Postcards from Chengdu 

A statue of Chairman Mao Zedong looks over Tianfu Square, in the center of Chengdu.

A statue of Chairman Mao Zedong looks over Tianfu Square, in the center of Chengdu.

Chendgu is the provincial capital of Sichuan province, which is known for its spicy food.

Chendgu is the provincial capital of Sichuan province, which is known throughout the world for its spicy food.

Chengdu is well know for its street food. Here, a vendor sells snacks at a restaurant on Jinli Pedestrian Street, a popular tourist site.

A vendor sells snacks at a restaurant on Jinli Pedestrian Street, a popular tourist area.

The entrance to a temple fair, held to celebrate Chinese New Year.  2015 is the Year of the Sheep.

The entrance to a temple fair, held to celebrate Chinese New Year. 2015 is the Year of the Sheep.

Vendors from western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region sell lamb skewers at the temple fair.

Vendors from western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region sell lamb skewers at the temple fair.

The city at night. With 14 million people, Chengdu is the largest city in Sichuan province.

With 14 million people, Chengdu is the largest city in Sichuan province.

The panda is the national animal of China, and there’s no shortage of shops in Chengdu selling stuffed toys, T-shirts and coffee mugs featuring the animal.

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Scenery unforgettable; the camera bag, not so much

I’ve traveled enough that preparing for a trip has become routine. The night before I leave, I make sure essential items have already been packed. Plenty of clean underwear. Passport. Cellphone charger. ATM card. Digital SLR camera.

I sleep easier knowing that when I wake up the following morning, all I have to worry about is brushing my teeth (never optional) and showering (sometimes optional).

For Chinese New Year, I traveled to Yangshuo (阳朔), a county in southern China’s Guangxi (广西)Zhuang Autonomous Region. Because of its unique landscape, Guangxi is a place I’d been wanting to visit ever since I moved to China. The province’s karst peaks give it an otherworldly feel. Continue reading