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David Gilkey

A Photographer's First Impression

NPR videographer David Gilkey has arrived in Chengdu. He's working to create the videos and slideshows to go along with the special week of coverage from the Chinese city planned for May 19-23 on All Things Considered.

Michael Jackson Chengdu teahouse

A painting of Michael Jackson hangs on a wall outside of a tea house in the Kuan Xiang area of Chengdu China. The small side street is undergoing a transformation to preserve the historical look and traditional feel of an ancient Chinese city. The construction boom in China seldom gives way to the preservation of old chinese architecture. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

toggle caption David Gilkey, NPR
Tian Fu Square Chengdu

A group of men visiting Tian Fu Square in the heart of Chengdu, China stand in front of a statue of Mao Tse-tung which overlooks the plaza in front of the Sichuan Science and Technology Museum. Visitors to Chengdu can stroll through the square which is filled with sculptures and fountains to get a break from the busy sreets of Chengdu. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

toggle caption David Gilkey, NPR
Tian Fu Square Chengdu

Businessmen wait for the traffic to clear before crossing the street in downtown Chengdu China Monday afternoon. Chengdu is known for having a slightly more relaxed way of life compared to other major Chinese cities. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

toggle caption David Gilkey, NPR



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More and more people in China are trying to know something about Western culture. This curiousity is alive especially in people born in 1980s. I am one of them!

Knowing various views in different cultures, regions, and countries is really exciting. Meanwhile, considering the global development, it is beneficial for us to know more, in Culture, Economy, Arts, Politics, and even Sports.

But we haven't thought about Michael Jackson for years, at least by people I know.

We tend to pay attention now to Angelina Jolie, Blake Ross and so on. Ms. Jolie has a has a beautiful appearance and she devotse herself to charity, while Blake Ross depended on talent, opportunity and diligence for his career.

Sent by jqw730 | 1:45 AM | 4-15-2008

Did you know that the city name - Chengdu -- has been used for 2000 years? A lot of other cities in China have changed names over the centuries. Chengdu has a very glorious history.

Though she is a giant city, Chengdu's easy-going lifestyle has gone through a long, long, long time. Just like the Panda...:))

Have fun...

Sent by moss | 4:01 AM | 4-15-2008

Please do go to JiuZhaiGou. It's the heaven of photographers.

If you want to capture the life of the local people, it's better to go to BaiHuaTan Park, XinHua Park, and WenHua Park on the weekend. All the Chengdu parks are free.

If you wish to experience Buddhism, the best choice is Wenshu temple.

If you want to sit down and have some drinks in the evening, you can go to Lotus Palace bar on Jinli road. You can get a cocktail for only 35RMB.

Besides tea, Majiang is popular in Chengdu. It is a kind of chess played by four people at a square table. People are play it for fun, but never for gambling.

Sent by Song Qiuying | 8:01 AM | 4-15-2008

While it is true that the pictures displayed are taken in Chengdu, I have to say that it is the author's subjective impression that Chengdu, as an ancient Chinese city, should look old and shabby.

My parents live two blocks away from Kuan Xiang (one of the pictures shown in this posting), in a newly renovated 30-plus-story apartment building and there are many similar modern buildings around. Showing Kuang Xiang along without its highly modern and fast growing neighborhood is showing people partial facts about the city.

While I took sympathy to the author's "looking for a story" attitude, to a Chinese audience its as if you showed us Harlem and said "that is New York City." It's true, but limited, information.

As a native of Chengdu, and educated and living in US for over 10 years, I hope you can keep your jounalism as neutral as possible. A journalist's mission is to deliver full information to people. Sometimes, the most powerful lie is to show people partial facts without further explanation.

Sent by Kathy Yan | 12:01 AM | 4-16-2008

To Kathy:

I have different perception about these reports here.

I would say what is shown in the pictures are part of the routine life people are living. A high rise building may look good, but it doesn't make Chengdu different than other cities. I guess NPR's purpose is to cover Chengdu in a broad spectrum to reflect the transformation of the whole society. This blog accounts for only a small portion of the full story. Why don't we let them do their job and wait and see how our hometown looks like in their eyes?

Sent by C. Liang | 5:00 PM | 4-16-2008

Majiang is popular in Chengdu. It is a kind of chess played by four people at a square table. People are play it for fun, -- but "never" for gambling.


It's fun to play, and really challenging to keep up with the pace of locals, but let's be honest; Mah Jongg is played for money, and sometimes for very large sums of money

Sent by Bocaj | 6:56 AM | 4-17-2008

"slightly more relaxed way of life" ? hehe, Chengdu natives proudly claim they are in the capital of leisure and relaxation in China. And many people I talked to who's not from Chengdu agree with this and saying so with certain expression of admiration and longing on their faces. :)

Once I met a British guy in Germany who spent some time in Chengdu. He kept telling me how much he liked that place.

Sent by Ji (a Chengdu native) , Schaumburg, IL | 11:27 PM | 5-14-2008