path. There were plenty of tea houses within the park and as to experience the Chengdu tea culture, there is no better way than having a cup of tea at one of these tea houses. It costs us RMB 36 for two cups of tea and a pack of melon seeds. We were relaxing in the park with a cup of tea in our hands, truly Chengdu style!

After the tea break, we continue to walk deeper into the park. We then reached at the community area where most of the locals were doing leisure and sports activities such as singing karaoke, dancing and some even practicing Chinese calligraphy art using a big brush and water to write on the floor. Man, that was just awesome!

We went out from the park from the western gate to our following desitnation, the Wide and Narrow Alleys (Kuanzhai Xiangzi - "Kuan" means wide, "Zhai" means narrow and "Xiangzi" is the alleys). It was about 15 minutes walk away from the park. Here, you can see the historical remains of the old Chengdu City which is now mostly renovated and reopened with lots of restaurants, bars, coffee shops and souvenir shops selling touristy items.

Just a little history about the alleys - "The Wide and Narrow Alleys are an area of ancient streets preserved from the Qing dynasty (1616AD-1912AD) in Chengdu. The Wide and Narrow Alleys are the epitome of the old life of Chengdu City. The historical and cultural area is composed of three parallel ancient streets and complex of courtyard houses. The three ancient streets are Kuan Xiangzi, Zhai Xiangzi and Jing Xiangzi. Wide and Narrow Alleys, together with Daci Temple and Wenshu Monastery are the three historical and cultural blocks under protection.".

After dinner, we decided to head back to hostel for early rest as we have booked a trip to the DuJiangYan Dam and the Mt. QingCheng. It was another 30 minutes walk back to hostel. This round we opted to take a different route from where we came from earlier. Walking passed some small and dark alleys with some old shops with red neon light on stating there massaging service. Well, don't get me wrong. This ain't the red light district in Chengdu but one of the lanes in Chengdu where massage services are offered by the blinded one. No comment on this as we did not try it out :).

First day in Chengdu, with a tired body due to lots of walking, I was heading to bed with a smile on my face, "Welcome to Chengdu!", a soft tone that was whispering to me...

Map below marks the places we been through on our very first day at Chengdu.

View Chengdu - Day 1 in a larger map

Penang Food!

It was about 2 months after our wedding in late July 2011. Looking back at last couple of hectic months where both of us were so busy doing preparation for our wedding, we were indeed very much exhausted. So a weekend getaway was our top priority and there we decided to go for a culinary trip to Penang while celebrating my coming birthday together!

Penang, this is a place which is famous for it's street food (or hawker food as some other would like to call it). For this post, I ain't gonna document much about the journey or places we visited over there at Penang. The main focus would be solely on the food, as every food lover will definitely find this post mouth watering :)! Well, here we go ~~ Bon Appetite!

So, let's get started with something light first.
First stop, we dropped by Penang road where it is in fact a famous road for it's street food. There were so many hawker stalls lining up by both sides of the road, serving great local Penang food ranging from porridge, noodles, rice dishes and desserts! It is definitely a place where your stomach will be "fighting" against all the available food and it will only stops when your stomach is full and can fill in nothing more!

1. The pork porridge.

2. Fried Carrot Cake with shrimps and cockles!

3. Penang style prawn noodles (Harmee).

Next, we move on to Ayer keroh. This place is famous for not only the Chinese temple (Kek Lok Si) but also for it's Assam Laksa (rice noodle in sour & spicy soup)! This is the type of noodles soup that you are either love it our you hate it. Well, for such an Asian tongue like me, this noodles soup was like food from heaven for me :)! One mouthful bite of noodles with chuck of shredded fish fillet, together with a good twist between sour and spiciness, it was all well balanced up with the sweetness of the fermented prawn sauce. A perfect combination I would say! So it will always ended up with bite after bite and you will keep asking for more! It makes me feel hungry by just looking at the picture itself :).

4. Assam Laksa

Prologue: Chengdu, China

It was almost one whole year past since my last visit to the city or Chengdu, China. With lots of stuff going on all these while, been giving myself too many excuses for not updating new post to this blog :).

Well as for this round (my trip to Chengdu), it was kind of different to the rest of my previous trips though; mainly because I was traveling with a new travel partner - my elder cousin brother, Seiton. I can still recall that the first time I traveled with my cousin was 18 years ago. Back then, I was a 10 years old kid. My cousin was traveling west to the capital (Kuala Lumpur) for during his school break. That was the first time with my parent's permission, I was traveling west together with him and that marked our very first trip traveled together (I can still remember every detail of the trip bro!).

And now 18 years later, we planned another trip together and this time our destination was Chengdu. Reason behind that we chosen Chengdu was that we were looking for a trip with more exploration rather than sight seeing in the city. We were not paired together for the whole journey of this trip but rather half of it. My cousin joined me for the first half of the trip (5 days) and I was traveling alone after that. Our planned travel itineraries included places like LeShan Buddha, ErMei Mount, DuJiangYen Dam and also the most famous travel destination in nearby Chengdu - the JiuZaiGou Park. But due to poor planning, we were hit hard by the long break holidays in China where most of the hotels were fully booked. Tours to some of the places mentioned were fully booked and that hit hard on our planned itinerary though. Well, I guess I better keep those details to coming new posts.

Just to mark the start of my coming new posts, here I present to you the picture of the famous LeShan Buddha as the entry to my coming blog posts about my trip to Chengdu.

Welcome to Chengdu!