I really wanted to make this trip via train, but it seemed difficult to book a ticket on short notice, plus the extremely helpfull staff at the Traffic Hotel in Chengdu where pretty keen to suggest the plane was going to be the best option.
One of the main reasons for cvoming to this region is to go to Tibet, in particular Lhasa. Where I’m currently staying, at the Traffic Hotel Chengdu, has a couple of tour agencies located within it’s walls, there is one right out the front of the building and also one inside next to the reception.
Mt. Emei or Emei Shan (Shan meaning mountain) is located in Leshan City of Sichuan Province. It’s one of China’s Sacred Mountains featuring Buddhist temples and amazing scenery. In 1996 it was given World Heritage status by UNESCO.
Booking over the phone with Ctrip
I hadn’t sighted the hotel prior to booking but at the time there wasn’t much choice as there was a major conference on in town and accommodation was hard to find. That’s where Ctrip, the China-based travel booking service, saved the day once again.
Lijiang Airport is pretty simple, after check-in and security check you either walk to the waiting room on the left or right depending on your departure gate number. The waiting rooms have toilets, one shop, and seats although probably not enough.
I booked this flight through the airline booking service at the Tibet Hotel Chengdu. I booked it at the last minute so I’m quite sure that I paid through the nose for this flight at 790rmb for an economy seat. I think if you booked with elong or ctrip in advance you could probably get a flight for half that price.
Taking center stage on the city of Chengdu’s attraction list is the ‘Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding’. Its the largest and most successful breeding center being home to many pandas both young and old. Pandas are bred at the large park and along with being a popular tourist attraction, it also functions research and breeding center.
Chengdu, unfortunately, doesn’t make it on to many peoples list of places to visit while in China unless they are visiting Tibet or maybe going to see the Giant Buddha. That’s a bit of a shame as it is a really nice city, with friendly people and a somewhat relaxed environment compared to many other major Chinese cities.
Chengdu of Sichuan Province won’t leave shoppers empty-handed, as the center of Chengdu offers plenty of options, whether you are shopping for brand name clothing, no name clothing, electronics or local products.
After a relaxing massage at Jiafu Fudao, Rebecca took me a great place to enjoy one of Sichuan’s famous dishes, the Hot Pot. While Hot Pots are available in most places across China, apparently the Chengdu Sichuan version is something unique!
Fortunately for me a had a friend in Chengdu, Rebecca, who just happened to be a manager at the Chengdu branch of Jiafu Fudao. Whats Jiafu Fudao? A very classy place for starters!
When I came to Chengdu it really was a blessing to find this place. Let alone being my first time in Chengdu, it was my first time in China too. So I was really keen to find somewhere safe, friendly and hopefully with someone who speaks English to help this dumb foreigner!
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province which is located in western China, bordering with Tibet. It’s location actually makes it a great place to get started from, or base yourself in, if you are planning to visit Tibet or the southwest region of China including such places as Leshan or Mt. Emei.
After a suprisingly good nights sleep at the hotel, that saved me from a night on the streets of Chengdu, I woke to see a beautiful haze, a lovely light grey in color impenertable by the sun, my first morning in China. At first I thought smog, but actually its just a haze for whatever reason becuase the air seems quite ok here.
Here are six painfully boring things you could do before traveling overseas for the first time
- Check the weather and local temperature prior to leaving and take appropriate clothing. Six degrees Celsius is really chilly in a t-shirt and shorts.
- Check where the airport is, and what the best way might be to get from the airport to the accommodation you booked.
- Actually book some accommodation, particularly so if you’ll be arriving at 11 pm into a country you’ve never been, nor speak the language.
- Have some sort of map, anything
- Have some local currency, or at least check that your ATM card will work there.
- Don’t forget to buy that phrase book before you leave, it will be handy when you land late at night and there’s a limited staff on shift and none that speak English, particularly when you have no accommodation booked, no money, and no idea.
It was 2010, I had just arrived at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in southwestern China.