It’s been six years since I’ve been back to China. But after an 11-hour flight to Incheon Airport, a 3 hour transfer to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, and luckily no legroom fights, we are back in my birthplace!

Chengdu, especially the downtown portion, has really changed since I was last here. The first thing that you see when you exit Shuangliu Airport in the night is lights. There is no lack of light pollution as you look up and see the bright white neon signs that decorate the top floors of skyscrapers, advertising office space and more often than not, begging the passerby to call a phone number. These signs stand out against the otherwise dark facade of the buildings, a somewhat eerie contrast.

View of Chengdu downtown at night

Life in Chengdu

The first thing you notice upon exiting the airport is the humidity that constantly blankets the city. As a result, it is always feels warmer than forecasted, with an 80-degree forecast feeling more like 90. It’s very hard to see the stars at night, and even the sun can be blotted out on the bad days.

Traffic in Chengdu is filled with the sounds of vehicle horns. Chinese drivers seem to use the horn as a way of communicating with other drivers and pedestrians, rather than only for extreme situations as is the case in the United States. At intersections, the roads are filled with a mass conglomerate of cars, buses, motorcycles, and bicyclists, a truly chaotic sight. Pedestrians need to be careful, as cars have priority on the road and will often pass within inches of those crossing the road.

Waiting at a bus stop in Chengdu
Waiting at a bus stop in Chengdu
Taking public transit in Chengdu.
Taking public transit in Chengdu. Luckily, this bus wasn’t too crowded… yet.

Transit in downtown is very fast, with buses coming every five minutes. Even with their frequency, the buses are often packed to the brim. Passengers have to squeeze for space, and people do not line up to get on the bus. The drivers themselves are very daring, stopping within one inch of the driver in front.

The busy lifestyle of Chengdu strikes a stark contrast with that in Seattle. In fact, with the sheer population and traffic in the city, Chengdu is more comparable to New York.

Internet Access in China

The big three services, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, are all blocked in the entirety of China. I was able to get on some Google Services, but the connection speed is hardly tolerable. So for now, its bye-bye to those social networks!

I will be in Sichuan Province, China for the next few weeks, and will keep updating whenever convenient. As I write, it is getting quite late, and I will not let myself succumb to jet lag. Good night!

Published by Geoffrey Liu

A software engineer by trade and a classical musician at heart. Currently a software engineer at Groupon getting into iOS mobile development. Recently graduated from the University of Washington, with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Music. Web development has been my passion for many years. I am also greatly interested in UI/UX design, teaching, cooking, biking, and collecting posters.

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