In stark contrast to the fast-paced life of Shanghai that I’d come to know in my first two weeks back in China, Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, holds a different philosophy. Located in the heart of Southwest China, Chengdu is famous for its pandas, Buddhist temples, spicy food, morning tea, and relaxed lifestyle. When you leave the local restaurants or coffee shops, the workers won’t say 再见 (pinyin: zai jian, English: Goodbye). Instead, they’ll say 慢走 （pinyin: man zuo, English: walk slowly). As one of my Chinese friends from Guizhou province explained to me, the idea of walking slowly is deeply ingrained in Southwest Chinese culture. Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, and Chongqing share similar cultures and similar local languages. If you ask Chinese people from other provinces what they think about the people in Sichuan, they may say that Sichuan people are very lazy. Laziness, however, is a matter of perspective.
Last week, I met a man in his mid-forties in Shanghai whose heart needed monitoring. Most of the businessmen I’ve encountered in the KTV in Shanghai were looking for a little relaxation, but they weren’t sure how to relax. Not so in Sichuan. The people of Chengdu know how to enjoy their lives.
Though I have traveled to more than 10 countries and lived in more than 25 cities around the world, Chengdu was the first city that made me want to settle down. I’m told that many people feel this way about Chengdu. I still plan to travel but I want to always return to Chengdu.