The Tuscany Of China Chengdu Reviews
Nov 03, 2007
Chengdu has forged sister city ties with at least ten foreign cities in nations such as - Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Slovenia, and Sweden. It has also developed trade, culture exchange, and cooperation with more than one hundred & fifty countries and regions. As a result, thousands of foreign enterprises have chosen to set up shop in what is fast becoming the economic capital of west China. One of the sister cities is Montpellier. David Tabacznyj was born and raised in an old Roman city, close by in southern France. The French people say that Chengdu is charming and has a taste of the south, so it is referred to as “The Tuscany of China”.
According to David, there are more pioneering opportunities available here. This is one of the reasons why the Sichuan capital was chosen as the desired place to make a comeback to in China, upon his most recent return in early September 2005. Previously, he had been in Beijing for more than three years, studying Chinese and philosophy. Whenever back working in Paris, his heart pined for the world’s most populous country. A position as managing director of a French company was secured in a different mainland province. But after a year and a half, a decision was made to quit that job to travel all over the extensive motherland of Confucius – in search of a place to settle.
This adventurous China odyssey led to the only city that has never changed its name and site, since it was established three thousand years ago. The Frenchman was supposed to be further south, and was only going to be in Chengdu for a couple of days. The harmony and tolerance of the locality and its inhabitants, beckoned him to hang around for ten times longer. It is difficult to exactly pinpoint what it was that infatuated the enamoured outsider. Perhaps, it was simply being able to understand the dialect, or go trekking whenever he pleased. Nevertheless, an immediate affection emerged in the historical birthplace of tea culture, prior to the continuation of a four season Far East escapade.
Missing beloved Chengdu from afar, prompted David to post a lot of internet messages on French websites and travel forums. He openly advised that he had some cash to invest, and wanted to start a business. His main point was to have a good life; not to make a huge amount of money. Expressions of interest were sought from anyone who had an enterprising notion, but nobody did. Lots of people asked for inane travel advice, such as what sort of raincoat or shoes to wear. Perseverance paid off. Eventually, a young French woman wrote, “Everybody is giving you stupid advice or answers. I want to tell you that I live in Chengdu, and maybe I want to do something with some money that I have.”
To be considered reliable is the truest mark of friendliness. Chloe and David firstly met via the information super highway. They exchanged ideas and points of views in cyberspace. One day - out of the blue - Chloe Pahud sent a message saying, “What are you doing? You are just like the others. You talk, but do not do anything!” Little did she realize that when her words were read, the intended recipient had already arrived back in Chengdu. A defining moment of truth presented itself. David calmly telephoned and announced, “Okay. I am in front of your apartment. Let’s talk. Now, it is serious.” In the natural course of things, their commercial plans and partnership developed.
For the next six months, multi-lingual David taught English and French as foreign languages, while meeting people and talking about business opportunities. Chloe was really interested in interior decoration. She needed to cultivate connections in those circles. One practical way to do this, was to join David in achieving an ambition to open Le Café Panam(e) on the second floor of the Blue Caribbean Plaza Kehua BeiLu 143 - across the road from the SOHO building. It is easy to detect when looking around inside, who is responsible for the elegantly tasteful decor. David did however recommend a number of blue lamp shades, which in Feng Shui parlance, represent calm and balance.
Before construction and opening of Le Café Panam(e), the pair of associates frequented many various other cafes, bars and coffee houses in Chengdu. Without much need for conscious reasoning or study, they seemed to intuitively know that conventionality would not be permitted to intimidate or impede the quality or character of their own imaginations. It was easy to recognize what designs did not appeal in terms of attractiveness. A bistro in France is usually a coffee house during the day. There are coffee tables and a long service bar. The mood changes at night when a different clientele comes. David’s Chinese is not perfect, but he can comfortably make himself understood.
Since commencing trade, there has been plenty of encouragement and feedback received from resident Sichuanese patrons. At first, there could have been some slight reluctance or nervousness by newcomers, but this phenomenon dissipated rapidly because of the ready willingness of the owners and local staff to always warmly welcome guests of all nationalities. About three hundred people constitute the French expatriate community in Chengdu. This includes those connected with the representative Consulate General’s office situated over at Times Plaza, the twenty or so big major French companies, as well as twenty five to thirty students studying business from the sister city of Montpellier.
Undoubtedly, one of the great monuments of the world is the Eiffel Tower. This icon of national pride was captured through the lens of a young Chengdu man, whilst working in Paris not too long ago. It has been encased in three separate picture frames, and now gloriously adorns the most prominent wall of Le Café Panam(e).A video and sound projection system is available for other cultural activities, such as wine tasting by the British Chamber of Commerce, and a recent American exhibition. A French Corner is held every Friday night from 7.30 to 9pm.There is no entry fee. However, it is expected that attendees observe the Tuscany practice of consuming at least a glass of tea or beer.
Expatriate writer Warren Rodwell has been in China since 2002, and teaches university postgraduates in Chengdu. Many of his feature stories, reviews & photographs have been published online or in hardcopy media form. Warren also narrates documentaries and administers various websites as part of his efforts to promote Chengdu & Sichuan culture(s) more globally.
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