The Fortune Global Forum has come and gone in Chengdu, but the city has never looked more beautiful. Sunny blue skies above, a cool breeze in the air… the city’s hoping fortune will continue to smile upon its residents long after their esteemed guests leave. For the past weekend, Chengdu has played host to some of the most influential people in international business, in hopes of attracting further investment interests in the burgeoning western city. The centre of China’s “Go West” initiative, Chengdu has been an economic hub for western China for the past few years; the Forum was seen by many as the city’s coming out party for the world, allowing businesses to become familiar with the country beyond the usual Beijing/Shanghai mix.
The effects of the Forum’s arrival were visible, with many beautification projects coming to fruition in the days leading up to the big event. Flowers were replanted, fountains were constructed, and rules were enforced to put the city’s best face forward.
With already 200 of the Fortune 500 companies located in Chengdu and a growing automobile industry (Volvo has recently opened up a plant, adding to Toyota, Volkswagen, and numerous other car manufacturers in the region), the city is clearly vying to add to its already extensive list of multinationals. Attempting to attract companies by enforcing stricter IP regulations than other areas, Chengdu is clearly a city on the rise filled with opportunities waiting to blossom!
With Chengdu’s economy skyrocketing year after year and thus its overall importance for the western China region growing rapidly, it now also becomes a more globalized metropolis. A clear indicator for its international standing is the Fortune 500 meeting held here from 6th to 8th of June.
This also might be one of the reasons for the opening of Air China’s new direct flight link from Frankfurt to Chengdu this weekend (19.05.2013). Because as we all know, time is money! And since the economic downturn in Europe forced all these important managers and CEOs to sell their private jets, they don’t like to waste time changing flights when they have to attend a meeting overseas. 😉
Anyhow, this additional direct flight will make travelling from Europe to Chengdu for everybody much easier at a very affordable price. The service is scheduled 3 times a week and will take about 10 hrs. The flight departs from Frankfurt at 2pm (local time), and reaches Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 5.40am the next day. The return flight leaves Chengdu at 1.30am (Beijing time) and arrives in Frankfurt at 6.10am (local time) on the same day. The flights have been scheduled to meet connection flights in Frankfurt, making it easy to come from or go to your final destination in Europe.
Until now the only other airline offering a non-stop connection from Europe to Chengdu was KLM. They are flying 4 times a week taking 9,5 hrs from Amsterdam. The other option would be first to fly to another major airport in Asia, like Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore etc. and then get another flight to get to Chengdu. Pretty mafan! 😉
Here again the links for..
– STA Travel: http://www.statravel.com/
– Kayak: http://www.kayak.com/
Sichuan food is famous all over the world and also takes an important position in China.
If you’ve been to Chengdu, or any other part of Sichuan province, you probably will have heard a lot about Sichuan food, especially that it’s really spicy. This is not entirely true! We have a variety of food styles so there are options for all pallets, but if you are brave enough you can come with me and I will challenge you to try the real spicy dishes.
In ancient China, people called Sichuan “Kingdom of Paradise”, not only because of the food but also the culture. You may have heard of Beijing Opera… well, we also have Sichuan Opera.
Life in Chengdu is easy; we like to say that we really know how to enjoy life. You can just go to your local tea house, drink some tea, talk with your friends, and afterwards have a delicious Sichuan dinner. Let me recommend some dishes for you here which are definitely worth a try:
1. Kung Pao chicken（宫保鸡丁）
Very famous not only in China but throughout the world. Chicken in Shaoxing wine marinade, Sichuan peppercorns, and of course peanuts! A classic.
2. Pork lung in chilli sauce (夫妻肺片)
This is one of my favorites but it’s a little bit spicy, so tread carefully!
3. Steamed chicken with chilli sauce (口水鸡)
Local people call it “saliva chicken”, I have no idea why… I guess it must be so delicious that people can’t help but salivate at the mere thought of it.
If you want to try real Sichuan food, I can be your culinary guide! Come to Chengdu and I promise your pallet will never be the same… In the meantime, check out our Instagram feed where we regularly post photos of all the scrumptious dishes that only China can offer.
Last Sunday, the Sustainability Working Group of the British Chamber of Commerce organized their 2013 Earth Day Bike Ride. My colleague Leo and I joined in to escape the city for a day and explore Chengdu’s green surroundings.
The weather was perfect! We met with the other participants in the morning and got on the bus to the Lohas Green Way, a bicycle track in a green and more rural area in the Southwest of the city. The group was a good mix of Chinese and expat bike enthusiasts along with their families. It was a good opportunity to meet new people, exchange tips on where to go and what to do in Chengdu as well as do a bit of networking.
At the entrance of the park we rented bikes for the day and set off. It was really a relaxed ride through beautiful scenery with lakes and swamplands. After about three hours we arrived in a village and stopped in a local restaurant for a delicious lunch made from fresh vegetables and meat from the local farmers.
In the afternoon the group split up to explore the flower markets of the area. Leo and I had a look through the alternative neighborhoods with little restaurants, cafes and bars. Eventually we ended up on a music festival featuring Chinese bands and later in the night a DJ played his sets. All in all a wonderful day and a good getaway from the city!
At the end of last month, I went to Chengdu for our Intern China team get-together. After three days of meetings, enjoying lots of nice local food and checking out some of Chengdu’s most famous places, I paid a visit to Jiuzhai Gou National Park.
Jiuzhai Gou is one of the most famous scenic spots in China; I have many friends who have been there before and they’ve all told me how beautiful it is. So I decided to go by myself even though I know right now is not the best season for it. Jiuzhai Gou National Park is also called Nine-Village Valley, and the name Jiuzhai Gou refers to the 9 Tibetan villages that are situated in the valley. The fantastic beauty of Jiuzhai Gou lies in its 108 natural green lakes. The entire reserve covers an area of natural beauty which is 35 kilometers long. Historically, Jiuzhai Gou has been home to a small population of Tibetan and Qing people, and provides a good opportunity to get to know more about the locals’ unique life and culture.
It was really cold that morning, I could still see the snow on my way there and the temperature was below 5°C, but I really wanted to take a photo wearing our sexy Intern China T-shirt.
These days most visitors transfer at Chengdu onto long-distance busses or flights going to Jiuzhai Gou. I chose to go by bus, got up at 6 am on April 1st, and took the subway to Chadianzi (茶店子) bus station. I paid 138 Yuan for my ticket (around 17€), took off at 8 am and arrived at Jiuzhai Gou at 4pm. It’s an 8-hour trip, but I can say it’s really worth doing! On the way, I saw the 2008 Sichuan earthquake relics and lots of Qiang-style towns and buildings. The last 4 hours of the way, I saw lots of great snowy mountains and beautiful Tibetan-style houses.
I didn’t book a hotel in advance, but luckily I found a very nice one on arrival and it only cost me 60 Yuan per night (7€). I shared a room with an Indonesian girl I met on the bus, so I ended up paying only 60 Yuan for 2 nights. On top of it, it was only a 10-minute walk from the hotel to the gate of Jiuzhai Gou.
After walking around the villages, we found some local food to eat and then went to sleep very early that night to be ready for the next day.
The second day we also got up at 6 am and after an early breakfast, we went down to the tickets center and bought our tickets, which cost 310 Yuan (38€) but included an all-day bus inside the national park. We spent the whole day in the park, it is unbelievably beautiful! It was also not very busy that day, so we got to enjoy it even more.
On the third day, I took the bus back to Chengdu, and then set off directly to Chongqing in time for my next adventures!
My trip to Jiuzhai Gou National Park in total cost me about 700 Yuan (87€), so if you come to Chengdu for an internship, you will have the chance to enjoy this awesome place for a weekend!
The recent InternChina team get-together in Chengdu gave me the perfect opportunity to spend some time in our new office, see how our presence in Chengdu is developing and get to know the city even better. Our office is perfectly located in the southern business district, which means close access to partner companies, easy access for new arrivals and a convenient daily commute on foot for our staff and office interns in Chengdu. The office itself is spread over 2 floors, is very light and open-plan, which makes daily communication really easy. The building in which our office is located is split between residential and commercial spaces, so it has a familiar, homely feel, which suits our ethos. It is also right next to a metro station, so accessing other areas of the city is easy. Here’s a picture of our team in the new office:
Partner Language School
During the week in Chengdu I also visited our partner language school in Chengdu, which is a short walk from our office, in leafy, quiet residential surroundings. The staff at the school are friendly, the facilities are excellent and the location is very conducive to learning the wonderful language of Chinese! Here’s a photo of me with the school’s managers:
Host Companies, Homestay families and apartments
Our team in Chengdu has been pretty busy since arriving in Chengdu in February. We visited the city several times before Chinese New Year to begin establishing new internship opportunities and meeting potential host families, so we had a bit of a head start. This has enabled us to have around 30 internships and over 30 host families in Chengdu already!
What Chengdu has to offer
Relaxed life / Speedy development
Chengdu strikes a perfect balance of fast-paced development and relaxed day-to-day life. The tea house culture means parks are always full of locals and visitors playing Mah Jong, cards, practicing Tai Qi and generally relaxing with a brew. This lies alongside areas of break-neck development such as Century City, where the skyline is dotted with new highrise glass buildings and cranes in the process of building even more. Chengdu is establishing several direct flight routes to Europe and there are an increasing number of internationally recognised exhibitions at the enormous exhibition centre, which all point to the rapid rise in Chengdu’s profile as one of the most promising second tier cities in China. Here’s an example of Chengdu’s more relaxed pursuits getting your ears cleaned whilst chilling with a tea in the park (Sunny and Till are the recipients!):
We all had some pretty spicy hotpot and tested our stomachs against the notoriously spicy and delicious Sichuan cuisine. Chengdu also has lots of restaurants offering cuisine from all over China, which is lucky for our Chengdu Office Manager Jenny, who isn’t a fan of the local spice-levels! One of my favourite parts of Chengdu is the Tibetan district, where you can browse and buy lots of colourful Tibetan trinkets and material and walk alongside Tibetan monks (see picture below!), which is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience! Chengdu also has 2 massive universities and a huge student population, so it’s fair to say that Chengdu is a very student-friendly city.
Intern China recently opened its third office in the city of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. The Intern China team is now spread out between Qingdao, Zhuhai, Chengdu and England. But this past weekend, the management teams from Qingdao, Zhuhai and England converged onto Chengdu to celebrate the opening of the new office, take care of business and experience some of the city’s highlights.
First, Yours Truly and the Zhuhai Team were flabbergasted at the stunning amount of taxis waiting to whisk of us out from the airport into the city. A sea of green taxis with welcoming red lights reading “空车“ or “empty car”.
While waiting for the Qingdao team to arrive, the Zhuhai, Chengdu and England teams went out to catch up over a meal. Running into long time friend of Intern China- Rudi!
Saturday with all offices fully represented, a morning full of face-to-face about business talk (and Peter’s Tex-Mex) was put aside and Intern China hit the streets of Chengdu.
Renmin Gong Yuan (人民公园 People’s Park) in the heart of Chengdu was the place to be. One of the most famous places in Chengdu to watch people and drink tea, families were out in full force to take advantage of the lovely weather. There was candy, pineapple on a stick and ear cleaners. The IC team put local ear cleaners to the test. For 20 kuai, could they really clear the wax and help you hear better? Chengdu Intern Till tested. While Leo and Zhuhai Office Manager Phil remained skeptical.
Sichuan province is famous for its spicy food and Saturday night, the team was taken to a classic hot pot restaurant. In addition to testing everyone’s tolerance for 辣椒 – spice, everyone was tested in proper business dinner etiquette. The main points of the evening included: identifying the most senior person at the table, proper gestures of respect and how to make a toast.
Chengdu is home to the Giant Panda Research Base and one simply cannot go to Chengdu without stocking up on panda gear. Panda-themed souvenir shops are everywhere. While the IC team failed to see the giant pandas in person, IC General Manager Jamie did his best to lessen our disappointment.
As much fun as we had, all good things must come to an end. Come Monday, with a renewed sense of camaraderie and a slew of wonderful group photos, the teams returned to offices from whence they came. GM Jamie lingered to support the Chengdu team before heading over to Qindao.
Chengdu is a dynamic city – some people say it is the fastest growing city in the world! Skyscrapers and shopping centers are being built up quickly everywhere in the city. However, there are still some peaceful places left, where you can rest your stressed soul.
One of them I visited last weekend: Qingyang Temple – the place where Laozi is to be said that he spoke the Tao Te King (also: Dao De Jing 道德经) to one of his disciples, which is one of the main books (besides the famous I Ching/Yi Jing 易经) of Daoism.
If you are a little familiar with Chinese culture, you might know, that Daoism is a deep-rooted concept in Chinese history and Chinese daily life. Even if you haven’t heard of Daoism yet, you might have seen the black and white yin yang symbol before, or have heard about Taiji, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or feng shui.
As these concepts are becoming more popular in the West now as well, a lot of people are living a part of the Chinese culture in their daily lifes already. Now, where is this all originating from?
Chengdu is the center of the West of modern China. However, in ancient times it was part of a kingdom during the Warring State Period. There was a wise man (some say he is more a mystical figure, but it seems like there is prove that he actually lived): called Laozi (老子). He was said to have lived at the same time as Confucius (or Kongzi 孔子), who is well-known in the East and West for his quotes about state-philosophy and the relationship of family members. Laotse was a follower of the way of Dao and formulated the 81 core principles of Daoism. The book has inspired hundreds and thousands of commentators and has been translated and interpreted in many languages. In honour to the place where he was said to have read these principles to one of his disciples, a temple was built. Today, it is called Qingyang Gong (The Green Goat Temple 青羊宫).
The temple has been built during the Chunqiu Period and has been revived under the Tang Dynasty. Parts of the temple have been renovated during the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century. It has been one of the few Daoist temples which was allowed by the Chinese government to open its doors again in the 1980’ies.
Today, it is a centre of peace and relaxation. A teahouse on one side forms a place for socialization of local people, whereas within one of the yards you can watch young disciples training Wushu and older disciples training Taiji. Everywhere you can see Daoist nuns and monks, who stroll around in the park and help keeping the incense stick holders clean.
In several places, you can find references to the Daoist astrology, namely the 12 animal zodiac signs (mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse. Goat, monkey, chicken, dog, pig): May it be engravings on the floor or little sculptures on stone walls. Also look out for the big yin-yang symbol which is engraved in the stone floor in one of the yards. The symbol looks simple, but is highly complex, therefore I just want to give a brief summary: The yin is represented by the black part which is carrying the white seed, the yang energy, and the other way around. Yin energy is often anticipated with the female, the moon and the earth, whereas yang energy is often anticipated with the male, the sun and the heaven. In combination and interaction they are creating life or also called the ‘Qi’. Qi is everything which moves, wherever is movement, there’s life. Where ever movement stops, there’s no life anymore. The ideal balance of yin and yang always creates life.
Many people I know, say, that if you have seen one Chinese temple, you know them all.
I have to refuse since I know Qingyang Gong. Buddhist temples in China, that might be, often end up as tourist attractions selling lots of souvenirs, snacks and drinks. I even found a Starbucks once in a temple area. Buddhism in China has sold itself out, maybe. I am glad to say, that if you are looking for a true place for spiritualism, you can come to Chengdu and visit Qingyang temple. Pay the 10 RMB entrance fee, get some incense sticks to send prayers to your ancestors, family and friends and enjoy a happy and relaxed day by get your yin and yang in balance!
There are more aspects than Chinese modern business culture, that you are interested in? Our team in Chengdu is happily arranging visits to temples or organizes other cultural activities to help you understanding the Chinese culture better.
Apply now for an internship and become part of the Intern China experience!