A photo of the author in an ultra fashionable clothing shop in central Chengdu.
Over the years, I have seen Chengdu, Sichuan's golden capital, grow into one of the most exciting, dynamic and prosperous cities on the planet.
Chengdu is also a melting pot now, for people from all over China and the world. They come here to work, live and prosper to make the city a symbol of the concerted government effort to bring the nation's great economic advancement and achievement to western China.
Chengdu teems with life, culture, sophistication and diversity. With the largest building on the entire planet in terms of floor area — the extraordinary New Century Global Center — magnificent ancient Taoist monasteries in the city's west, quiet inner city vistas, female Buddhist monasteries and grand monuments to its socialist heritage, Chengdu has a character like no other city I have lived in or visited.
My first encounter with Chengdu happened more than 13 years ago on my way to a great teaching position in the beautiful city of Leshan, only an hour from Chengdu by train. Overall I spent about five years living in the Chengdu area over a number of different years.
Sichuan people are gifted with a great sense of verve, loyalty and patriotism. They are proud of Deng Xiaoping, the revered Chinese leader, who came from Sichuan.
A huge variety of ethnic cultures thrives alongside the Sichuan people. It is a polylingual industrious society of great vigor and visual splendor. Chengdu has built a massive skyline that constantly reminds me of the vast wealth the city has attained. This wealth meshes well with another timeless treasure - Sichuan culture.
There are also smaller cities within the greater Chengdu metro area, particularly in the west. These satellite cities, some with 600,000 people or more, are brilliantly developed with top-rate housing, parks and infrastructure. We had friends in Chongzhou, and for a time I taught at a primary school. there After my first day of work, as I headed toward the front gate to leave, hundreds of students ran to greet me. I was shocked. Never in my life had I experienced such strong feelings of friendship. It moved me to tears.
This overwhelming sweetness is representative of Sichuan culture and Sichuan people. Chengdu itself, where I also worked at universities, is a major education hub. Sichuan University is becoming internationally famous for its teaching and research. This university is backed by many other excellent colleges and universities, which offer incredible opportunities.
International students, especially from Asia and Africa, flock to Chengdu, hearing of its greatness. Pupils from all corners of the globe also study Chinese medicine at the world-famous Sichuan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
I would regularly go to this university to seek knowledge from academics and students, as part of my academic training is in complementary alternative medicine. One of my close friends in Chengdu was a 78-year-old Chinese medicine doctor who initially treated me. I would often spend the afternoon in his old clinic talking medicine. He knew everything, and even cured his own lung cancer.
Chengdu has preserved its heritage and classic Chinese architecture during its development. This balances well with the vast skyscrapers. East Chengdu has also grown tremendously over the years, with many giant developments, but has maintained its traditional style.
I grew to love West Chengdu, and often used the Chengdu-Dujiangyan High Speed Railway to visit the historic site of Mount Qingcheng, one of the most important centers for Taoism in China and the world. Dujiangyan itself, a classically styled Chengdu satellite, has been brilliantly preserved.
Other major areas, such as the fashion and shopping centers around Chunxi Road in downtown Chengdu, have an awesome vibe. Luxury stores and boutique shops abound, mixed with tasteful Chinese culture shops, museums, art venues and endless cafes, of international and Chinese persuasion.
Undergirding all this progress is socialism with Chinese characteristics, the very foundation of Chengdu's success. It is this philosophy that permeates all of China, and that is the real basis for Chengdu becoming what it is today.
Everywhere you look, socialism is thriving and building a better society. Amazing highways, multi-story expressways, brilliant public schools with loving and caring teachers, a promotion of family virtues, public housing for those who need it, lightning-fast trains connecting Chengdu to all of China, an extraordinary metro system, fresh vegetables and fruit markets bringing in produce from lush green farmland, outstanding world-class universities, an excellent bus system, clean and safe streets with helpful police, job opportunities and a myriad of other infrastructure, including top public hospitals.
And perhaps most importantly, China's powerful State-owned enterprises, all of whom make vast financial, industrial and social contributions to China, are strongly represented in Chengdu. They are a powerhouse of Chinese socialist industry that contributes to Chengdu's vast success.
In addition, there are hundreds of foreign companies from countries from all over the world. These companies inject huge capital and ideas from across the globe, acting as an interflow for world trade. Mix this with Sichuan's utterly unique culture, and the result is brilliant.
Chengdu has a great climate. It's not too hot or cold, and surrounded by a fertile countryside. The utterly modern airport, one of the busiest on the planet, serves as a gateway into a stunning city, shooting for the stars. Chengdu is Chinese communist success in action, and a model for the world.