Friends around the World, welcome to my adopted city; Mianyang. I have lived here since 2003.
Mianyang is the second city of Sichuan with a population of 1.1m in the city proper and over 1.7 in the built up area. Mianyang controls an area of over 20,000km2 which is about the same size of Wales. This District has close to 5m citizens. It is over 2000 years old. Locals speak Sichuanese with a Mianyang accent. It is approximately 80% Mandarin but spoken rapidly and often rather loudly. Few speak English, especially those one needs to: taxi drivers; hotel and restaurant workers. Younger locals are more likely to as everywhere.
Mianyang is approximately 110kms from Chengdu, the Provincial Capital and a megacity of perhaps 12m.
In 2006 Mianyang was reckoned the third best city to live in out of 600 cities. It is an advance city with a fully developed infrastructure and almost everything ‘works’. It has the highest per capita income in all Western China including, Chengdu, Xian and Chongqing; because of the hi-tech salaries.
There is little left of old buildings within the city limits and most buildings date from the 1980s until the present… 2015.
There is a new airport which flies to 20 cities in China and the new, fast railway to Chengdu and on to Chongqing. To Chengdu takes just 40 minutes. Going North the tracks are laid to Guanyuan and will go all the way to Xian. It will be spectacular.
Mianyang is mostly flat with low hills surrounding 2 sides and at an elevation of almost 500 metres. It is very good for cyclists with most roads having cycle lanes. There are ’stations’ everywhere with 3000 rental bikes .Mountains can be seen up to 6000m on the horizon.
As the first Science and Technology City in China there is no polluting industry. Everything is hi-tech. Mianyang is reckoned the cleanest and safest city in all China. Winds come mostly from the nearby Himalayas. One can swim in the main river and 100s do. The water in the taps is drinkable although few drink it. Therefore safe to swallow in the shower etc.
There are 6 universities and several colleges and many science institutes. It is said that Mianyang is China’s most educated city with the highest percentage of graduates. The largest paying, English language school in the world is here: The Children’s Palace. It has approximately 18,000 children on weekends.
China’s atomic industry was developed in Mianyang and the ‘bomb’ was developed here but in huge, man-made caves under the nearby mountains.
There are many parks and the central People’s Park is especially pleasant. On the city limits is a large resevoir/lake with islands, cycle paths, restaurants and boating etc. One park has 50 restaurants set amongst the lanes and woodland. There are huge groves of peach and other fruit tress. Lao Long Shan.
Along the rivers is a new, cycle-cum-pedestrian pathway. Perhaps 30 kms long and with areas for recreation beside it.
There are many temples and viewpoints amongst the parks. There are many swimming pools and sports centres. There is a football stadium which can have up to 30,000 for music concerts etc.
There are some 10,000 places to eat which start with the small, cheap, family places to the smartest, gourmet restaurants. Sichuan Hotpot and BBQ are famous.
For some there are 8 KFCs; 3 McDonalds; 2 Haagen-Dazs; 4 Pizza Huts and 2 Starbucks. Plus several other western-style eateries. Wal-Mart has 5 outlets albeit with a limited choice of foreign foods. Soon, a second, enormous Wanda mall will open.There are 150 bars and several nightclubs. Plus 500 KTVs… can that be true? 2 Western bakeries have opened and 100 juice bars. A recent addition are real, coffee houses. Note: check the % on beer bottles. Snow beer in restaurants is normally 2.5% but can be stronger. Beware: Bai Jiu the white spirit can be 58% and usually is. There are several food halls with up to 20 eateries in each.
There are several cinemas including an I Max which can show 3D films.
Hotels range from 70rmb a night to ….. a lot, at the big hotels. Taxis (over 2000) start at 4 or 5rmb and are certainly cheap. Buses are subsidised at 1-2rmb per ride and there are a 1000 pedicabs.
Winters are short and dry and summers are hot and muggy….. the hottest was 40c… once. Spring and Autumn are far more pleasant. One can easily go to the nearby mountains to be cooler.
There might be 100 westerners within the city and most are teaching. There are many passing through visiting the engineering, electronic and other hi-tech industries.There are many from nearby Asian countries, especially Korea.
naturally for an advance city there are good, modern hospitals and dental surgeries. More on this on the site soon.
The Sichuan Earthquake in 2008 caused 5-600,000 people to sleep outside for a month. There is now no sign of the quake damage in the city. It caused many 1000s of deaths within the Mianyang District. The Beichuan Earthquake Memorial is an hour from the centre.
I do so hope your stay, no matter how fleeting or long, will be a pleasant one…… Ralph Johnson and Lisa.