The city itself also has several beautiful attractions such as the Green Ram Temple, the Wenshu Monastery and the lively Culture park. I took the metro to two endpoints and added some surprising experiences.
The Chengdu metro only had one line during my visit, with several others in an advanced stage of construction. And that was only a few years ago. But with Chinese determination, six lines have now been completed and the first has already been continued. So now there are many new things to discover for those who feel like it.
The two ends of line 1 of the Chengdu metro I visited show two extremes of modern urban China. An educational and interesting trip for those who dare to leave the beaten track.
The end of line 1 – Century City
I got off at the southern terminus, called Century City. The station is underground and when I come up I am standing on an enormous asphalt plain, the view towards the center dominated by an immense building with a wavy roof. It turns out to be the New Century Global, the largest mall in the world. Five hundred by four hundred meters in size, so that its height of one hundred meters does not even stand out.
Its scale alone makes it an attraction, even if you don’t come shopping. The Bijenkorf in Amsterdam alone fits in twenty times in terms of retail space. And that is only a quarter of the total floor space. Hotels with a total of 20,000 beds, cinemas, amusement halls, offices, a university and an ice rink of Olympic dimensions. And the superlative is an indoor beach of five square kilometers. A screen of 150 by 40 meters shows, among other things, the sunrise and sunset, which take place in the same wind direction. The prosperity that you see here makes it the only place where you can regularly see the sun, outside the city, is usually covered in a yellowish smog.
Line 1 – Tianfu Square
No endpoint, but a stop in the center. But also a place where two worlds come together. The exit leads to a square below street level where streets end up full of luxury shops. All Western fast-food chains are present, the stores carry a luxury assortment, although there is also a C&A.
At the top, Mao looks out over the square. Fountains in the form of dragons mark the entrance. The new, somewhat kitschy China. In the evening there is sometimes opera to accompany an impressive water and light show of the fountains on the square.
But if you cross the street, you will come to a dilapidated concrete staircase that leads to a vast system of underground passages. Here one could take shelter from an atomic attack. It is the largest underground shopping mall, reports a sign at an entrance. Hundreds of meters of small packed shops with a completely different, but essentially the same assortment, goods. Here to perfumes, clothing, shoes, toys, and watches. Only here is the fakest or fantasy brand. The Action versus the Bijenkorf.
The other end of line 1 – Weijianian
This station is made of bare concrete and above ground. At the exit of this northern end station, a row of identical tall narrow vehicles awaits the travelers. The carts look like poorly constructed kiosks on wheels. Unpaved roads between dilapidated concrete flats lead most visitors to farms, villages, and fields further away.
Here the city ends and the countryside begins. Between the flats, you hear chickens and you see a single pig. Sheds, built-up plots of land, everything is used. Here you will find China from a few decades ago. Or China today, of course, because it has become a country with many different gears. From shiny apartment buildings with shops and immense displays to apartments with shops in sheds and garages where people look at a black-and-white picture tube with a whip antenna on it. From the latest fashion to the timelessness that clothing seems to get when it is faded.