Mark Hiew (more chengdu)|
A lot of visitors to Chengdu will attempt to “do” the city in the space of a few days. From their hotel they will take hired transportation to the panda-breeding center and to Leshan’s large Buddha before purchasing souvenirs on Jinli street. In so doing, they will catch some of the pre-organized “highlights” of our city, but they will miss almost all of its unique charm. Chengdu is not a city of sights, but rather, a place of slowness, of unhurried discovery and subtle beauty. It reveals itself only over time, and only to those willing to put down their guidebooks and wander un-mapped routes through its countless back alleys.
One of the best neighborhoods to explore is Yulin, located in Chengdu’s southwest, whose dozens of sleepy, narrow tree-lined lanes and authentic local teahouses and restaurants make it ideal for a day of urban exploration. One of the gems you’ll want to see is Xiao Hua Yuan (“Small garden”, as locals refer to it if you translated the locals language into English), a small neighborhood park located at the intersection of Yulin Xi and Si Xiang Roads. A large monument stands at its rear, celebrating Chinese civilization through a mixture of carvings ranging from ancient mythology to modern industry. Statues of three current-day, model workers look out over the park’s small, shady pathways, which provide leisure space to local schoolchildren and card-playing workers alike.
Nearby, alluring bamboo walls and back alley teahouses invite you further in, or continue west on Yulin Xi road to Old Little Bar, one of the neighborhood’s most beloved watering holes, for some refreshment. So, when you’ve had enough of the “sites,” take a bicycle to Yulin, avoid the thoroughfares, and discover your own small slice of everyday wonder. We guarantee you won’t find it in any Lonely Planet.