Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to discuss the destinations open for travel now, and to learn more about coronavirus travel safety, new COVID-19 hotel policies and future trip-planning advice, inspiration and other ideas.Until recently, what I knew about Chengdu, the capital Sichuan Province at China’s southwestern flank, could be summed up as pandas and peppercorns. A chance encounter last summer with a trio of Chinese Millennials in a swimming pool at the foot of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains inspired me to dive into this futuristic metropolis. The young ladies live in Shanghai and Beijing but raved about this city of 16 million inhabitants: “It’s the style-setter for central China,” they explained, and has the country’s highest per capita spending on luxury goods. One click on WeChat, China’s version of WhatsApp, connected me with their friend Vengo, a 20-something fashion producer, DJ and Chengduite (by choice), who calls his adoptive city “China’s truest melting pot—where you can just be yourself.” The thousand-plus miles separating Chengdu from China’s central government in Beijing helps to explain that freedom, apparent in the decidedly non-Communist looks by Miu Miu and Balenciaga parading past on my first morning. I wait for Vengo in front of Astromantic, a Crayola-bold street art project from Chengdu-born, Sorbonne-educated artist Fansack, who explores the astronaut hurling towards the unknown as a metaphor for China’s breakneck speed of change. It was commissioned last spring by The Temple House, the Make Architects-designed boutique hotel perched in central Chengdu’s Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li shopping district alongside Daci Temple, a crimson-hued Buddhist relic with a classical Chinese wingtipped roofline, which dates back one thousand years. These neutral textiles-meet-darkened-wood digs were already Chengdu’s standout sleep spot when a recently introduced vegan hot pot menu turned the hotel’s heritage era Mi Xun Teahouse into the eatery of choice for Chengdu fashionistas. Also worth tasting is the Sichuan Negroni at the hotel’s Jing Bar, made with Osmanthus-infused gin and Sichuan peppercorn–infused Campari.
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