In the midst of the Qing Dynasty, there already stood this slabstone-paved lane in Chengdu, a bustling lane in the Middle Kingdom where bilateral trade of decorative Chinese textile and silk cloth flourished. After its refurbishment during 2004, this Jinli Street seldom loses its alluring glory, but becomes a must-visit tourist magnet and continues to prosper just like its heydays.
Here, even when the sun drowned and darkness cloaked, rarely would the visitors’ enthusiasm be chilled yet instead invigorated by their increasingly crowded gatherings. Being a part of the Temple of Marquis, such 550-metre meandering area is amply fashioned with folklore of the Shu Kingdom starting in about A.D. 220. Crimson columns of antique shops were touting multifarious souvenirs, featuring tempting handicrafts by Qiang minorities, cute panda cushions, traditional paper-cuts and calligraphies, you name it. All those one-of-a-kind products, handy yet intriguing, offered us a fair glimpse of Sichuan’s food and living customs. How could I not purchase a set of appealing postcards of travel attractions for reference? Across the grey brick road, the already buzzing atmosphere was further filled with people’s chit-chat sounds and the aroma of freshly-made food like mapo tofu, red bean buns and rice cake. It was enjoyable to taste some mouth-watering snacks with the laid-back locals, have a cosy seat besides cups of fragrant Chinese tea in the bamboo teahouses or even cappuccino in the wooden Starbucks café. Despite the harmonious coexistence with western elements in the old-fashioned buildings, its real charm still lies in both sides’ romantic scenery. Strolling along this cobblestone lane just like flocks of travellers, you will soon be enraptured by those lines of beautiful red lanterns on each eave of temple-like buildings. Under the presence of hanging lanterns and dim shadows of fir trees, the view of small bridge and clear waters in the classical garden just left us an rosy impression of primitive beauty. All the above glances, with mixture of both original and modern, polish its vibrant images of brilliance and give this area somewhat an otherworldly feel.
With relaxing backdrop of the surge of pedestrians, as well as China’s traditional architecture in the heart of Chengdu, Jinli Ancient Street can be regarded as an ideal paradise to loosen up and chill out after a day of work. There, you will soon fall in love with this colourfully magnificent lane, a lane where you might have seen from the postcard before, but now in front of your own eyes, gazed with surprise and wowed with amazement. ♦