Chengdu – Sichuan Province
In China the best students go to the best schools and there is no paying your way past this. The best graduates go to the best universities and the best college grads run the government. It’s a meritocracy here and it shows. If the roads become busy then they are widened before congestion. Any homes or temples in the way are simply flattened. The government seems to be playing Sim City and they’re playing to win. If there is one thing I can say it’s that everything is extremely efficient. Yes, there are some freedoms foregone as a result (Fifty Shades of Gray was banned from theaters. I can’t say I feel bad for the people.) I know there are more freedoms than that missing, a good portion of the internet is banned, but it works for them. The government has pulled the once struggling economy up and they now have 3% unemployment. It’s impressive to say the least.
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province and is an officially recognized UNESCO City of Gastronomy. I’m not sure of the official reasons why, but I can’t disagree. There isn’t much street food compared to other places, but there are a lot of restaurants that serve awesome food. There is definitely a range of what you could pay. You can have a bowl of noodles for as little as $2 or you could easily go to a fancy restaurant and drop $50-60. All levels of food are executed well. The cheaper foods just more often involve less meat, more noodles and more broth. Some dishes to definitely try are mapo tofu, dan dan noodles and of course the hot pot with whatever meats or vegetables you prefer. If you don’t know what you’re doing they’ll walk you through it. If you DO know what you’re doing they’ll show you how to do it right.
There’s a big bar street here. There’s a lot of neon and a lot of students from the nearby university. The drinks a bit pricier here as well as everything else so don’t plan on it being a cheap night. Right around here there is a popular little shop that sells little stuffed pies of a sort. The options are beef or chicken and the line is long. The line moves a little slow because they are all baked fresh and served pretty much out of the oven. It’s good, flaky crust and not spicy in the least.
In the malls/department stores there are plenty of restaurants and don’t think the location says anything about the quality. Most of the restaurants I went to in malls were actually high end restaurants and some even served foie gras (get it.) At any rate, the city has a lot to offer, but the thing I noticed was that amongst the bar street and the high-end fashion shops were lots of old people. Older people playing mahjong in front of the department stores and at night practicing tai chi next to the bar street. There is not really any compartmentalization of the elderly here. The family as a whole is celebrated here and it’s intrinsic to the culture.