In the heart of Chengdu sits the YMCA. Over one hundred years old, it looks a little out of place in comparison to the sky-scraping apartments and shopping centers that surround it, so much so that Chengdu natives often stop to take selfies next to the gate. However, the number of people who do this pales in comparison to the number of socialites hanging out at the IFS mall.
The IFS mall is probably the most popular shopping center near Chunxi Road, where the streets are just as busy and crowded as Times Square in NYC. Honestly, it’s not hard to see why. The mall is a metro station, complete with a skating rink and six floors of the most popular international stores and designers such as Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Uniqlo, Bershka, and H&M. I haven’t even mentioned their fantastic PR campaigns yet.
This year marks one year since the mall’s opening, so the mall had artists create a campaign called “Sweet as One” with a huge red carpet made out of candy! The carpet was 180m long with 13 tons of candy. The campaign was to raise awareness for underprivileged rural children, and the carpet was to be donated to the children with financial support for their families. However, it rained one day and got all over the candy, so I’m not sure what happened.
There were various candy themed exhibits on some of the levels of IFS. My personal favorite was the fashion exhibit because of the detail put into the cake and ice cream heels. I love high heels and I love sweets! There were also various Prada and Chanel inspired gummy dresses.
On one of the levels, I found these giant wooden doll sculptures. I really like them because they look a lot like momiji dolls, which are wooden dolls that you can put a wish or message inside and give to friends. I have a few of these at home.
Big Hero 6 was a popular movie about a month ago in America. It seems as though China gets movies like this a month later than we do, because the newest Hobbit movie also just came out here. I had to get a picture with Baymax! He’s so cute! Marvel comics for the win!
I made some friends at IFS who were native to Chengdu, but studied abroad and were fluent in English. They both had rather boring English names like “Bob” and “Joe” or something, so I renamed them! We ate lunch together and talked about ourselves. Alec was a student in Australia and was pressured by his friend Jarek to talk to me because they thought I was Australian. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay long so I didn’t get to learn much about him. Jarek was a student in Singapore who wanted to be an engineer. They were both only home for Spring Festival and due back to their schools in a few days.
Because I had never been to the top of the IFS mall, Jarek and I decided to check out the sculpture garden on the highest level. The IFS mall is famous for having a giant panda statue climbing up the side of the building in a campaign called “I Am Here.” Like “Sweet as One,” the panda promoted awareness for a good cause; this time it was the conservation of giant pandas. It was supposed to be only a temporary exhibit last year, but was so popular that the mall decided to keep it. Of course, I had to get a picture with the gigantic giant panda!
The sculpture on the left was my personal favorite because it’s a Juicy Fruit gum wrapper! It reminds me of how much people litter, but in the center of Chengdu, you will almost never see trash on the street. There are always workers cleaning up the streets and sweeping the pavement.
The sculpture on the right was Jarek’s favorite because it was literally titled Sitting Green Dog. It’s a seriously interesting piece if viewed from other angles.
The next piece on the left actually spooked me. I was just walking and I jumped a little after seeing this bench man. I believe it was titled Les Rendez-vous, and it was seriously creepy! I just imagine sitting there and looking to my left, only to have a heart attack. The horses on the right were quite picturesque and enormous. I believe I was about as tall as the black horse’s knee.
Jarek offered to buy me coffee at Starbucks, which I accepted with the condition that I would get hot chocolate instead. It’s quite ironic that there are Starbucks on almost every block in a country that is famous for tea, which I prefer greatly. We went back up to “Les Rendez-vous point” and talked about our homes and schooling. He, of course, was made to sit next to that…that thing. Afterwards, he gave me some Singapore money as a souvenir and we went our separate ways. Alec and Jarek are now both in their colleges abroad, but we all keep in contact on WeChat.
I love making new friends in China! And I really enjoyed the sculpture garden in IFS!
For more information on how you can get an English instruction internship in China, contact Felix Muzza at FelixMuzza@mail.sunyjcc.edu or visit our International Internships page.