Like much of the big cities in China, Chengdu is a valley of a thousand high-rises. Built on the industrious backbone of 14 million people, Chengdu is a city that works.
Nothing demonstrates this more than the thousands of scooters that buzz through the city streets during rush hour; the metres of bamboo scaffoldings that extend high above the city streets; the overflowing sidewalks and subways.
Yet, amongst the hustle and bustle, the locals seem to enjoy a satisfactory quality of life. It is not uncommon to see men and women, young and old, enjoying a stroll through the spotless inner city mini-parks or fishing alongside the river that runs through the city centre.
One need not look further than the famous Jinli Street for a true sense of Chengdu. A charming, ancient-styled shopping district, Jinli boasts breathtaking old architecture and quirky attractions, such as candy blowing sculptors and tea houses that sell an assortment of Chinese teas.
Taken aback by the Kung Fu movie scenery of Jinli Street, one anxiously awaits the flying daggers and crouching tigers at the local corner café but it turned out to be just a Starbucks.
Venturing outside the city centre, you will find the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a facility that attracts millions of visitors annually. It is one of a handful of conservation sites where the public can view pandas without interrupting their indigenous habitat.
With China’s urbanisation rate, facilities like these offer a valuable service in ensuring the survival of this national treasure that is only found in the country’s northern parts and is a symbol of pride for the Sichuan province.
Our host at the visit to the pandas was the multi-national corporation, the Huaqiao Fenghuang Group.
The company boasts an impressive portfolio, which includes a papermaking plant that produces paper from recycled waste and, in South Africa, is the engine behind Galencia properties.
Galencia recently became the title sponsors of the Show Jumping Derby.
Chengdu and its residents have a charm that immediately welcomes the only black face in town and has won over the heart of this eager traveller.