Chengdu is a young, vibrant and dynamic city where you can experience the fast growing economy while being deeply imbeded in the Chinese culture, this city can offer the best of both worlds. Apart from that, there is also a really diverse nightlife that caters for all different tastes of music, beer and atmosphere.
Being here for more than 2 months now, has allowed me to discover more about the different clubs and bars in this crazy city. So I decided to make a list of the best places by areas.
A must go place when living in Chengdu as an expat is the Poly Center ( 保利中心) On the daylight, this huge complex comprises commercial and residential buildings. But when the moon shows up, Poly Center is becoming Chengdu’s top nightlife destination, gathering more than 12 clubs and bars up to the top floors !
- Tag bar & Here we go : 2 clubs located on the 21st floor, allow to a great view on the city while listening to electronic music with Chengdu’s best DJs, coming from all around the world.
- Helens : a proper definition for Helens would be « perfect place for predrinks », with free drinks from 9 to 10 and really cheap amercian style food. Helens also have an other venue in Dong Men Jiao, which offers the view on the river side.
WangFuJing Rooftop : One of the best places I’ve been since I’m here. In the summer the most amazing rooftop parties take place here. Hard place to find as you have to go through a deserted shopping mall by night, (quite scary at some point) but as soon as you get there, electro music, garden, deckchairs and cocktails are awaiting!
Tong Zi Lin (桐梓林)
Tong Zi Lin is the place where most foreigners live in Chengdu, hence has a bit more westernized bar and club scene.
- Jellyfish: Very popular with foreigners (males) and Chinese (girls) alike, this is the place to work on your international relations. Often the place you go when all the clubs around are closing when the sun rises !
- Beernest: A bit more expensive than Helens, the Beernest offers a wide range of beers and crazy good burgers and fries. Nice place for predrinks and to chill by playing pool. Interesting place to go during one of their monthly networking event.
- Tongzilin swimming pool: interesting as you may have noticed, it is not even a club or a bar. But every Sunday after a long partying weekend, it becomes the place to be for every expat, creating a ‘springbreak’ atmosphere.
- Shamrock: This sports bar is popular which shows a lot live matches (rugby, AFL, NFL, etc.) and is also the home base of the local Western-Chinese rugby team. Ladies night on Fridays
Flower Town (三圣乡)
- Dojo: If you come to Chengdu for the first time, the first word you may hear when you ask for party is this definitely Dojo. This is the venue for the infamous Flower Town House-Parties. Dojo is an American style party that takes place every two months.The music on the three floors ranges from Hip Hop to Funk and Minimal to Dub Step Chengdu’s top DJs like Luna or Marco. Additionally, there is lot of other entertainment, like Beer Pong, fire shows, live visuals and a bouncy castle. The bar offers all sorts of drinks and snacks like homemade pizza and baijiu watermelon. It is really hard to get there, but then it’s definitley worth it !
Morning Bar(早上好): The Flower Town branch of the Morning Bar has a mix of open air and indoor areas to chill out. There are some live performances and even occasionally small music festival here.
To be continued…
KTV is quite different from traditional western karaoke which is usually just a big screen at the front of the bar and a guy with a crappy computer program running the music and organizing the waiting list of singers.In China, KTV is a more private affair with private rooms, with a big flat screen TV, a fancy entertainment system and couches. It is a place, where Chinese people go to sing and have fun with friends. KTV is usually an evening activity, but many clubs in big cities are open 24 hours. So KTV can really be something to do any time of day or night. Typically, the rooms are booked for a minimum time (for example, 2 or 3 hours). KTV clubs are full-service and you can order a full array of snacks and drinks throughout the evening.
If you are not going to KTV with Chinese friends or Chinese colleagues and you don’t know how to go about making a reservation, I would advise having a local friend, your hotel concierge or your tour agent to help you.
Especially in big cities on weekends, KTV is a popular thing to do. You may be able to walk up and book but you don’t want to plan a big night out only to find the rooms fully booked. Rooms vary in size so you’ll have made the reservation for the appropriate number of people. The rooms are usually big enough for up to 10 people but it can depend. Furthermore there are many different quality levels of KTV – it ranges from quite cheap to extremely expensive.
Advice: It is best to make sure you know the location of your party’s room before you leave to look for the washroom, as the hallway design is quite confusing, and if you’ve already had a few drinks – it may take you a long time to find your party room again!
KTV is a really fun way to spend some hours doing something that millions of locals enjoy doing, so you can consider it an authentic cultural experience.
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If you have lived, studied or worked in China you may have seen Chinese people playing different drinking games in KTVs, bars and clubs. There are lots of different games and they are actually quite fun. If your a foreigner and you go out with a group of people you are not well acquainted with, or perhaps you are a little shy; it’s a kind of Chinese way of breaking the ice. I’d like to list a few and how to play them.
Game 1 – 吹牛
First of all, there is show-off 吹牛, it has many different names but this is the easiest one to remember. This is perhaps the most common game all around China as the standard rules can vary between the provinces and cities and there is no limit to the amount of players at one time. Each person has a plastic cup with 5 dice inside, each number is representative of its real value except for one which is random (anything you want it to be). The aim of the game is to guess the amount of dice that everyone has together by only looking at your own, although you can lie. However you are not allowed to have 5 dice of different values, there must at least be two of a kind. As a quick example, if there are only two people playing (10 dice), and I have a two 1’s, two 4’s and a 3 – I can say four fours as adding in the one I have four fours (as well as the unknown amount in my opponent’s cup). They may not believe that I have that many and can open (開!), but of course they have lost and they must drink. Similarly, if in the same situation I called 5 threes, and they opened as there cup did not have any three’s inside, then I have lost as I only have 3 threes (adding in the one). So, the aim of the game is to guess whether the other person is bluffing and catch them out or to guess the correct collected amount of dice. Although, Here is an OK explanation of the rules as I am sure many people are confused.
There are also some very specialised rules, for example when playing 吹牛, you can say two/three/four/five …. 1’s. Whenever, you say 1, it can no longer be a wild/random dice and it is only one. This rule continues to be in effect until someone doubles the amount of their next call. For example If player 1 calls four 1’s (three players), and the next person says five sixes only (栽)….that means that if player 1 or 3 were to open player 2’s cup, the collected amount of dice must total five sixes discounting one. However, if player 3 believed that five of the 15 die were sixes he could say 7 sixes flying (飛), as the wager has jumped from 5 to 7, they can now include one.
There are also lots of other rules, like reversing the order, playing with dead dice (nothing is the same), not looking at your dice/or only looking once, and jumping the queue but they are hard to explain at most Chinese people play with the standard rules. Another thing to remember is when the club/bar/ktv is noisy many people will use hand signs to denote their wager….
Game 2 – 青蛙青蛙跳
There are so many other games I could talk about – like 十五二十 (15/20), 美女/警察/流氓 (Beautiful woman/Policeman/Vagabond), 蘭州拳 (Lanzhou fist), 007啪 （007bang), 大西瓜/小西瓜 （big/small watermelon), lucky, clapping rock/paper/scissors, 過反 (pass/reverse),….in fact I think I know around 20 different games. However, I’d like to share one I learned recently, its really easy to play. Its called 青蛙青蛙跳 – froggy froggy jump. No matter the amount of players, each person puts one hand palm face down on the table with their fingers flat, whoever decided to call first must say 青蛙青蛙跳 and then raise one of their four fingers on their thumb whilst keeping the others pressed down on the table. If any one else raises the same finger or thumb as the person who called, they lose and must drink. Then it is their turn to call. Easy.
This is just a brief introduction to the thousands of games that are played throughout China, there a lots of different games and some people even mix the games together (for example 大戰遊戲 – big war game). If you learn just a few, you can have a really great time.
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Lots of us foreigners get home sick when we arrive in China. We miss the everyday things, things you get in the supermarket and local shops. Having read Sebastian’s blog on the Chengdu’s wine/foods fair last week, for Germans it’s beer and whiskey! For the french, Cheese and wine and for us Brits a decent cup of tea/coffee, and maybe a bickie on the side. So, I would like to say a few words on the subject and some of the new changes I think overlay China’s new cultural impetus.
With China’s continued economic expansion and the raising of living standards, many small business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs have decided to import foreign products. Not just the standard foreign food and drink/luxury items that you see in Carrefour/TrustMart/Ito Yokado. But also niche products, such as random selections of German supermarket beers or British Dark Chocolate, French Cognac etc. This is perhaps one of the best ways of showing China’s new cultural linkages with its western counterparts. Similarly, it is a stark contrast to the China of 10/20 years ago.
Many foreigners in China bare witness to the countless nouveau-riche, with their children studying abroad and their Gucci Iphone cases. For this upper class money is but numbers on a piece of paper, prices and telephone numbers are one in the same. Yet, the rise of imported niche products evidences China’s rising middle class. Where increased incomes have fueled a quest to understand foreign cultures not just for monetary gain. Even students from less privileged backgrounds, who have enjoyed their generation’s increased access to education are now taking risks to start up small coffee shops or bars. Not just catering to foreigners, but also providing their generation with better access to new ideas/new concepts for their own character and society’s development. I’m always surprised when I hear a Chinese local mention their love of IPA ale or their love of After Eights. Of course you still get locals who mix Lafayette with Sprite or give you attention seeking glances as they smoke Dunhill Cigarettes in the lift, but their is a sense of change in the air.
For me personally, greater access to different types of coffee has been fantastic. Having lived, studied and now am interning in China I have long abandoned my desire for a decent cup of tea. The teabags are not the problem, the problem lies with China’s fledgling dairy industry and a Chinese preference for Soy Milk. So fresh milk can be hard to come by and is usually fatty. Anyway back to the point……My friend recently opened a Coffee shop, selling 25 different types of coffee beans. Importing beans straight from central and South America as well as North Africa he is a quintessential example of someone trying something different. Moreover, small businesses like his who rely on great personal interest from their owners are a pleasure to visit. The minute you walk in, you really feel welcome. Unlike some places in Beijing, where you order a latte after 10 am and the Chinese/Italian sea-turtle* behind gives you a look of disgust! You should know that, reputation is important for Chinese people, but sometimes image is even more important. Eating sichuanese food in IKEA instead of eating it in the local mama and papa shops and having Louis Vuitton patterned car mats backs up your blowing cows*. So for me, access to a variety of different coffee without a pretentious owners has been bliss!
I think the point I’m trying to make is that, China is not just changing what it eats and what it drinks to look fancy, of course that is still widespread. Rather, China’s attitude towards increased cultural exchange is changing, especially for younger generations. Current economic trajectory may be creating a tiered society, but at least increased awareness of foreign concepts and ideas is reducing friction for everyday conversation, everyday living etc. There is a hopeful sense that the miasma of pretentiousness surrounding imported goods is slowly being sucked out.
China is becoming more and more livable for westerners, so for all of you interns are thinking of coming here…… know that the longer you spend in China the more you will experience increased ease of access to the things you miss from back home! Hope that helps!
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sea-turtle – 海龜 – refers to a Chinese national who has studied abroad and is now back in China.
blowing-cows – 吹牛 – literally translates as blow (v) and cow (n) but it means to brag or talk big about oneself.
China is famous for its traditional drinks and foods, especially in Sichuan where the food is notoriously spicy. China has a real knack of promoting and demoting local ingredients and local cuisine. Sichuan locals will laude their spices and complain about the salty food in the north. Vice versa, Chinese northerners complain about the sweet foods of the south and oily foods of the west, but shout loud and proud about their traditional ways of cooking. Chinese rice wine however, is something that can be appreciated by all the Chinese and us foreigners too!
A lot of tourists, expats and students who pass through or live in Chengdu also learn about the punchy Chinese white wine (白酒), with an average alcohol content of 50% and above, it is not for the faint of heart! It is sometimes said that because of its clarity, Chinese white wine is the vodka of the east. Yet, baijiu is much, much stronger. Indeed, only three summers ago I sampled homemade white wine from a farmer in southern Sichuan. I ended up sleeping in a cabbage field and I was drunk for two days!
Far less people have heard of Sichuan’s rice wine. I’m not talking about Sake or the Shaoxing wine used in the cooking of Chinese cuisines. I’m talking about the sweet, sometimes syrupy alcohol that goes with the Chinese food. With an average alcohol content of 15-20%, it’s much more enjoyable and perfect if you’re not a beer fan!
As a finished product, rice wine goes under many names as vendors choose to add local ingredients, and style their own product on the taste of the area. All rice wines however are made from gluttonous rice 江米, the same stuff you see in zongzi (粽子) eaten during the dragon boat festival. Rice wine is usually served in little clay urns, sealed at the top with red cloth with the waxy skin of the wine. It is drunk out of small porcelain bowls. Another important thing is that rice wine can be served cold. Unlike sake or soju, rice wine can be served with ice, making it a perfect summer drink!
To experience the heart of Sichuanese culture, it is important to try rice wine. Even though every provinces’ palates vary, and northerners scorn the sissy sweet alcohols of the south. The key to understanding Sichuan is through the stomach. Or out the stomach, if you down too much! Rice wine as a sneaky way of creeping up on you, especially when you’re drinking from tiny cups and relishing the sweet sugary flavour.
If you want to know where to drink Chinese rice wine with your friends, or for more fun city facts in Zhuhai, Chengdu and Qingdao; check out InternChina’s facebook page!
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Hi Everyone 大家好！
I’m Tim, I am 22 y.o. from Oxfordshire. I am the new marketing intern with the InternChina Chengdu office. Having recently graduated (last year), I am spending 8 weeks interning here.
Having studied and lived in Chengdu before I am fairly familiar with life here, but it is always great to be back doing new things, meeting new people.
Even though I arrived just 2 days ago, I am already getting straight into the internship. The first day was great, I got to meet the other interns working here; Brigitte, Helen and Kenny who is our full-time customer relations manager. I also met two new interns who will be studying with companies around the city. I can’t wait to meet more of the interns working here; to hear about their experiences and absorb more information about InternChina’s role in Chengdu. I’m really excited about organising and taking part in some of the activities to come, as well as the nightlife!
It’s a bit colder than I expected this time around but it’s warming up and the sun is out and shining today. There is usually a rather ethereal fog that hangs over Chengdu, but as the locals say, “Eat more chilli”. The chilli helps you sweat and cleanse your body.
Sounds gross, but it really does make a difference. That’s another thing you’ll need to get used to if you come here. The spiciness! The food in Chengdu is always full of chilli （辣椒）and Sichuan pepper （花椒）. You can always ask your waitress to add less chilli, or hold the Sichuan pepper . However, the cuisine here revolves around the local ingredients and if you want a really authentic experience you should copy the locals. When in Rome…..
I had BBQ last night with some of my old university friends. The BBQ’s (燒烤) are great in Chengdu, you can eat lamb kebabs （羊肉串）from the west or seafood (海鮮串) treats from the East. All with a good dousing of dried Chilli powder. In fact there is a really good set-up for midnight snacks (夜宵) here. Chengdu is the food city, so don’t be afraid to put on a few pounds!!!
If you are not in the mood for a snack, you can always kick back and relax in a tea-house. You can sit by the river and drink your favourite teas. It’s also a good opportunity to learn some Mah-jong（麻將） or Dou di zhu (斗地主) if you’re into learning card games. I know when I first came here, I learned how to play Dou di zhu (literally: fight the landlord). It opened up new ways to make local friends and understand the local culture. Best of all a cup of tea will only set you back around 5 yuan (50p). At some tea houses the board games and card games are free. The locals are friendly as well; you can crash a game if you are up for it!!
Even though I haven’t had a chance yet, I am really looking forward to going for Jing-Luo （經絡）. It’s a type of medical massage that uses pressure points and trigger points in your nervous system to relax your muscles. It’s great if you’ve had a long day or simply if you are in the mood. Pricing can vary but it’s usually around the 50 to 100RMB mark (5-10 pounds). It’s always good to go to the outer ring roads for better prices.
So even though I’ve only been here a few days I still have lots of things planned. Check my next update for more info!
Hope you have the chance to join us in Chengdu.
Useful phrase: 請少放點辣椒。Qing shao fang dian la jiao! Please don’t add so much chilli!
(I’ll post some more useful phrases as I go along).
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Growing older happens not only too fast, but it can also be pretty exhausting especially if you are abroad for your birthday.
My birthday celebrations started on Friday when I partied with some of my InternChina friends. We went to a huge club area in Chengdu where we enjoyed some free drinks with many Chinese people. Club-hopping was amazing but we were out till about 4am. So I was able to catch some sleep until noon the next day.
I was a bit surprised that my host-family did not wish me “Happy Birthday”. Later though it turned out that it was only a cultural misunderstanding. In China birthdays are usually not given special importance until your 60th birthday. Bearing this in mind, I was happy they ignored it since my 60s are still some years ahead of me. Although they did not congratulate me, they invited my friends to come over to our flat for a party. During the day my host-sister Sophie was preparing hand-made cupcakes, milk tea and biscuits as well as rearranging the furniture to make sure all my 20 international guests would fit.
It was not only a birthday party but also an International Food Feast. Every intern as well as every Chinese guest brought one home-made dish and we shared all the international food: Bangers and Mash, Chicken Wings, Spaghetti Carbonara, American Pizza, Schnitzel, Bratkartoffeln, more mashed potatoes, Chinese vegetables, fried Jiaozi and dessert. I totally enjoyed having all this delicious food at the same time.
After dinner someone started blowing up balloons. It was lovely and colourful to begin with and distributing them all over the room reminded me of childhood birthday parties. Somehow the balloons found their way all around our living room landing on people and food. Soon the peaceful party took a different turn when people started throwing balloons at each other. Thankfully no one was seriously injured during the balloon fight =).
After the party I skyped with my family in Germany and went to bed already excited for Sunday, when we had decided to see the Giant Buddha of Leshan.
It was a terribly busy but amazing weekend. Since I am leaving tomorrow I wanted to say goodbye and thank all my new friends here in China. Hope to see you soon!
This time when I came to China I had to think about some presents for my host family. I knew that colour, the way of presenting, and the gift itself can have a special meaning so I was very afraid to choose the wrong one. So here I have some ideas and advice for you.
Red, pink and yellow mean happiness in Chinese. You should use colorful wrapping paper and avoid the black and white ones because white, for example, means death. Chinese people love kitsch so try to make it as outstanding as possible for a good friendship.
Different present, different meaning
Try to find something local from your hometown, Chinese people love western stuff, like alcohol, candy or give-away goods. Pens and gift-sets (like salt and pepper) are very welcomed too. Interestingly, you should never give your host family a clock as this is associated with death. A cup is also a bad omen – its pronunciation in Chinese closely resembles the pronunciation for the word ‘tragedy’.
Also take care with the number of presents you give. Avoid giving four presents in total, as four is an unlucky number in Chinese. Words which included the syllable sì (four) are associated with death or misfortune. Eight, on the other hand, is a talisman and is, for example, highly desired in a mobile number, as you would always have fortune and luck on the go.
Don´t feel uncomfortable or misunderstand the situation when your family won´t unpack your gift after you hand it over, it’s Chinese manners. And if you have chosen the right gift they will love it J
In the end, remember that your host family knows that you are a foreigner, and maybe not as accustomed to Chinese traditions, and they will not blame you for giving them the wrong present.
So, don’t be shy, they will like you either way.