A Change of Scenery

It’s been quiet here on the blog.  Mostly this is due to a lot going on in my life.  I work, I volunteer, I attend baby and bridal showers, I prepare for big things this upcoming year.  Big things?  What do you mean?  I mean I’m trading my job of working with 5th graders for one of working with preschoolers.  I’m giving up my rented three-bedroom townhouse for a small apartment.  And I’m moving 7600 miles away…almost the other side of the world…

(On a completely tangential side note, how cool is this website?  The opposite side of the earth from me is…water.  But Perth, Australia is really close, which just cements my desire to live, someday, in the land down under.)

In July/August (not really sure of dates yet), I’m moving to Chengdu, China.  Although this is the capital city of the Sichuan (Szechuan, if you prefer) province in Southwest China and about 80% (so I’ve read) of the world’s giant pandas live there, I had never heard of this city before.  Now researching it is a delightful pastime of mine.  As a snowy day activity, I decided to compare and contrast my hometown with my future…town.

Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA 

Chengdu, Sichuan, China 

How old is the city? While the Virginia Assembly built a fort near here in the 1670s, Fredericksburg was not officially established until 1728. Um.  I don’t know.  The history of Chengdu can be traced back to at least the four century BCE.
How many people live there? In the 2010 census, there were 24,286 people living in the city.  Technically, I’m not one of them.  But the nearby counties are so spread out that this at least gives you some idea of the small population. The city houses 14 million.  Over 7 million live in the actual districts of the city while just under 7 million live in the area immediately surrounding Chengdu.
Where is the city located? This city is situated on the Rappahannock River at the Fall Line (where it becomes hard for boats to get upriver due to rapids).  Fredericksburg is 49 miles south of Washington, DC (the country’s capital) and 58 miles north of Richmond, Virginia (the state’s capital).  Virginia is located centrally on the East Coast of the USA. Chengdu is located at the western edge of the Sichuan Basic in Sichuan, China.  Sichuan, China is in southwestern China, bordered by various mountain ranges.  The Yangtze River flows through the western portion of the Sichuan province.
Tell me about its name. Fredericksburg was named for Frederick, Prince of Wales, the son of King George II.  Walking the streets, you will notice they bear the names of the members of the royal family. The emperor of the Shu Kingdom built the city, wanted it to be the capital, and named it Chengdu which literally meaning becoming (cheng) a capital (du).  And the name stuck although the city looks (obviously) drastically different now.
Does it have any nicknames? I remember Fredericksburg being called “The Pear City” once upon a time.  Legend was that George Washington planted Pear Trees, the descendants of which were lining the streets in the downtown area.  But now the trees have been removed which, I think, leaves Fredericksburg without a nickname. Chengdu is known at the City of Hibiscus ever since King Mengchang ordered Hibiscus planted on the fortress wall around the city in the 900s.  Although the walls have since been torn down, the city’s flower is still the Hibiscus.  It’s also known as the Brocade City (still have to learn about that one) and the Turtle City because the city’s lines were apparently originally demarcated by the path a turtle took as it walked.
What about a motto? America’s Most Historic City A City You Don’t Want to Leave
Why would someone visit?
  • To see the Civil War battlefields
  • To make business deals over a round of golf
  • To see the historic downtown area
  • To visit George Washington’s boyhood home, Ferry Farm
  • To play in one of the many parks or do something aquatic on the river or at Lake Anna
  • To try new drinks at a nearby winery or brewery
  • To eat Carl’s Ice Cream
  • To explore Central Park
  • To attend a First Night of Fredericksburg
  • And, currently, to visit me
  • To see the Giant Panda reserve
  • To make business deals over a game of mahjong
  • To see the Sichuan opera
  • To visit the important Taoist center, Mount Qingcheng
  • To play at the beach in the New Century Global Center (currently the world’s biggest building)
  • To try new drinks at one of the many teahouses
  • To eat “Hot Pot”
  • To explore the ancient Buddhist monasteries
  • To attend the Lantern Festival, the Huanglongxi Fire Dragon Festival, or the South China Snow and Ice Festival
  • And, starting in August, to visit me


  1. swtspontaneous · March 25, 2014

    Preschoolers?! Man, you are brave! What an adventure!

    • Katie · March 26, 2014

      Thanks! I think I’m more nervous about the little kiddos than the move!

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