Wind and Rain Bridges&Drum Towers

Before we into the main body part, please allow me to introduce a mysteryious county – Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where is situated at the border areas of Hunan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. In the areas along the rivers and brooks, the folk buildings of the Dong nationality could be observed, which are wooden houses with abundant ethnic features absorbed inside. These buildings are also rich in the Dong traditional folk culture and characterized by a strong shroud of mystery, as a result, they are very attractive to visitors.   

The Climate in Sanjiang Area
Sanjiang County is situated in low latitude area, which has a subtropical and humid climate. The annual average temperature is between 17 to 19 degrees. Rains and hot weather are usually existing at the same time and there are distinct summer and winter here. In the dawn and dusk, there are always fogs and all through the four seasons of the year the climate is good enough to do farm work. In spring, there are often cold and rainy drizzle days, in summer there are mostly heavy rains and high temperatures, in autumn it is quite often to have draught and in winter there are frost sometimes.

Spring begins from middle March and ends in middle May, then comes the hot sumer , autumn comes at late September, and from the beginning of December to March next year is cold winter. During the year, the coldest time comes in January with an average temperature of 7.1 degrees and the hottest time is in July with an average temperature of 27.4 degrees.

The Drum Towers of the Dong Nationality

The topography of Sanjiang County is characterized by mainly low hills and downlands, and vast mountains and hills are also widely distributed , winding fluctuantly in this area. The main inhabitants here are the Dong ethnic group, who account for 53.6 percent of the local population. As the Dong people are characterized by their strong and unique ethnic features in aspects of food, clothing , housing and transportation and there are imposing and splendid natural sceneries as well as abundant and colorful traditional festivals here, Sanjiang County has become a hot tourism destination for visitors to enjoy and appreciate the unique ethnic culture and beautiful natural scenery in the middle part of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. As soon as arriving in this county which is under the jurisdiction of Liuzhou City, visitors can not only immediately feel the strong and peculiar Dong ethnic folk culture, but also the unique and universally acclaimed architectural art here. Whenever walking into a Dong ethnic village, the first things coming into sight are the Wind and Rain Bridges and drum towers, which are well known for their unique architectural styles, exquisite structures and imposing and splendid appearances.

Drum towers are architectures of the Dong people with very unique styles, and they are widely distributed in the border areas of Hunan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. Tall drum towers stand in the Dong villages, looking quite imposing and splendid. From the bottom to the top, decorated by sagging eaves , there are many steps leading to the top , just like a big tower. On the tiles and eaves, there are colorful paintings and carvings of mountains, rivers, flowers, dragons , phoenix , birds , and people clad in ancient clothes scattered in clouds and mists , creating a very colorful and imposing atmosphere. The drum tower in Gaozeng Dong Village of Congjiang County Guizhou Province is more than 20 meters high , with 13 storeys. In Jintang Dong village of Liping County Guizhou Province, there are three drum towers in one single village, which is very unique and creates a magnificent atmosphere.

What Time did the Dong People Begin to Build Drum Towers? 

As there are no written records of this, the answer is still unknown. However, the Dong people have been told from generation to generation that there have been drum towers ever since the construction of Dong villages in ancient times. According to historical records from the reign of Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty(1644AD-1911AD), the Dong people at that time put big pieces of woods in the grounds as the base and then constructed high towers, and the singers slept inside at night. From this we conclude that there have been drum towers from as early as the end of the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644) and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. From ancient times, the Dong people have always been densely inhabited in different villages, the biggest one of which includes more than one thousand families, and in the smaller ones, there are thirty to fifty families. The drum towers are usually constructed by families with the same family names, that means that there could be several drum towers in one single village if there are different groups of families here sharing different family names. The Jitang Dong village mentioned above is one such example, which is very common in the Dong villages.

The Building Materials of the Drum Tower 

The building materials of the drum tower are the woods of firs. There is the main column in the center of the tower, and different parts are strongly connected with each other . People can get to the stop by the steps. The drum towers all have complete wooden structures , no nails are used here. However, the whole structure is very strong and could stand there for hundreds of years without leaning or rotting. The exquisite and excellent architectural techniques of the Dong artisans are vividly embodied by the drum towers.

The main column and the woods of other important parts are chosen by the prestigious and respectable seniors among the Dong people. Only those trees which are with good quality woods, bulky, tall, and old could be used as building materials of the drum towers. The woods  which have been chosen by the seniors are marked with signs, and those without signs cannot be used. As a result, the tree which provides the marked woods is considered to be the king of all fir trees. Judging from the meaning of the name, it is believed that the Dong people in ancient time built drum towers in order to place their drums inside. Therefore in the Dong villages where there was a tower, there was  always a drum inside, and where there was a drum, there must be a tower constructed for the drum. As time went on, people just called this structure drum tower. The drums inside the towers are usually made from birch woods, as a result there comes the nickname birch drum. The drum is always placed at the top of the tower. In the history of the Dong nationality, whenever there were important events needing to be discussed , agreements needing to be reached, invading enemies needing to be beat back, the Dong people hit the drum to assemble all the villagers. The drum was always hit by the leader of the village . When hearing the sounds of the drum, all villagers gathered together in a very short time. At normal times, people were usually not allowed to climb the drum tower if there were no important events.

The bottom part of the drum tower is in a square shape, with long benches surrounding the building, and a fire pit is placed in the central part.In front of the entrance, it is the place to celebrate the new year and other important festivals of the Dong nationality. In summer when it is very hot, all the villagers including men and women, young and old, come to the drum tower , chatting with each other in the shade. In cold winters, they come to sit around the fire pit, sing songs, play musical instruments, and share interesting stories. The Dong people have the custom of sitting on the benches of the drum tower, especially during the Spring Festival, in each of the Dong village, all people gather together at the square in front of the drum tower, singing songs accompanied by playing their own unique instrument Lusheng ,which  is a reed-pipe wind instrument. Also they perform their own operas, the contents of which are based on the traditional folk legends and stories of the Dong nationality.

The drum tower is also the place where the old people teach songs, the young people sing songs,the children learn songs, and the old artists teach and make operas. The Dong villages are always well known as the Sea of Songs, which is quite reasonable. Their songs not only have very beautiful and attractive melodies, but also have very compact and inseparate contents. There are various forms when singing, especially there are harmonious singing styles combined together when different people sing together, which is very unique and special among all the ethnic groups in China. The Dong operas have been developed on the basis of songs and it is widely loved by the Dong people.

The Delicious Food of the Dong Nationality

The local Dong people like to make their special oil-tea, which is the inevitable food at all the three meals a day in some Dong families. When making it, the Dong people first boil the oil-tea leaves with different seasonings in water, then filter out the leaves and put the main food inside before eating it. The food could be anything, such as raw rice, noodles made from rice and fried rice, and so on. Anything that could be eaten by human beings could be put into the boiled oil-tea as the main food. There is also another kind of food which is called sour fish, and it is quite delicious. However, not everybody can get accustomed to its special flavor. Usually the oil-tea is eaten at breakfast, and sticky rice food and peanuts are often put into the oil-tea to make it more delicious.

As the popular saying goes that the Dong people cannot live without sour food, they love to eat sour dishes very much, which mainly include sour fish, sour meat, sour ducks, sour vegetables, etc. All of these are very important dishes for the Dong people to treat their distinguished guests. If the host like the guest very much, the first meal in the Dong family to treat the guest will be the above-mentioned sour dishes , in the meanwhile, the self-made sweet wines are also served, which is their own special way of welcoming the distinguished guests.

In fact, the flavors of sour dishes are very special, especially the dish of raw fish, and there is no such food in any other places of China. The Dong dishes all have very strong taste, however, most visitors can get used to it and they will never forget the special flavor of the Dong food in their future life.

Qarhan Salt Lake – Where you can see Salt Wonders

Qarhan Salt Lake,is the largest salt lake belonging to the Qaidam Basin, where located in the salt marshes of the Qaidam Basin near the Mongol-Tibetan prefecture city of Haixi in the northeastern part of Qinghai Province, and It is called China’s Salt Lake City. Qarhan Salt Lake is also the country’s largest salt lake and, in fact, is one of the most famous inland salt lakes in the world.

Although the Qaidam Basin is a low-lying marsh, it is situated on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau at an altitude of 2670 meters. The lake, oriented on an east-west axis, is 160 kilometers in length and varies in width from 20-40 kilometers, while the lake’s depth varies from 20 meters to a mere 2 meters.

As a natural resource for a number of important minerals, Qarhan Salt Lake is famous for its deposits of

sodium chloride – with a reserve of more than 50,000,000,000 tons, Qarhan Salt Lake can keep the entire world supplied in salt for the next 1000 years,

carnallite – a glittering, translucent ore of potassium (KMgCl3•6H2O) used in the manufacture of potash salts, carnallite comes in a whitish, brownish or reddish mineral form,

potassium, magnesium, lithium, boron and iodine.

Not surprisingly, the area around Qarhan Salt Lake produces so-called pearl salt, a product dubbed the “King of Salt Lake”, a pure salt that is as white as driven snow, and glitters like jade. The Qarhan Salt Lake area is also home to the Qinghai Potassium Fertilizer Factory, which is located on the lakefront and is one of the largest suppliers of artificial fertilizers in the country, with an annual output of 1,000,000 tons.

The word “Qarhan” is Mongolian, meaning “salt marsh”. Located in a hyper-arid basin that is extremely hot and dry, and with long days, the amount of evaporation from the lake far exceeds the amount of rainfall for a comparable water surface elsewhere. Indeed, Qaidam Basin is itself endorheic, with no inflow of water from the outside except for runoff surface water that accumulates in the marsh and its lakes. The lakes have therefore shrunk over time, and this shrinkage is also due partly to the lakes’ (marshes’) briny water which crystallizes into salt under the searing heat, leaving a hard, sloped rim in the form of a salt bed that rings the present-day lakes, including Qarhan Salt Lake.

Though the terrain surrounding Qarhan Salt Lake is flat and desolate, the landscape is nevertheless interesting and unique. The lake itself, though devoid of fish, is home to a few special plants that grow in abundance here. For example, there is a species of flowering plant here that produce flowers in various suggestive shapes such as corals, gems, pagodas and even shapes reminiscent of certain constellations in the night sky. On a clear, calm, sunny day, the sun’s reflection on the placid lake brings to mind the image of a mirror, and on days when the wind blows, the lake seems to be alive with dancing reflections that glisten with the heaving movements of the lake, creating a mirage that will fool you into believing that you are gazing at an ocean instead of a lake. The beauty of the lake at such times, enhanced by the salt flowers – known locally as “the blue flowers” – is truly compelling.

The best time to visit Qarhan Salt Lake is from spring to autumn, i.e., from April to October.

How to get there:

You can arrive at the lake by a regional bus, while there is a special, small train which runs around the lake, offering splendid views of the marsh in general and of the lake in particular. You can take at minimum recommended time ½ day for visiting. 

Lijiang Weather

The overarching factor that affects the weather of the entire area, including most of Yunnan Province and parts of neighboring Myanmar and Sichuan Province, as well as Arunachai Pradesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet (Tibet Autonomous Region), is that it is a highland plateau situated at a low latitude, very near the Tropic of Cancer. The peculiar combination of a high altitude – meaning a tendency toward cooler temperatures and clear, sunny skies – and a low latitude – meaning a tendency toward a hotter, more humid weather pattern – results in, for the most part, a climate that is characterized by cooler summers and warmer winters, combined with heavy rains in the monsoon period, but relatively clear weather throughout the rest of the year.

The exceptions to this general pattern are mountain tops, where it is cold year round (sometimes snow-capped year round as well), and the bases of deep gorges, which vary depending on whether they are located in the north of the province or farther south: deep gorges located to the north have hot, dry subtropical climates while deep gorges to the south have hot, humid subtropical climates, such as the climate around the wild elephant reserve, Xishuangbanna.

Another regularity regarding the climate of Lijiang, and Yunnan Province in general, is that the temperature swing is greater on a daily basis than it is on a season-to-season basis, meaning that layered clothing– at least the use of warm outer clothing in the mornings and evenings – is imperative.

The area around Lijiang in the north is the most typical for the province, with cooler summers and warmer winters, and with heavy rains concentrated in a distinct monsoon period, which makes the area very accessible to the tourist year round except for the worst parts of the monsoon period. Lijiang’s rainy season begins in May and ends in October, with the heaviest and most recurrent rainfall periods (some locals would swear that they can set their clocks by it) occurring during July and August, meaning that this is hardly the ideal time of year to visit the Lijiang area.

But like all highland areas that are bordered by mountains, the weather, due to highly fluctuating heat and wind patterns (the Indian Ocean to the south has great influence over the winds arriving here, including their temperature and water content), can change several times in a single day. In fact, there is an apt saying in the north of Yunnan Province that captures this climatic instability: “in the north of Yunnan Province, you can experience all four seasons within the span of a single day!”

The Weather in Diqing

The prefecture named Diqing, also alternately called Deqen Prefecture, Zhongdian and Shangri-la, is an idyllic meadowland, dissected by the Three Parallel Rivers (the Yangtze (locally called the Jinsha), the Mekong (locally called the Lacang) and the Salween (locally called the Nujiang)), and surrounded by mountains, which is how the mythical land called Shangri-la – now believed to be identified as the prefecture of Diqing – is described in the 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, by the British author and adventurer, James Hilton.

Diqing lies on the southern extremity of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, at an altitude of 3380 m (3696 yd), surrounded by the Nushan, the Yunling and the Gongga – aka Minya Konka – Mountains, collectively known as the Hengduan Mountain Range. Since Diqing is located at a low latitude – it is only 4.5 degrees latitude (1 degree latitude is equal to 111 km/ 69 mi) north of the Tropic of Cancer, meaning that it belongs to the subtropical zone – it can be warm, but because the prefecture is situated on a high plateau, it can be cold.

The way this odd mix actually works out as regards Diqing is that by day it is warm, while by night it is cold – seasonally, very cold indeed. This general pattern is true for all of Yunnan Province except for mountain heights (they are frigid) and deep gorges (they are tropical). In addition to the extreme daily temperature swing, there is a slight seasonal swing in temperature in the province, just as precipitation generally follows a seasonal pattern.

For example, on the mountains surrounding Diqing, the temperature in spring is rising at higher elevations, releasing water on the terrain below, but this leads to evaporation, which, by night, can result in cold mists, so Diqing nights during springtime seem as cold if not colder than during winter, and since the daytime temperature is also rising on the plateau in springtime, it feels as if the daily temperature swing is greater than it actually is, from 5-20 degrees Celsius. Summer is the warmest season and also the rainiest – unlike many other regions of the world, where spring and autumn are the seasons with the most rainfall. The daily temperature swing in the Diqing area during the summer is 15-30 degrees Celsius. The daily temperature swing in Diqing during winter is at its greatest, from below 0 to 20 degrees Celsius, with lots of snowfall on the surrounding mountains and the occasional blanket of snow in the meadowland below.

Summer and autumn are the best periods to visit Diqing. Autumn offers the usual spectacular color changes, when the leaves of the trees are ablaze with color and when Shangri-la is at its most enchanting. Regardless of when one visits the area, it is absolutely imperative to bring along clothing suitable for a hot summer day as well as a frigid winter night, as both can come into use on a daily basis.

Dali Transportation

By Air

Dali Airport is located roughly 13 kilometers east of the city of Dali. At present, there are only domestic flights to and from the city of Dali, namely, between Dali and the cities of Kunming and Xishuangbanna. Note that there is local transportation to Dali Airport from Xiaguan, a suburb of Dali, where you can reach the airport via Bus No. 7. Note also that plane tickets are available at a number of Dali’s major hotels, as well as at the travel agencies on Jianshe Road, in the suburb of Xiaguan.

Airport Inquiry Tel: (0872) 231-5335

Ticket Office Tel: (0872) 217-1999

By Rail

There is a major railway line between Dali and Kunming, and from Kunming on to Chengdu, and, of course, from Chengdu to anywhere else in China. Trains between Dali and Kunming, which operate daily, arrive at and depart from Dali’s Guangtong Railway Station. There is also a minor railway route that runs between Dali and Lijiang, and from Lijiang on to Shangri-la.

Railway Station Inquiry Tel: (0872) 232-5579

Ticket Office Tel: (0872) 216-6588

Regional Bus Service

From the regional bus station near Dali’s western gate, there are daily buses to the regional city of Zhongdian/ Shangri-la (north of Lijiang). There are also express buses to the cities of Lijiang (to the north), and to Kunming (to the east). In addition, there are minibuses from this regional bus station that serve the Dali-Lijiang route. Lastly, there is a bus that departs the same regional bus station for the city of Shaping – and its famous marketplace – every Monday morning.

Dali Municipal Bus Service

There are 17 bus routes serving the municipal area of Dali, with in all 11 buses in service, which, together with the other transportation modes outlined above and which connect the city of Dali, both regionally and nationally, to the rest of the country, make for a satisfactory and varied transportation network that meets the needs of both the indigenous population as well as visitors.

Chengdu Nightlife

Located in the center of southwestern China, the Chengdu City is a very prosperous regional hub with all of the modern, broad-ranging nighttime activities so that one would expect of a successful metropolis of the size of Chengdu. In fact, the city’s nightlife is on par with that many of China’s larger coastal cities. Chengdu has traditionally been a city of active, culturally involved people who are fond of music, art and theatre (mainly Sichuan Opera). Sichuaners also have a long tradition of dining out, visiting tea houses and shopping at large, open-air markets, though today, much of this is being replaced by Western-inspired shopping malls, upmarket restaurants and the ubiquitous bars & night clubs where you can dance ’til you drop’ or sing along to Japanese inspired karaoke.

In the following you can find out more about what Chengdu has to offer in the way of after-hours activities, with something to suit every taste, from cultural to recreational activities to nighttime forays to bars & night clubs, as well as visits to tea houses & coffee shops. Welcome to Chengdu after dark!

Popular After-hours Activities

Cultural activities

Chengdu has its fair share of museums, historical sites and ancient temples – and of course, Chengdu has a Zoo where you can also see real pandas – but what really distinguishes the city, culturally, is its opera, which is part of the Sichuan Opera tradition, one of China’s oldest regional operas. Chinese opera is unlike Western opera in a host of ways, but mainly in the fact that it rarely involves start-to-finish, plotline dialogue and/or monologue (except for Beijing Opera), but instead consists of several component parts that involve circus-like stunts (acrobactis, fire spitting, clowning, etc.) as well as dramatic, story-telling parts which, like opera everywhere, are sung.

However, Sichuan Opera is especially characterized by its circus-like elements, where the actors are either consummate acrobats, consummate magicians (illusionists), consummate fire spitters or consummate clowns, besides another category of consummate performers in which the city of Chengdu absolutely excels: the dazzling art of face-changing, which involves the uses of multiple (layered) masks that can be changed at lightning speed.

The current Chinese master of the art of face-changing (i.e., mask changing) is Chengdu’s He Hongqing, who has attained such fame that there are YouTube videos displaying his art, and he – or rather, He :) – was recently interviewed on the BBC, where he explained a bit about his “magic”, albeit, without revealing precisely how he manages to change his multiple faces almost at the blink of an eye (a photographer once tried to capture the secret behind this by turning up the shutter speed on his camera to the maximum, but had to admit that He’s face changes happened so quickly that even his camera was unable to follow the action). All of the circus-like components of Chengdu’s opera are accompanied by appropriately dramatic music, often involving a number of wind- and percussion instruments, punctuated by shrill shrieks.

But Chengdu’s opera is more than its circus-like elements, there are also elements that follow the story-telling tradition à la Beijing Opera, involving dramatic acting, often with interludes performed by a solo artist, combined with very specific symbolic movements – sometimes involving specific props – that have a long history of meaning in Chinese culture. Many tea houses in and around Chengdu stage shorter opera performances of this nature, which can almost be compared to puppet theatre, but where the puppets are real, live humans, and where the “puppeteer” is the script.

If you catch one of these opera performances in a tea house in Chengdu – or, indeed, at any of the other venues in Chengdu where opera is performed – rest assured that you will be provided an English-language pamphlet explaining the plot and the characters involved, in much the same way that you would be provided a similar pamphlet explaining the Italian-language performance of, say, La Primavera by Paganini at the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Recreational activities

If you are in search of recreational activities as a way of fun and/or exercise in Chengdu, the options are limitless, and range from golf (try the Luxe Hills Golf and Country Club or the Sichuan International Golf Club), boating (pedal boating on the adjacent lake), bicycling (you can rent a city bike to get around town, or mountain bikes for trips to the countryside), trekking (trekking tours are arranged by the major hotels – or check with your travel agent or the local tourist kiosk), horseback riding, ice skating in winter and kite flying in summer, and there are fitness centers cropping up everywhere in the city, as the Chinese are becoming more and more image-conscious. And, of course, you can keep fit the Chinese way by spending an hour or so each day learning martial arts.

If tennis, badminton or basketball is your thing – and provided that you have players enough to get a game off the ground – then try Chengdu Sports Center at 11 Renmin Middle Road – they are open from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

But if you are looking for a bit of nighttime fun and exercise, then either billiards or bowling is probably your ticket. Every major hotel has one or more billiard tables, and either billiard or pool tables can be found in expat bars such as the Shamrock Bar and Dave’s Oasis. There are a number of American-standard (AMF) bowling centers in Chengdu, and the number is increasing as the Chinese people discover the fun of the sport and the opportunity for active social interaction it offers. Below is a pretty exhaustive list of bowling halls in Chengdu.

California Bowling Center
123 Shawan Road  
Opening hours: 09:00 – 01:00

Chengdu Bowling Hall (part of the Chengdu Minzu National Hotel)
No. 78, Yongling Road (said to be an upmarket haunt that also incorporates a fitness center)

Olympics Bowling
2F, Lidu Mansion, Section 3, Hongxing Lu
Opening hours: 09:30 – 24:00

Wandan Bowling Center  
2 Wandan Cang Road
Opening hours: 09:00 – 01:00

Bars & Night Clubs

Chengdu enjoys a lively nightlife entertainment scene that offers something for just about everyone, from a secluded bar where you can enjoy a cultured conversation with your girlfriend or shoot a game of pool or snooker with a buddy, to karaoke bars where you can get tipsy and make a fool of yourself with no regrets the day after, to singles bars where the personnel pass messages back and forth between interested parties, to night clubs with live music ranging from Chinese pop to techno to hardcore Cantonese-Chinese rock.

In fact, Chengdu by night is becoming one of China’s hottest cities for partygoers, partly – if not mainly – it is said, because Chengdu is at least an arm’s length from the watchful eye of Beijing. Increasing numbers of Chinese people can afford a life in the fast lane, and in Chengdu they seem to be taking to it like ducks to water. According to a 2006 article published in the Los Angeles Times, Chengdu is “China’s party city”. Below is a representative list of night spots worth checking out (you’ll have to find the addresses yourself).

Shamrock Bar – a popular American expat hangout with pool tables, rarely with a live band, but usually with a solo guitarist playing American folk-rock ballads on the weekends

Dave’s Oasis – a popular British expat bar (Dave is a big fan of Chengdu opera)   

Pub Street – not a bar’s name, but a street full of pubs, located near the river, no pool or billiard tables, no live music, but a cool place to have a chat over a beer, or to get plastered and then take a swim in the nearby river

Dan Xing Dao (“One-Way Street”) – a singles-only bar (hence the curious name) with a communications system that helps you to overcome your shyness: the personnel will pass on messages and telephone numbers; every table has pencils and noteblocks for this express purpose

Lotus Palace – a night club occupying two floors, with a bar and live music on the first floor, a second floor bar-restaurant for drinking, dining (they serve French style cuisine) and chatting, and an outdoor biergarten, weather permitting

Hongse Niandai (“Red Age”) Club – a night club with restaurant, bar and disco hall, with raucous music, fashion shows and DJ competitions

MGM – Chengdu’s de rigeur night club for serious partygoers. It has several sections, one with a live pop/ rock band, another playing techno music, one with light Chinese pop music, and one with hardcore Chinese-Cantonese rock, all of which have dance floors as well as table-and-chair arrangements

If you are into karaoke, Kakadu Club & Disco and the Meigaomei International Recreational Club, as well as the bars of most of the city’s main hotels can satisfy your needs.

In addition, there is a special street – Jinli Street – that offers a little bit of everything in the way of nightlife, from tea houses to small, nook & cranny eateries to special crafts boutiques to ordinary bars and pubs, and Jinli Street also has a number of bed & breakfast establishments. The architecture and street lighting of Jinli Street is quaint – and most picturesque at dusk, it is said – adding to the charm of this unusual street.

Tea Houses and Coffee Shops

Tea houses are not as popular as they used to be (modern coffee shops are crowding them out), though they can still be interesting places to see Sichuan Opera, and, naturally, they are great places to hang out if you happen to be a dyed-in-the-wool lover of tea. If life in the relaxed lane is what pleases you, then a tea house is the place to go. The tea houses of Chengdu serve all the major teas, including the famous Chinese teas such as jasmine, maofeng and zhuyeqing. Below is a short list of tea houses in Chengdu.

Yuelai Tea House

Huaxingzheng Street (free opera performances Tuesdays & Saturdays, 14:00 – 16:00)

Heming Tea House

Renmin Park

Dabei Temple Tea House (it also serves as an impromptu gallery for art works and antiques – your chance to pick up a work from a coming Chinese master?)

Wenshu Monastery Tea House

Middle Renmin Road (located inside Wenshu Monastery, it is one of the least expensive tea houses in Chengdu – remember to take in the monastery if you pay a visit!)

Coffee shops are becoming increasingly popular in Chengdu, not surprising since China’s – and Chengdu’s – “nouveau riche” are increasingly emulating a Western lifestyle. There are a handful of Starbucks in Chengdu, and as many coffee shops of similar foreign brands. Chengdu also has its own non-chainstore coffee shop called The Coffee Beanery, located on the second floor of the Gaobang Department Store on Chunxi Road.

2019 Chinese Lunar New Year Travel Tips

There are some advantages as well as disadvantages travelling in China during the Chinese Lunar New Year period . On the plus side, it is a perfect time of the year to “rub shoulders” with the Chinese people (the Chinese tend to be open and friendly, but they are even more so during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays; and all of people could enjoy a week’s paid vacation) – and you would catch opportunities to “rub shoulders” with the Chinese people. You will be given the many cultural activities and featured delicious food show taken place during this period.

On the less positive side, it must be said that there are large crowds in transit everywhere in China at this time of year, not just at all of the major transportation hubs such as airports, railway stations and bus terminals, but also certain hot flights has been booked, trains in general are likely to be booked, and even regional and municipal buses can overcrowded. And of course shopping malls can be teeming with life, while the plazas and block sidewalks will be filled up by public gatherings and processions can fill up .

In addition, many hotels are booked far in advance (the lower the rental price the quicker they fill up, naturally, which would suggest that the best strategy for foreign visitors is to make reservations as early as possible), restaurants can be jam-packed, and with such large throngs of people, all vying for the same limited resources, prices are naturally on the increase.

Still, the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, with their multitudes of Chinese people “in flux”, is no need to be viewed as a strictly negative thing – in fact, some visitors find the bustling crowds of the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday period to be a large part of the attraction of travelling in China at this time of year.

The following collection of helpful tips are conceived with the foreign tourists in mind. Observing these information will help you to avoid the most congested travel modes and destinations, and they can help you to take it all in your stride, as it were.

Chinese Lunar New Year Travel Tips For Foreign Tourists

* Please avoid traveling by rail if possible, since this is the preferred mode of transportation of the Chinese people, because it is cheap and efficient (both excellent reasons for traveling by rail at any other time of the year in China except New Year!) and partly because it is a social event in itself. Nearly all of the Chinese people are on holiday – and many of them on the move – the likelihood of finding space on a train is minimal, and even if space is available, it can be a daunting experience for foreigners to be so tightly confined alongside so many people who do not speak their language.

* Where feasible, Please avoid the beaten path, i.e., stay away from the largest cities with the most popular tourist destinations, though, who would wish to avoid Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing or Guilin while visiting China?! If you insist to visit some hot cities, then heed especially the next two tips…  

* Please arrange as much of your itinerary as possible beforehand, as this will save you from having to constantly juggle so many in your travel options that it spoils the fun of traveling. You should especially book as many of your flight tickets and your hotel rooms as possible to avoid the limited resources. If you wanna enjoy a loose,carefree , unplanned journey through China, the season of summer is the best period, as the competition for accommodation and transportation is much less acute.

* Please try to exercise patience and maintain a cheerful spirit in adversity, for some level of snags at this time of year are almost unavoidable. Showing flexibility and maintaining a cheerful spirit will increase your chances of securing a satisfactory alternative arrangement, and it will of course make it easier on yourself. If you find yourself getting stressed over too many petty incidents, or over having too many people around you, try relaxing through a Chinese way by visiting a sauna, where you can also get a relaxing massage, or attend a Tai Chi lesson or two; both are guaranteed to relieve stress!

* Bring along warm clothing, and, depending on where you intend to travel (some areas in China are mild by day even if frigid by night, while a few are outright South Sea Island warm). You may find that “layered” clothing (sweaters, jackets with removable linings, windbreakers, etc.) is the best solution, as this allows you to adjust your clothing with convenience, to match the frequent changes in the daily weather.

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple

Being a national key cultural relics protection units, the Golden Temple is located in the east mingfeng foothills which is 7 kilometers away the northern suburbs of Kunming city, and it is a famous Taoist temple in Yunnan province. It is China’s largest copper architecture which is much more intact than the Longevity Hill in Summer Palace and much larger than the Hubei Wudang Mountain. It is the largest pure copper temple in China nowadays and it releases unripe brightness under the sun and looks dazzling, therefore comes the name of “Golden Temple” and being a famous scenic spot in Yunnan province.

Golden Temple features square appearance with its length of 6.15 meters and height 6.7 meters and total weight about 200 tons. The whole architecture sculpture is exquisite, proportion, aesthetically pleasing, and extremely fine realistically imitates the wooden classical architecture of the double-hipped roof jehiel mountain type .Though it has experienced hundreds of years of ups and downs and turn to primitive simplicity nowadays, it has provided important physical materials to the researches of metallurgy casting technology from the Ming and Qing dynasty in Yunnan province and also to the modelling and decoration of wood construction of the end of the Qing dynasty.

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple

Golden Temple has 500 acres of tower landscape botanical garden and it has built ten parks such as tea garden, azalea garden, magnolia garden, rose garden, greenhouse zone etc. and introduced over 2000 garden plants. Golden Temple is a unique travel scenic spot and also a combination of human landscape and natural landscape. In the back of the Golden Temple, there are one camellia and two crape myrtles which were planted in Ming dynasty and thousands of camellia flowers are in full bloom during the Spring festival time.

Travel information: 1) Ticket price: 20 RMB/adult; 2) Opening time: 7:30 a.m.-18:00 p.m.3) Ways to gi there: take the city public buses No.10,60,71,76,146 and 147 to the Golden Temple stop.

Wenchuan Earthquake Museum Is Open to Public and Saluting Child LangZheng Resalutes

On May 9, 013, after more than two years of tension construction, the “Liefeng” 5 · 12 Wenchuan earthquake memorial hall in Beichuan of Sichuan is open free of charge in the face of the social public. Exhibition hall has more than 6000 pictures, in-kind exhibitionsto reshow the glorious history of the “5 · 12” earthquake in Sichuan from the ruins to freshmen, from the solemn and prosperity. Picture shows that in the flag-raising ceremony of the “5 · 12” Wenchuan earthquake memorial Hall the saluting child LangZheng resalutes to thank the party and the government’s care.

Before the meeting, LangZheng is nervous, and the author Yang Weihua cheers for him.

Picture shows the little Langzheng before taking the saluting when he was out of the hospital in 2008.

The last part of the Memorial hall is to express the gratitude to people all over the country and the people’s liberation army who did their best to the earthquake relief work in the form of saluting by the littlel LangZheng.

“I know these people’s liberation army and it is who saved me out from the earthquake rubble”, said Langzheng when deliberately turning out a group of pictures.

Little LangZheng is following the adults to watch the shock scenes of the Wenchuan earthquake exhibition in the memorial museum. When seeing the video of the 5 · 12 earthquake field, Langzheng covers his face with hands with dignified look.

LangZheng is in flag-rising spot of the Wenchuan Earthquake Museum.

Yunnan Minority Village

Yunnan Minority Village

Yunnan Minority Village

Covering an area of 89 hectares, the Yunnan Minority Village is located in the pictureque bank of Dianchi lake in southwest suburbs of the Kunming city. It is the window to reflect and show the social and cultural customs of the 26 nations there and national AAAA level scenic spots, the national culture base of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and CIOFF committee traditional folk culture base in China.

Yunnan Minority Village

Yunnan Minority Village

Yunnan Minority Village main door is a group of rich and elegant and spectacular steel frame structures, hanging “Yunnan Minority Village ” five forceful and flourish and attractive characters, and the middle is a golden peacock graphics logo with wings to take off, which is a symbol of the Yunnan Minority Village’s auspicious happiness and prosperous and bright feature. In front the gate is wide and smooth flow distributing plaza, and the lawn is a group of vivid, lively and lovely white elephant sculptures, called “white elephants welcoming guests”.

Yunnan Minority Village

Yunnan Minority Village

Yunnan Minority Village scenic spot has a variety of ethnic residential buildings, colorful dress and clothing, witty and funny marriage customs and etiquette, colorful folk festivals, humorous and beautiful music and dance together with exhibition, recreation, vacation, catering services and other comprehensive supporting facilities. When you have a visit there, you can not only get to know the architecture style of all ethnic groups in Yunnan, ethnic costumes and ethnic customs, but also enjoy the laser fountains, water curtain films, folk song and dance, the elephant show and even taste ethnic snacks and buy national arts and crafts there. It will undoubtedly an enjoyable and wonderful trip there!

Travel tips: 1) Ticket price: 90 Yuan/adult; 2) Opening time: 8:30-17:00 in the daytime and 18:00-22:00 at night; 3) Duration: one day; 4) Best time to visit: Summer time and Autumn time; 5) How to get there: take the public buses No.73,44, 24, and 21.