Home to one of the most notable cuisine of China and more than 100 million of its populace, making it China’s most populous province, Sichuan spans an area of 570,000 square kilometers in an area that has long been protected by a ring of mountains. The natural inaccessibility of this province has helped to preserve its rich traditions but it has also been at the center of conflict in efforts to control the region in the past. The natural barrier formed by the mountains makes the climate very favorable for agriculture and allows for cultivation throughout the year, making the province one of the most important rice producing regions in China.
The capital of Sichuan province is located in the center of the central Sichuan basin, at the confluence of the Nan and Fu rivers, and is more than 2000 years old. (more…)
Southwest of the Sichuan basin, about 150 kilometers from Chengdu, the town of Emei is snuggled at the foot of the Emei Shan, one of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains. (more…)
Visitors to this city will puzzle for awhile and scratch their heads wondering if something isn’t right with the city. It will seem strange in comparison to the other cities in China till the visitor realizes that there are no bicycles on the streets. This is because the city is built on steep slopes overlooking the confluence of two rivers and cycling would be tantamount to suicide, especially in summer since Chongqing is also notorious for infernal temperatures during this season. Still, Chonqing is pleasant enough to stroll around. Take in the rapid growth of this city as it races to adopt the lifestyle of Shanghai.
Although rather scanty in terms of tourist sights, Chongqing still manages. There is a Liberation Monument at the end of the eastern peninsula, which is a huge clock tower. Located nearby is the Luohan Temple, which is reputed to be over a thousand years old and contains a collection of 500 terracotta arhats, as well as an impressive sitting Buddha. The temple also has a vegetarian restaurant of exquisite standards.
Just 30 kilometers away from Emei town is a town, which is rapidly becoming cosmopolitan. One of the world’s most magnificent manmade monuments sits near this town overlooking the confluence of the Min, Qingyi and Dadu rivers. It took monks in the 8th Century more than 90 years to carve the Great Buddha out of the side of Mount Lingyung. This 71 meter colossus has its own internal drainage system and has been entered into the UNESCO heritage listing since 1996. The town itself dates back to the Tang dynasty and tours can be organized from Chengdu with buses making the trip in 3 hours.
Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve
About 500 kilometers north of Chengdu, the Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve spans an area of 150,000 acres filled with breathtaking lakes, rivers, ponds, waterfalls and forests. There are even a few panda conservation areas for the black-eyed bear admirer.
Several Tibetan settlements are scattered throughout this natural wonderland and Tibetan prayer wheels as well as chortens dot the dream landscape. Imagine yourself standing beside one of the tinkling wheels, listening as the wind plays out a ethereal tune on it and gazing out into a panorama that can only be described as heaven on earth, as eternally snowcapped peaks stab into a clear blue sky.
Local legend tells the tale of an immortal called Dage and a fairy called Wunuosemo who lived deep in the mountains. Dage fell in love with the fairy and gave her a mirror, which he had polished with the wind and the clouds. Wunuosemo was a little careless with this gift of love and dropped it. The mirror shattered into 108 pieces, which transformed into the 108 lakes of the Jiuzhaigou. Whatever the origins of this land are though, it is undeniably a paradise and a welcome escape from the strain of city life.
The Giant Panda
The Ailuropoda Melanoleuca are only found in the mountains of central China, in small isolated areas of the north and central portions of the Sichuan Province, in the mountains bordering the southernmost part of Gansu Province, and in the Qinling Mountains of the Shaanxi Province. There are only about a thousand of these adorable looking bears left in the wild and several groups are found in Sichuan.
Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
About six kilometers north of Chengdu Zoo, this research center is home to 12 pandas and a museum with exhibits on the creatures as well as their… procreative activities. It is definitely a better place for the pandas and for the animal lover in comparison to Chengdu Zoo where the bears are kept in enclosures which resemble prison cells with a branch or two tossed in for décor. The main base covers an area of about 36 hectares with the breeding ground area covering 230 hectares.
140 kilometers northwest of Chengdu and an eight-hour trip by bus will take you to the Wolong Nature Reserve. Set up in the late 1970s, Wolong is the largest of 16 reserves set aside by the government specially for the conservation of pandas. Eleven of these 16 reserves are found in Sichuan. It must be remembered that the panda, being so few in numbers, is not easily seen while in the wild. So visitors to Wolong must be prepared to be disappointed and make do with a commune with nature.