It has been just over one month now, since I packed up my life again and stepped onto the plane headed for Qingdao. Before that, I had spent six months in Chengdu – a fiery city, full of exciting opportunities, impressive architecture and racing development.
Since I’ve now lived in both Chengdu and Qingdao, I think it’s time I put into words how I felt the two cities compare and differ, what I miss and welcome.
Firstly, let’s talk about food. Qingdao has a delicious variety of seafood – clams in particular are my favourite, as well as other great dishes such as aubergine with potato and peppers (Di san xian), or something akin to sweet and sour pork (tangsu liji), which are always a favourite at our Thursday dinners. The food is mild, although there are spicy dishes too of course, and the street barbecue is a highlight after every night out. Other than that, you also get beer in a bag… what else can I say?
All this is great, but honestly speaking, I do actually miss the spicy kick the Chengdu food offers. Paul (Office Manager Chengdu) probably won’t believe me when I say this though, since I’ve only ever complained about the spice while I was there… Sorry Paul, looks like I developed a love for spice only after I left! Key ingredients to Chengdu food are a lot of chillies and the famous Sichuan pepper (Huajiao) which creates a peculiar numbing feeling in your mouth when you bite it. These two (and quite a few more spices) create a culinary experience that you will most definitely never forget, and although it takes some getting used to, the Sichuan food is bursting with vibrant colours and flavours. When you visit Chengdu, make sure to try the renowned hot pot. It might look daunting at first, with a chilli-red soup that is filled to the brim with Sichuan peppers, but trust me, you’ll love it!
So, in my book the food point goes to Chengdu, I think.
Next up, scenery. This is a difficult one, because both cities have their own character and particularities. Chengdu is a fast-developing and growing city. Home to the immense global centre, impressive malls and striking roadwork, Chengdu’s cityscape is an awe-inspiring sight. Travel a little further out of the city however, and you’ll encounter beautiful mountains, hot springs and little villages. I particularly recommend climbing Emei Mountain and visiting the Giant Buddha at Leshan when you get the chance. And of course we cannot forget the Giant Panda Research Base. A must-see for cute and cuddly fans, and apart from watching the lazy giants munching away at bamboo, it’s also nice to simply stroll through the vast park of bamboo forests, lakes and gardens.
Qingdao on the other hand boasts long, sandy beaches, a beautiful sea side promenade, mountains in the middle of the city and captivating architecture both old and new. Admittedly, I haven’t explored Qingdao as much as Chengdu, but I look forward to discovering the city, the mountains and the seaside. Particularly the Old Town, in the West of Qingdao, is an area I would like to see more of. I have visited the old church and seen some of the German architecture, but I think it’s not something you can do in one afternoon.
So overall, both cities have a lot to offer from fantastic scenery to amazing food and rich culture. I miss Chengdu’s lifestyle and hope to return soon, but I am also loving my new life by the sea and beaches!
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