Chengdu Living’s Best of 2012
As the year draws to a close and we welcome 2013, I’ve been thinking about change we’ve seen in Chengdu over the last year. As expected, the transformation of Chengdu continues as the city hurtles toward modernity. Life in Chengdu is not like it used to be – the city is larger, more connected, and features emerging sub-cultures like it never did before. Exciting times in one of the world’s fastest growing cities.
Without further ado, here are the best of 2012 posts on Chengdu Living.
Five Most Talked-About Posts
There was a lot of talk about protests in Chengdu in 2012. We’ve seen huge protests before, but these were over a relatively new-found beef that China has with Japan. This post, authored by Sascha, probed the opinion of average Chinese people and took a look at their relationship to the mainstream cause of Japanese opposition. As is often the case, things are not as they might seem on the surface.
When Troy Parfitt’s book Why China Will Never Rule the World was released, I was immediately drawn in by the bold title. I mentioned it in a post on the Chengdu Forumand months later, Troy emailed me and offered to do an interview. I reviewed my highlights from his book in preparation and then sent off some difficult questions. Troy responded with detailed and reflective replies, and then engaged some thoughtful commenters in civilized debate over some very controversial issues. The comments on this thread alone are over 15,000 words and are among the most civilized and substantial we’ve ever hosted.
As Eli stated in this post published in October, friends both overseas and in Chengdu often ask us to make broad distinctions between our home countries and China. It can be difficult to make these kind of generalizations without offending or confusing some, but they’re all around us. Dozens of commenters offered additional differences between China and their home country and offered commentary on Eli’s picks.
This post, a followup to 2011’s Enduring the China Blues, was partly inspired by the highly-publicized departure of two well-known foreigners in China. We’ve all had to deal with the hardships on China, and we’ve all questioned our presence here. Often we feel a sense of excitement and privilege to be participants in the cultural and literal growth of Chengdu, but other times, the third-world side of China just gets to us. Sascha talked about these and other common China expat plights in the second “China Blues” post.
Traffic in Chengdu has grown to become a great threat to the traditionally-high livability of the city. We’ve written about traffic and the implicationsit has on development of the city, but this post offered practical advice on getting around the city on a bicycle. Overall 2012 has been a big year for Chengdu’s cyclists, as the cycling sub-culture has been emerging in a way that we haven’t seen before in the city. I’ve adopted a bicycle as a primary mode of transportation and many of my friends have as well. In short, the Psykling in Chengdu post addressed a problem that a growing number of people in Chengdu can relate to.
Five of Our Favorites From 2012
In addition to the most talked-about posts, there are some that we look back on with particular admiration. They either signaled a change in Chengdu or in ourselves, or were otherwise near and dear to us. These are those.
Eli’s account of living with his to-be mother-in-law published in November was honest, endearing, and insightful. It beautifully conveyed the convergence of traditional and modern Chinese culture, and what happens when you introduce a foreigner into the mix.
In the summer of 2012 I was contacted while in California and invited to perform at the Big Love Music Festival in Chengdu, which was claimed to be the biggest festival ever hosted in Western China. It turned out to be a catastrophe of historic proportions.
In the fall of 2012 I heard that a pair of Americans, Jacob Klink and Larry Adamson, were opening a custom bicycle shop in Chengdu. On the eve of the shop’s opening in the South of Chengdu I interviewed Jacob and learned about Chengdu’s emerging movement of urban cyclists.
With her unique knowledge of Chengdu’s art scene, Tabitha has amassed a collection of posts illuminating local Chengdu artists. In 2012 she wrote about Chengdu’s experimental art scene as well as prominent local painters like Luo Fahui and He Duoling in addition to expat artists like Will Kerr.
Nearly everyone in China wants a car, so what’s being down about its exploding traffic problem? Sascha answers this question and more as he explores what local and regional authorities are doing to lessen the crunch on China’s roadways.
Best of the Chengdu Forum
The Chengdu Forum grew by leaps and bounds in 2012 to become the largest body of information on Chengdu by a large margin. By the numbers, it’s nearing 15,000 posts! Some of the outstanding threads:
A precursor of sorts to Eli’s post about cultural differences between the US and China. Hundreds of contributors to this thread.
This thread, created by forum member AM, transformed from a search for football players into world-class trash talking between two competing teams in Chengdu.
A thread created with up-to-date music recommendations that drew suggestions and commentary from dozens of forum members.
An in-depth discussion of everything you need to know about buying a motorcycle, getting licensed, and riding in Chengdu.
This thread featured dozens of China book recommendations and later led to the interview with Troy Parfitt, author of Why China Will Never Rule the World.
This thread turned into an epic pizza battle. When Mike himself stepped in to defend himself, it got really exciting.
It turns out that most of us really like steak. This thread led to recommendations, directions, photos, and even hand drawn maps of how to locate steak vendors inside the Qingshi Bridge market in Chengdu.
Tips, tricks, and analysis on keeping your lungs healthy in Chengdu.
In-depth discussion of the Diaoyu island controversy as it went down in Chengdu.
Launch of Chengdu Places
In addition to the blog, 2012 saw the birth of Chengdu Places, the geolocation-based guide to places worth visiting in Chengdu. With new places added weekly and each listing including detailed information like location photos, Chengdu Places is expected to triple in size in 2013. Currently features 60+ locations but this is just the beginning.
Looking Toward 2013
We can’t wait to see what happens in Chengdu over the next year. Based on how much things changed in 2012, we can hardly imagine what the city will look like after another twelve months. Thanks for reading Chengdu Living in 2012!