My First Impressions: Chengdu


Before I even left for China, people were telling me that I was in for the biggest culture shock of my life. I was ready to feel extremely uncomfortable, scared, out of place; basically a mixture of all feelings of uneasiness.

Yet, that wasn’t the case—at least not for me. Several days ago marked one month of me being in Chengdu, surrounded and fully immersed in a place where I am not able to communicate with the people. You would think, and I would’ve thought too, that I would have an overwhelming feeling of, “Wow.. I am actually living in China!” But that feeling has yet to happen.

Don’t get me wrong though, I am not downplaying my experience in China thus far.. I have had an absolute blast! I wanted to leave the States in order to better myself and do all of that “soul-searching” stuff that people who travel talk so much about. I wanted to escape the restraints that were put on me by others and myself while I was living in Los Angeles.

Escaping to a new city where no one has any expectations from me and nobody has any pre-conceived notions of me is, excuse the cliché, priceless.

Now that I have explained my general feelings towards my move, let’s get down to my nitty gritty first impressions of Chengdu:

The People

For the most part, the people are like what I expected. Aside from the stares that I often times get, being a foreign girl and all, the Chinese tend to keep to themselves. When I do interact with them, they seem to be pretty accepting of me and even laugh when I obviously look a little confused on how to say something. I’ve also surprisingly managed to not be taken advantage of and ripped off… yet.

With all of that said there are several things that I can’t stand about the people here. One is the constant spitting. On the sidewalk, in restaurants, right in front of you; they have no shame to just hock a lougie wherever they see fit!

I’m also not a huge fan of what I would call a mixture of lack of a personal bubble and lack of care for acknowledging your presence when you are walking arounds. If I had a dollar for every time I almost got hit by a car or eBike.. I could buy myself a personal driver so I wouldn’t have to walk the god forsaken sidewalks ever again. The days of carelessly texting while I walk are gone, unless I am looking to get run over.

The last, most god awful, disgusting habit that I will never get used to is how the Chinese let their children pee and poop wherever. Literally, their children aren’t humans.. they’re like pets! Not only that but to aid in their disgusting habit, the children where these pants that are split so that if they need to go to the bathroom they can just go. Which means you have to be extra careful when trying to not step in a puddle because you can never be sure if it is actually a puddle of water..

The Food

The province that Chengdu is located in is called Sichuan. Sichuan is  known for having some of the best food in China. In my opinion, it is too oily and spicy for me.

The Sichuan pepper that everyone uses is so extremely spicy that it ruins any meal! My friends say I will grow to like it.. but I really don’t see that happening.

Yet there is one kind of food here that I am very much a fan of. It is called Xiao Kao and it is a type of BBQ that the Chinese cook up, usually on the side of the streets. It’s not the healthiest but I know I can always find veggies and tofu at these kind of places. Not to mention it is so extremely delicious and if I have a friend with me that can speak Chinese, it doesn’t have to be so darn spicy! My stomach appreciates this!

Another plus side to Chengdu’s food is that it has bakeries everywhere! If you know me, you know I have the biggest sweet tooth.. in the world.. ever. It is so hard for me to see one of these bakeries and not go in to buy everything they have! When I do get a little sweet treat from one, my favorite pastry is an egg tart. Flaky and sweet.. these thing are SO GOOD! Seriously, a must try if you ever go to Asia!

My thoughts on Chengdu could keep going but I’m going to spare you all the long post and break it up. Expect a Part II to this down the road!


Have you ever been to  Chengdu? What were your favorite aspects? Your least?

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Recent Comments

  • Joan Ashton
    08/26/2014 - 2:47 am · Reply

    Hi Kirstie, I’m your moms friend from Florida. I loved seeing the pictures and reading about your experience there in china. I was one of those who would say, why in the world would you want to go there – after all the things you hear about. So it’s really interesting to read about your experiences and see the pictures you are posting. Keep it up ! And thanks for sharing!

  • Rebekah
    09/19/2014 - 3:39 pm · Reply

    That’s great! I love Chengdu, I live about 90 minutes south of there but escape to the city to get some western culture when I need it. Everyone loves Chengdu, its so much chiller then other Chinese cities. Hopefully you do get used to the spice… it is in everything. I love it though, especially on the cold dreary days, spicy noodles are the best. Are you going to live there? Teaching English? Good luck!

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