Jiuzhaiguo Airport...at 3,500M above sea level, it is the 3rd highest in China and with straight cliffs at each side of the runway ends. No night-time landings/take-offs. The airport is built on three mountains...and is relatively new (2008 if I'm correct). It's amazing how China sliced off the top of three mountains to make an airport...would never happen in the West (well..it would take years /decades to get planning permission!).
Hidden gem...Jiuzhaigou is a spectacular national park located in the village of Jiuzhaigou, comprising of natural sulphuric lakes at around 9,500 feet above sea level in rural Jiuzhaiguo valley. The view is truly spectacular and upon first sight you just want to dive in and swim but obviously you can't because the water is so toxic. Then there are also the fairy lakes, which are located quite high up..takes 3 hours to drive...not many foreign tourists come here, not only because it is difficult to get to, but also because if you cannot converse in Chinese then it is very difficult to get around, and the place isn't really sold to foreigners as a tourist destination. It is therefore, hidden gem. My first impressions were that it is one of the cleanest parts of China. It is well-kept by the locals, with roads and lakes all in pristine condition. On the drive down, my ears popped due to the pressure changes...nevertheless, it is an amazing place to visit.
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Probably not. The Swastika has been used since the dawn of time and is still used in many religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and by Vietnam's Cao-Dais. Contratry to popular belief, religion is actually allowed to be practised in China- just don't go around preching about it! Tibetans are mostly Buddhists, and Jiuzhiagou has a large popualtion of Tibetans (as well as the whole of Sichuan province): Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Tibetan driver can't understand my Chinese...going to the hotel in the middle of nowhere...5,000ft above sea level...on the plus side...nice to breath fresh cool air!!
After a short 35-minute flight from Chengdu, arrived in Jiuzhaiguo...from 30 degrees Celsius to 5 degrees Celsius, with Jiuzhaigou being 3,500 metres above sea-level and the third highest airport in China. I forgot my jacket. But thankfully, the airport is well-equipped for such emergencies and one can easily purchase a nice thermal jacket for around 70 RMB (USD $14). The same jacket in the West could cost anything over ten times the price.
Interesting airport...as soon as the baggage arrived everyone opened their bags at the carousel and changed into winter attire...I bought myself a nice thermal jacket from a local Tibetan shopkeeper (my first encounter with a Tibetan person!)...amazing jacket cost only about US 12 (I'm sure the same jacket would be much expensive in the West)...night-time temperatures drop to -2 degrees Celsius in the mountains.
Chengdu Airport is so big, that they have guides on skates and Segways to help passengers!
At Chengdu Airport, bumped into an IL-76 belonging to PAF. No doubt a sign of the excellent relations between China and Pakistan! Amazing to see that this aircraft still flies. This one has missiles attached to it, too! Wonder what the Pakistanis are delivering or taking from Chengdu.
At the world's biggest shopping mall... in Chengdu...what you're seeing is just the half of it...it contains an artificial beach with lifelike waves - able to host 5,000 people, a chapel, an amusement park, and the Intercontinental hotel...plus around 765 high-end restaurants...
While Boeing's plant in Everett, Wash., is the world's biggest building by volume, the Chinese mall seems to be tops in floor space. Almost the area of Monaco, its 420 acres of floor space could fit nearly three Pentagons, four Vatican Cities, or 20 Sydney Opera Houses. Check out the video below:
Retail outlets are out in force to beat the competition - two very different companies selling the same/similar products. As they say, the best way to beat a competitor is to set up shop next to them!
In Chengdu...home of the Panda, Sichuan opera and the exceedingly HOT Sichuan food...Not sure why Chinese people always complain about Indian food being hot...in my opinion Sichuan cuisine is hotter than a chicken vindaloo! Except for the Panda and the local cuisine, the city doesn't really have much to offer for the tourist. In terms of quality of life, the city provides very attractive lifestyle options for expatriates (lots of companies dealing with the oil and gas industry are based here), however in my opinion, Chongqing, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are more attractive and full of life for both tourists and expats (except the haze in four of those cities!).
I stayed at the amazing Ritz-Carlton, Chengdu
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I'm inside the real Apple Store in Chengdu and right outside are hawkers selling great quality fake equivalents for up to 70% off the RRP! No one can stop them...amazing...they're cheeky enough to sit right on the doorstop of the Apple Store and hawk customers as they come out of the Apple Store...some even go back inside to get a refund and buy the fake!!
Video below taken at the Chengdu Panda Reserve.
Home to just under 30 million- I say again- 30 MILLION souls, who share an area of 82,403 km2 (31,816 sq mi) -- compare that with London's population of 13.8 million sharing an area of 8,382 square kilometres (3,236 sq mi), Chongqing is one of the world's fastest growing cities. That statement is evident when you visit the city and see for yourself the vast amounts of construction and heavy pollution that dominates the skyline. With the added in humidity and the hilly topography, the city somewhat feels a bit like Hong Kong (except for the heavy pollution and the cultural differences, of course).
For more photos you can check my Flickr account by clicking here.
To mark the beginning of the Year of the Tiger, and as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the renowned Sichuan Art Group is touring the UK for a few special (and rare) shows. The performance group is touring from the 12th of February until the 22nd of February to showcase the “The joyful Spring Festival” performance. The group consists of 26 actors; most of whom are natives and ethnic minority people from Sichuan Province - the home of the Panda, and the scene of a large earthquake in the spring of 2008. Their breathtaking performances are all aimed at introducing Sichuan culture to western audiences through music, song and dance.
As I explained in an article written in the UK Telegraph last year (click HERE to read it!), Chinese New Year can be a very colourful occasion, and this event is no exception to that note. With a total of 16 programs in the UK, the performances’ will focus mainly on native Sichuan dance, folk songs, human sized puppets and extravagant acrobatics which Chinese performers are quite well known for. The cities being toured are as follows: Belfast, Edinburgh, Sheffield, London Greenwich (18, 19), and the Westfield Shopping centre in London (20th). I was provided a special preview by the Chinese Tourism Authority. Below are the photos:
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