This month I took a second trip to Mainland China, including a second visit to one of my new favorite cities in the world, Shanghai. Also on the itineraray was Chengdu, famous for its Giant Pandas Research Breeding Center in Sichuan Province and home of some the spiciest food in China. I ended the trip in Wenzhou, in the province of Zhejiang, a new entrant on the tourism scene that’s promoting itself as the “Craft Capital” and a base for exploring China’s natural beauty. Here are some of the weird and wonderful things seen on the trip which were featured on MiamiCurated’s instagram page (follow us there too). Look for another upcoming post on quirky facts about the world’s new super power (if you any any doubts about this, a visit will quickly dissuade you of that) and on fashion spotting.
Handsome hand embroidered silk handbags in the Qing dynasty village in Chengdu. Silk embroidery is a major craft industry in this city of 14 million best known for its pandas.
A bench carved out of the trunk of a tree along with its roots in a restaurant from the indigenous peoples in Chengdu.
The Leshan Buddha, a UNESCO world heritage site. Carved out of the rock over 1200 years ago, the statue soars 233 feet (the nose alone is 18 feet wide) and took three generations 100 years to carve.
A favorite dessert for celebratory occasions, pumpkin filled with rice. The pumpkin’s gold color symbolizes good luck.
A simple yet lovely garnish served at a banquet in the Swanburg Hotel in a area that could be a slice of Switzerland in one of the National Parks in Wencheng, Wenzhou.
Tofu noodles with peanuts molded to look like a dragon complete with a dragonfruit and longan berry garnish. The longan berry is sweet, similar to a lychee and with the same consistency. Enjoyed at the Swanburg Hotel in Wencheng.
Herbal tea with lycium berries. Lycium is said to be a prized “superfruit”, having anti-oxidant properties.
Sugar sculpture in Wenzhou which is known as the City of Crafts. This joins other crafts including fine brush making, cross stitch embroidery, hair embroidery, fine thread papercutting, stone carving, colored stone mosaic with wood carving, and boxwood carving.
The rice sculpture above.
Paper cutting done with a knife above.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province. Interesting fact: in the wild the mother gives birth to two cubs but only nurtures the strongest and leaves the other to die. In the preserve, both cubs are kept alive. And did you know there are red pandas as well which look like raccoons and, unlike their famous relatives, can get aggressive, much like black bears.
Red panda above.
Salt and pepper water snake was on the menu on a wonderful UnTour street food tour by night in Shanghai. We sampled over 20 dishes ranging from Uyghur cuisine (Muslim food from the north), pulled noodles, crawfish and dumplings to Sichuan fare and typical desserts.
A prominent Indonesian artist, Ukonugroho created this wooden sculpture draped with handmade tapestries. At first glance,it’s hard to believe it wasn’t real. Seen at Arario gallery, Shanghai, which is the scene of the annual Shanghai art fair.
People having the wax cleaned from their ears on the street in Chengdu.
The Chinese love ornamentation, highly colorful design, and bling. More is more. Seen in the flower market in Shanghai, part of Shopping Tours Shanghai’s day long itinerary (and highly recommended), roses painted purple with glitter.