Waking up to the Last Day in Chengdu
Today would be our last day to explore the city of Chengdu before moving on to Chongqing the next day. Having gone down to the restaurant for breakfast the previous morning, we opted to have a quieter breakfast up on the Club Floor this time. The breakfast spread was no less enticing. The breakfast was excellent, especially with the nice view from this height overlooking the river.
With breakfast done, we returned to our suite room to prepare ourselves for the the day’s adventure. After refreshing ourselves and packing essentials needed for the day, we left our suite room. Before leaving the hotel, we checked out some facilities here. The fitness centre, games room and the lounge were empty early in the morning. We then left Hotel Sofitel Chengdu Taihe to proceed with our tour of Chengdu.
Heading to Jinli Ancient Street
China has blocked Google Maps so we needed an alternative. As such, we had to download Baidu Maps on our phones and hence, getting around the city wasn’t a problem. With the help of Baidu Maps, we walked out to the bus stop on the main road. Our first destination was Jinli Ancient Street.
Getting there would be very easy taking bus number 82 just 4 stops away. Bus fare would be just CNY 2. So we waited for the bus and soon were on our way. The bus was a little packed though during the morning. Quite soon, we alighted and were outside Jinli Ancient Street.
First Attraction in Chengdu – Jinli Ancient Street
We didn’t have any intention to visit the Wuhou Shrine, so this saved us CNY 60 entrance fee. Without much hesitation, we entered the Ancient Street. The entrance was quite busy already with visitors crowding around. The streets inside were very interesting as though we went back in times with so many fun shops and eateries to explore.
The streets were clean and the ambiance very pleasant and rather modern. No doubt this is a very touristy place reenacting the glorious past of this busy, exciting and prosperous part of the city. The shops here are varied but also included modern amenities such as cafes like Starbucks Coffee.
I heard about rabbit heads as a food delicacy in China. Over here, I finally saw them sold in eateries. Besides rabbit heads, there were duck heads, wings and feet. Those blown candy figures were elaborate and interesting too. The famous changing face masks in Chengdu can be found here as well. Other shops and street stalls complement the shopping atmosphere here so it was a very pleasant start for our morning visit.
Lovely Park inside Jinli Ancient Street
We continued to explore further into the pedestrian streets and entered a park area with ponds and bridges. This is another very lovely part of the attraction in Chengdu, a good resting area as well. There were a lot of local visitors probably domestic tourists visiting this place. Surrounding this part of the tourist area are more shops, teahouses and restaurants as well as a large square.
The square here is an open eating place with tables and chairs set up decorated with lanterns and of course the interesting Chengdu face masks. This would be a very awesome place to dine during a nice day. No doubt this historical place would make a great first impression of what Chengdu has to offer to visitors hoping to relive a slice of its glorious past.
Heading to Kuan and Zhai Alley
Our next destination was Kuan and Zhai Alley also known as Wide and Narrow Alley, not far from Jinli Ancient Street. We walked back out to the main road, crossed the road and waited at the bus stop. This time, we took bus number 57 to this next attraction, just 6 stops away. Not long after, we were back on the streets following the GPS on Baidu Maps walking towards Kuan and Zhai Alley about 800 m away.
Unlike Jinli Ancient Street, the entrance at this famous Kuan and Zhai Alley is rather modern. The outside area is a very large and clean open space. Some visitors were loitering at the entrance. This modern pedestrian shopping and dining area looked rather promising. So we entered this second attraction and began our exploration.
Modern and Attractive Alley
Over here, there are more shops, teahouses, pubs and restaurants to check out. The streets were very clean full of street stalls selling all and sunder. Besides unusual food stuff like the rabbit heads, we saw pig nostrils as well and of course other exotic stuff. There are modern shops, cafes and restaurants too providing a balance of options for visitors to choose their shopping and dining preference.
More interesting was the rather unique ear digging services available here as well as over at Jinli Ancient Street. These specialists use a set of ear digging tools with brushes digging ears of customers in the open streets. We didn’t think it was a great ideal to try this unusual service due to hygiene reason. Notwithstanding, there were locals enjoying having their ears serviced on this lovely day here out in the open becoming another attraction to visitors.
So Kuan and Zhai Alley is a good place to enjoy some cultural and recreational activities. There are many photo opportunities as well. Not to mention, here is another place where you can watch the famous face changing masks at one of the venues nestled amongst the many shops on the streets. Kuan and Zhai Alley occupies a smaller area with just a few streets with interesting art pieces adorning some parts of the street walls and corners.
Back to Carrefour Supermarket
After visiting Kuan and Zhai Alley, we walked back out to the bus stop along the main road. We bought some ultra light down jackets from the Carrefour Outlet near Grand Dorsett Hotel when we first arrived Chengdu three days ago. Unfortunately, the zip for one of the jackets was defective. We hoped we could exchange for another jacket with a working zip.
So we took a bus number 70 back to Carrefour just 3 stops away costing CNY 2. We entered Carrefour and approached the salesman who sold us the jackets. The salesman recognized us as we bought many jackets from him. After showing him the jacket with the defective zip, he exchanged a brand new one for us without question.
Head to Chunxi Road for Lunch
It was near 1 pm and we were getting hungry. We decided to return to Chunxi Road Shopping area for some shopping and lunch as we had only had a brief visit the previous day. We had enough of taking buses so this time we hopped on to a taxi from the main road outside Carrefour to reach Chunxi Road more quickly. Ten minutes later, we were walking on the streets in Chunxi Shopping area.
We walked along and headed up to a fast food outlet Dicos as recommended by the hotel staff while we were staying at Dujiangyan. The restaurant on level two was quite big and bright. It wasn’t crowded at all. We bought two lunch sets and took our seats by the windows. This meal was like those we used to have at Yoshinoya but Chinese taste. The food wasn’t bad too and very affordable as well.
Shopping in Chunxi Road
From the windows, we saw the building in front having eight floors selling sports shoes, apparels and gears. So after lunch, we hopped over to explore hoping to buy a pair of shoes for my wife as well as an ankle guard to help restrain her sprained ankle. We roamed all the eight floors but she didn’t manage to buy a pair of sports shoes to her liking. We couldn’t find any stores selling ankle guard as well. So we left this building and continued shopping everywhere in the area.
The last retailer we checked out was Isetan, still harbouring hopes to buy a pair of sports shoes but were unsuccessful in the end. Before leaving the area, we went into a nice bakery to buy some buns and pastries. We might want something to bite during our train journey to Chongqing the next day. Thus we left Chunxi Shopping area to return to our hotel not very far away.
Heading Back to Sofitel Taihe Chengdu Hotel
Instead of taking the MRT back to Sofitel Taihe Chengdu, we walked back as we spotted another Carrefour Supermarket near our hotel. Along the way, we entered a Chinese pharmacy and bought some herbal medication for altitude sickness as we would be heading to Yunnan in a month’s time.
Next we had a quick round at Carrefour just across the street. This Carrefour was rather small and quiet. We were also hoping to purchase an ankle guard for my wife but again not successful.
Eventually, we returned to Sofitel Taihe Chengdu Hotel after this last venue. We had had enough of walking and shopping for the day. So it was back to our gorgeous suite room to chill and relax. We took a nap as well after catching up with the children using the excellent wifi in our room.
Dinner at Club Floor
Around 7 pm, we returned to the Club Floor the last time to have dinner. This had been a great place for us during these past three days having meals here. The food was great as expected. Of course, we didn’t missed out on those mouth-watering pastries and macrons here.
By now, the staff knew us quite well. So we chatted for some time. Before leaving, one of the lady staff gave my wife a hug as she could empathize with my wife over her sprained ankle as she herself also hurt her ankle recently.
Accor Member’s Welcome Drinks
We still had our Accor Member’s welcome drinks to consume. So we returned to the lounge at the lobby for our drinks. We were kindly served our drinks ordered from a menu. This was another nice place for us to chill. The lounge was quite empty.
Unfortunately, one of the guests in the inner most section smoked and it spoilt our enjoyment of the place. Moreover, he talked loudly on the phone and shouted for the waitress to serve him which was rather rude. Not long after, we left and returned to our awesome suite room to enjoy peace and luxury for the night.
It was a great day exploring what Chengdu has to offer. We finally got to see what cooked rabbit heads were and other exotic food stuff where we would not dare to try. In addition, we had some great time shopping at Chunxi Road again before we leave this amazing city in central China. We had much to look forward to for the next three nights in Chongqing dawning upon us in under twelve hours as we headed to bed extremely satisfied for what we had achieved in Sichuan province.
Continue to Day 10 …