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Homeland pepper and panda

Yin and Yang of the Chinese hinterland

Homeland pepper and panda
Photo: shutterstock.com
A variety of ingredients are sent to a pot of boiling, bright red pepper broth one after another: greens and vegetables, seafood, tree mushrooms, meat and fish, tofu, noodles ... The traditional Sichuan dish - ho-go - shows the cultural diversity as well as possible a region with a history of more than 3000 years.

The emblem of the city of Chengdu - "birds of the golden sun." A gold disk depicting four phoenixes flying around the luminary was found in 2001 during an archaeological dig. Today this image can be found almost everywhere, and its main meaning is the continuity of development and prosperity of the city, whose history has long since passed over two thousand years. And this is not just a motto, Chengdu, being the capital of one of the most densely populated provinces in China, is really growing rapidly, adding several districts a year.

Building from scratch, which is practiced throughout China, allows you to apply the most advanced building technologies and adhere to a comprehensive development plan: city authorities think through the entire infrastructure in advance, based on the fact that life in Sichuan capital should be modern, comfortable and healthy. New areas are being built with an eye to the future and environmental friendliness, surrounded by kindergartens, schools, hospitals, artificial gardening. They do not look uninhabited high-rise buildings on waste grounds, fenced in fences, but painted in bright colors, instead of fences - vegetation, fountains, sculptures. The point of environmental protection for China is especially important: concern for the environment is a new and very popular trend in the Middle Kingdom.



The glory of the ecological and "green" capital of China is also added to the city by the fact that Sichuan is considered the home of the so-called "big panda" - the main national and diplomatic symbol. More than 80% of the entire population of these animals lives in the province, there are several large nurseries for breeding rare animals. Tourists from all over China come to Chengdu to see with their own eyes these sluggish and good-natured bears at arm's length. For example, some travel companies even arrange "panda tours", when guests of the province can immerse themselves in the life of real volunteers in nurseries for one day, caring for the panda and cleaning. The wealthiest tourists can even order a “photo with a panda”. All proceeds are used to support the nursery. The queue is lined up in it starting at 7 am, because it is at this time that the pandas get their breakfast and are quite active. It should be noted that pandas are also the unofficial symbol of the province, the theme of these cute animals adorns the subways, buses, and even police offices, there are also themed panda hotels.

It would not be superfluous to note that the tourist potential of Szechwan is simply amazing: 3000 years were not in vain - in almost every village in the province you can easily find several monuments with a thousand-year past. Sichuan is located in the heart of China and has always been in the thick of things. The period of historic flourishing falls on the era of the Three Kingdoms (220 – 280), when Sichuan was part of the ancient kingdom of Shu.

Many memorable places here are connected with the ancient transport system - the Shu roads, built in the 4th century BC. e. On these roads, goods from other countries were delivered to China and export deliveries went, partly the famous silk road ran here. Whoever controlled the Shu roads essentially owned the entire mountainous region and could control trade by charging customs fees. “It's easier to ascend to the sky than to get to Shu by road. / The mountains rise up in a chain, and there is only a meter to the sky, "wrote one of the greatest Chinese poets Li Bo in the XNUMXth century. Part of the Shu roads are still in use today, with some becoming broad-lane highways and others becoming scenic hiking trails. On one of these trails in the crevice between the rocks is the famous Jianmen Outpost. It has existed for about two thousand years, and throughout history the enemy has never been able to overcome it. They say that "if one husband protects the outpost, a thousand husbands will not pass." This tourist route is interesting from the point of view of the “one belt-one way” concept.

If you visit the usual bus station of Chengdu, then you can see all the variety of attractions on the map: the province is located in a very interesting geographical location, occupies part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Visiting Sichuan, you can get acquainted with the culture of the so-called "inner Tibet", in Chengdu even has its own Tibetan quarter, where you can buy real attributes of Tibetan temples. In the provinces you can see the ancient Tibetan temples themselves. It is convenient to use the visit to Chengdu for further visits to Tibet, which has become available in recent years.

To get acquainted with the history of the ancient kingdom of Shu and simply enjoy the dishes of spicy Sichuan cuisine in the region, 50 comes to millions of tourists annually. Surprisingly, in this number the share of foreigners is at the level of error. “We have a lot of foreign tourists,” says Yui's guide. “But almost all of them come from Vietnam and Korea, there are very few Russians.” And this is despite the fact that Moscow and St. Petersburg with Chengdu are connected by five direct flights per week (3 and 2, respectively). There are practically no empty seats in the cabin, but almost all passengers are Chinese, Europeans can be counted on fingers. This is due to the post-crisis change in the exchange rate: trips to Russia have become twice as accessible for the Chinese tourist, while visiting the land of pandas has become an expensive pleasure for the Russians. Previously, before the fall of the ruble, Chengdu held a leading position in the national tour with tour operators in China.



Nevertheless, all tourists in Sichuan are very happy: a large number of super-modern hotels, tourist centers have been built, numerous cafes and restaurants have been opened, there are English-speaking staff in many places. At the beginning of the year, a special office was opened in the city of Lanzhong to help foreign tourists, all of whose staff speak English. Another unique feature of this center is the extension of any type of visa - both tourist and business and educational. “Suddenly you want to stay with us a little longer,” explain the center staff.

For several years, China is among the ten most popular tourist destinations among Russians, ranking sixth (between Ukraine and Estonia): according to Rosstat, in 2018, Russian citizens made more than two million trips to the Middle Kingdom, slightly improving the performance of last year. However, the lion’s share of our compatriots today visits border cities using the visa-free regime, or goes to the capital of China - Beijing, while most of the neighboring state remains a “white spot” on the tourist map of the world.
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