Chengdu

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Chengdu is depicted in a poem as "Chengdu Landscape, as if endowed by the Ninth Heaven, is shared in the creations of many a master artist." A magnificent and modern provincial capital, Southeast of the Sichuan basin, Chengdu enjoys temperate climate and plentiful products.

The city located between latitude 102?5' and 104?3' east and longitude 30?6' and 31?6' north. With an annual rainfall of 997.6 mm, it occupies an area of 12,389.6 square kilometres, and now has over 3 million inhabitants in the city proper, and over 10 million in greater Chengdu. The average annual temperature of 16.2 ?ˉ?, an annual sunshine time is 1,239 hours and the frost-free period is 300 days.

Chengdu is more than 2,000 years old. In contrast to some other Chinese urban centres, and despite raging redevelopment, Chengdu has managed to preserve the atmosphere how one might imagine China to have once been sometime in the past.

Chengdu was already the political, economic, and cultural centre of western Sichuan by 400 B.C. During the Five Dynasties Period (907-960), Meng Chang, a ruler of later Shu, had numerous hibiscus trees planted on the city wall, so the town eventually became known as the City of Hibiscus.

Skirted by famed tourist cities: Chongqing, Lhasa, Xi'an, Kunming, Guilin etc., Chengdu serves as the hub of communication and a tourist transit centre. Major tourist attractions include: Temple of Marquis Wu, Du Fu's Thatched Cottage, Wang Jian Tomb, River-viewing Pavilion, River Funan -- a city mote, Baoguang Temple, Giant Panda Breeding Base, Dujiangyan Ancient Water Project, Mount Qingchengshan and Xiling Snow Mountain and so on.

Chengdu, also known as the hibiscus city or the brocade city, has been a famous cultural centre with age-old colourful traditions of both religious and civil significance for the past 2,500 years in Chinese history. With the coming of the spring, peach blossoms abound on the plain and rape-seed flowers tinge the landscape golden while the wafting cooking smoke curls up from the farm huts amidst bamboo groves. All this makes the city and its suburbs truly poetic. The annual happy occasions of the traditional lantern festival, flower show, the yearly opening of the sluices at the Dujiangyan, the dragon boat races at Xinjing, and the folk-lore sing song contests at Wang-cong Memorial Temple are also charming and captivating scenes. The old street scene at Huanglongxi township, the gorgeous mansions of the Liu family at Dayi county and a number of picturesque civilian villages are well preserved for people and future generations to appreciate. In Tiexiangsi, there is the College for Buddhist nuns in China, and the Guanyin Temple in Xinjing has preserved the most lively colour sculpture and wall-painting of Ming Dynasty, Zhaojue Temple, Wenshu Monastery, Baoguang Temple and Daci Temple in the city are known as "the four famous Buddhist monasteries in western Sichuan". Hemingshan at Diyi county is the sacred seat of origin for Taoism, and Qingyang Palace is the best preserved memorial temple for Laotzu, the founder and master of the Taoist faith. Sichuan opera with the Chengdu brand as representative, is one of the principal genres of regional drama. It is particularly famous for its sense of humour and its unique skills in "Changing one's countenance".

Built on flat ground, Chengdu can easily be explored on foot or by bicycle. It has almost a southern aspect, with colorful old streets lined by scores of small restaurants and walkways that remain crowded until late with traders, buyers, and people out for a stroll.

One could eat one's way through the region's countless specialties by visiting the snack bars or teahouses, which often have free performances of Sichuan opera or other instrumental pieces to entertain guests as they sip their jasmine tea. These teahouses are popular gaming hangouts, particularly for older men playing Chinese chess, which resembles the Western game of chess. Not surprisingly, many teahouses have recently transformed into small cinemas, with recent releases shown from video discs.