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June 14, 2017

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The Tibetan Quarter in Chengdu is a great blend of tradition and modern

MANY tourists in China find themselves in a dilemma of having to choose from the many places to visit once they realize the geographical proportions of the country that gave birth to equally enormous cultural diversity.

If you do not have the time or resources to go to Tibet, head to Chengdu in Sichuan Province to understand a little of the practical forms of Tibetan Buddhism. You can have a genuine encounter with the locals and see what they like, eat, wear and relate to and find the synesthesia between Han ethnicity and the Tibetan culture, exhibiting Chinese multiculturalism.

Chengdu is known as the city of pandas because of the hugely visited Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. However, there are more attractions and mysteries hidden among these ancient streets.

A traveler will quickly notice the presence of Tibetan culture. Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, is known as the gateway city to the Tibetan plateau. On the opposite side, many Tibetans come to the city to live, study and make purchases.

An important tourist attraction, the Tibetan Quarter, rests near one of the most famous temples in the city, the Wuhou Temple, and opposite to the ancestral street called Jinli. Two main perpendicular streets make up most of the region, a colorful local trade that suggests festivities and spirituality.

The Tibetan Quarter is located at the intersection of the Wuhouci Heng and Wuhouci Dong streets. Around this area, visitors can have their first contact with this unique culture.

The Tibetan culture once stretched till Sichuan and the remnants of that blend grace Chengdu.

The modest neighborhood maintains a regular market of shops replete with the religious identity of these people. It is possible to find everything that would be inside a house in Lhasa.

A quick stroll through the neighborhood and you will find Tibetans buying tapestries and cushions to warm up the cold, snowy nights of the Tibetan highlands.

The golden statues of the gods, from the tiny ones to the ones that can cover an entire enclosure, impress visitors and many orders will serve temples and rituals.

The monks that roam the streets covet the flags with prayers and sutras, incenses and stickers of sacred symbols. The traditional clothes, usually in dark red and yellow, can also be tailor-made.

Precious stones are also found here. Silver, jade, turquoise and Tibetan coral are some of the stones that make up the necklaces and Tibetan japa mala (religious threads). It is part of the game of commerce to bargain that greatly brings down the prices.

Informal commerce comes from the neighboring provinces bringing tea, yak meat (one of the main ingredients of Tibetan cuisine), butter, yogurt and other typical, often organic, spices.

Families normally consume these products, and they are seen throughout the neighborhood taking care of the children, talking on the street and buying day-to-day products.

Famous restaurants have been in the region for many decades and are known for their diverse menu of simple yet fresh flavors.

One of them is the Are Tibetan on Wuhouci Street. It offers typical food including the famous butter tea and Tibetan hotpot with bull’s tongue and vegetables in their ingredients.

The restaurant offers many dishes with yak, lamb and pork meat, where they can be mixed with leek in fried pancakes, stuffed in meat pies or with mushrooms and beans. We can find Tibetan monks and families feasting on the popular Tibetan dumplings — momos.

Traditional and modern are evident everywhere, and visitors can find people wearing modern and ancient clothes sharing the same table and using their cellphones. For both Chinese and foreign tourists, the Tibetan Quarter is a pleasant opportunity to feel the cultural traditions and modernity walking hand in hand.


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