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CHENGDU Right, Clockwise Always centrestage are red chillies on a soft tofu snack. Fresh straw mushroom buds in a typical Sichuan stir fry. Chengdu has an exhaustive list of noodles to try. Bottom Left Everyday Sichuan spices at a local shop. just like the colourful ones worn at a Swedish midsummer festival. Whether it was just a touristy gimmick or not, everyone looked as picturesque as the rest of the town. For lunch, we decided on a homey restaurant by the river. The menu consisted of baskets of no less than 30 varieties of seasonal vegetables. We sat by the river blissfully watching a fisherman working his catch. We learned it was river eel which were on display, live, in metal basins in front of the restaurant. Naturally, we ordered some, despite objections by one member of the group who was a devout Buddhist. The simple kitchen had several types of doubanjiang or douban set out. This spicy and salty bean paste worked as the essence in most dishes in Chengdu. When the dishes arrived, it was a feast of colours and tastes - all from only vegetables and some simple seasonings. The depth of flavour and the umami imparted by Chengdu culinary magic made every dish stand out, all done in the flaming heat of a wok. On to beautiful and misty Mount Emei, one of the four most sacred The depth of flavour and the umami imparted by Chengdu culinary magic made every dish stand out, all done in the flaming heat of a wok. Buddhist mountains in China. Stunning lush trees and waterfalls bring to mind the ink brush paintings done by scholars from centuries past. We stopped to indulge in a local habit of just hanging at the nearby teahouse, enjoying the taste of fresh mountain air and the scent of bamboo groves in a batch of young tea leaves. The leaves were also visually appealing as they remained suspended upright in the tea, looking like the bamboo leaves that surrounded us. The clicking sound of pumpkin seeds set the tone for a day in the life of Chengdu. Relaxing, spiritual, and gustatory. A side trip to the Leshan Giant Buddha can be included together with Mount Emei on a single trip. The Buddha is carved from a gigantic hill in terracotta colour at the confluence of three important Sichuan rivers. At 71 metres high with fingers measuring 8 metres long, the Buddha has shoulders larger than a basketball court where dozens of people can stand on. On the way there, we purchased some fresh picked bamboo shoots from an old woman laden with a basket full. Not quite knowing what to do after we bought them on a whim, we entrusted our acquisition to the cooks at the restaurant we selected for lunch. Simply stir-fried with salt and garlic, this variety had a slightly bitter bite to it, with the fresh fragrance of mountain flowers. Then we had our first taste of the famous Chengdu fish stew called Sichuan Oil-Boiled Fish or Shui Zhu Yu. Slices of delicate, flaky fish lies beneath a slick, intense bed of red chillies, Sichuan pepper, and boiling oil – this imparts that numbing sensation people refer to with Sichuan cuisine. This lightlypoached local fish is served with green vegetables and potato starch noodles, placed in a large bowl covered generously in a layer of chillies, ginger, green onion, garlic slices and cilantro. The Chengdu culinary scene is so vast in its offerings that we almost forgot to try the classic mapo tofu. This concoction of soft bean curd with douban is redder, and has the fires of hell sitting on your tongue. There’s an exhaustive list of noodles, like sweet water noodles served in a snack-size bowl with vinegar, classic dan dan noodles, and zajiang mian, a thicker wheat variety with soybean paste and dozens of other variations. The list goes on. The only thing we didn’t get to try was the hot pot and chuan chuan, Chengdu’s version of a hot pot, with of skewered meats and vegetables that’s conveniently cooked. But like most people, we’ll return because we can’t get enough. A CHINESE GUIDE TO THAILAND Tai Guo Zhi Nan or Thailand Guide is a custom-made guidebook designed for Chinese visitors to Thailand. Packed with insights and recommendations, the guidebook is a colourful presentation of Thailand focusing on Bangkok, Samui and Phuket. Tai Guo Zhi Nan is curated and edited by some of the most experienced and talented native speakers and multi-award magazine designers. The image-driven contents open with an overview of Thailand followed by events and festivals, recommendations to the best places to Eat, Shop & Play and close with tips tailored for Chinese visitors. The guidebook is divided into distinct sections highlighted by bright bold colours and section openers. Distributed by Bangkok Airways at airports and travel agents in China, the guidebook is also available at select hotels and resorts in Bangkok, Samui and Phuket and at Bangkok Airways lounges. The Guidebook also comes in a digital format via its website taiguoguidebook.com or scan the QR code on the cover. Published by MPMI Group Co., Ltd. Read Me Scan Me 74
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