Day 4: 成都 / Chengdu to 青城山 Qing Cheng Shan
If you were paying attention last time, you’ll already know the third character of this one, 山 / shan, or mountain. The first character, 青 / qing, means blue-green, or often just green. You may notice that the second character 城 / cheng looks a lot like 成都 / Chengdu’s “成，” except for this extra little radical on the side which is 土 / tu, and means “earth,” as in dirt. So in conclusion, the words for “become” and “city” are written quite similarly, which may seem strange, but it is because they are both pronounced “cheng.” All in all, 青城山 / Qing Cheng Shan means something like, “Green City Mountain.”
I was determined to make the last full day of my time in Chengdu a success, since the first two had been, ah, notably rough. I started the day off by visiting the panda sanctuary, which was an excellent choice.
Chengdu is famous for being the city of pandas. Sichuan is one of the few places in China where there are still actual pandas left in the wild, and Chengdu also has this nice panda sanctuary. It is not just a place where pandas can live in their natural habitats, but is also a center for panda breeding, which of course preserves the species and also means baby pandas!
I got up early enough to still actually be early to the panda place, arriving at about 8:30 AM. Visiting in the morning was definitely the right choice. By the time I left, the place was only just filling up with those obnoxious Chinese tour groups where the lady in the front waves a little flag around and everyone around her crowds out the attractions while gabbing on loudly about the surroundings. And the pandas were also feeding early in the morning, which meant I got to watch the chubs shoving copious amounts of bamboo into their mouth, which of course is adorable.
After eating my fill, I was able to progress over a violently rocking suspension bridge and onto the main attraction of Qing Cheng Shan—the nature. For the next hour or two, I meandered up a winding path up and into the mountains. There were plenty of green trees and waterfalls to remind me of what that stuff looked like, after only living in a city for the past few months. The only problem was that the people were still so 人山人海 that I could barely even see the path. Still, it was by far the most enjoyable destination of my trip.
That night the bus dropped us off at a subway stop, which was fairly convenient as I could use it to easily get back to Tianfu. As I hopped on the train and rode along, seeing stops that were designed in a very similar way to the Shenzhen subway, I realized it for the first time—I genuinely missed Shenzhen. I missed the way people didn’t point and stare at me on the subway, and I missed its cheap crazy flashiness and I missed its daunting sprawl. In Shenzhen each subway stop is its own new adventure, but in Chengdu the city is small and compact and similar.
I enjoyed walking through the quiet streets of Chengdu, and I enjoyed the city’s history, I really did. I had considered moving to the city at the beginning of this year, in fact. But I now know I made the right choice in deciding to come to Shenzhen. It’s a place where I’m beginning to feel at home.