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Chengdu Offerings to Amaze You
2010-01-28

In 2005, Hunan Satellite Television launched its first national singing contest with the show Super Girls, which soon took the nation by storm. When the show reached its grand finale, people were surprised to find that three of the finalists were from Sichuan province. Of the two finalists that eventually remained, one had worked in Sichuan's capital Chengdu for some time. The only finalist who had no connection to Sichuan was the first runner-up. The following year even that changed when the first runner-up was a Sichuan girl. As footage of mothers and daughters recounting their lives in their home cities aired all across the nation, viewers had a glimpse of what it means to be a woman in this southwestern province: A Sichuan woman tends to be beautiful, with soft skin, a gift partly due to the region's high humidity. She tends to be talented and adaptive, spotting opportunities even outside the province - and she is into fashion. The TV show was about more than vocal talent. The way the young women talked, dressed and behaved set trends across the continuum of society. It gave the clear message that, although Chengdu is not a coastal city, it compares favorably with better-known Chinese metropolises. Wang Zhigang, noted consultant and strategist, used women to describe his impression of Chinese cities: "Shanghai is like a flirtatious dancing girl. Qingdao an urban sister-in-law. Beijing is a Qing Dynasty princess as created by the romance novelist Qiong Yao. And what Chengdu resembles most is a lover who is still in college with both intelligence and romantic sentiments." Wang continued to say that when ordinary people think about a city, it isn't about its GDP, but its unique culture or temperament. There is no place more illustrative of Chengdu's temperament than Chunxi Road, the upscale shopping district, where women strut their stuff like models on a runway. Here you'll realize that women in this city are not only in tune with the beat of the nation, but they are not afraid to take the lead. Chunxi Road was first built in 1924 as a hub of commerce. The name comes from a line in a poem that describes the hustle and bustle of commercial activity. Newly renovated Chunxi Road is a web of pedestrian streets that occupy 20 hectares and provide 220,000 sq m of shopping. Both domestic and global brands from some 700 stores compete for the attention of the fashionable. It rivals Shanghai's Nanjing Road in the breath of name-brand retailers. A few years ago, the magazine New Weekly rated Chunxi Road No 3 in China's shopping streets, after only Hong Kong's Causeway Bay and Shanghai's Nanjing Road. It used six yardsticks in its evaluation: attractiveness, gourmet food, convenience, leisure, popularity and sales volume. Attractiveness refers to the presence of beautiful women who frequent the shoppers' paradise, often called "the first street in southwestern China". Women in this town know how to look their best. Someone organized a beauty contest in the early years of reform and thousands - aged from 16 to 80 - showed up as contestants. Many looked 10 years younger than their actual age. Beauty is not something people in the metropolis or province want to hide. Another place where "beauty watching" has become a favorite pastime is its ubiquitous bars. A local saying confesses that residents are "either in a bar or on their way to a bar". Along the river near Sichuan University, bars with distinctive dcor stand in a row, some boisterous, some quiet and contemplative, others funky. Whatever your mood, you can find a suitable site offering libations. Men come here to test their resistance to temptation as the presence of beautiful women, beautiful music and intoxicating drinks may combine in the right atmosphere for amorous adventures. Chengdu has a full spectrum of offerings, from the most traditional to the most up-to-date. Just as spicy food is not the only delicious choice of gourmet, feminine beauty is not the only reason to explore and enjoy this city of myriad charms.

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