Chengdu (National Geographic comp entry)

We flew with British Airways and on their new route to Chengdu (and the only International to do so) and descended past the sun, through the clouds and into the smog, welcome to the East.

Chengdu is China's fastest growing city with 14m Inhabitants, the city has all the hustle of London but on steroids, there appears to be no road laws, cars honk all the time, motorbikes ride into oncoming traffic and on pavements and crossing the road is like playing Russian Roulette. Buildings are being built in any space possible, high end shops sit near as next to the traditional markets where you will find tanks full of live crabs, fish and terrapins for dinner and the locals stare, long gasping slack jawed stares of disbelief at you, this is a part of China not used to Western tourism as yet. It is, fascinating, fun and exhausting.

So why Chengdu? Apart from the Panda sanctuary, the spectacular Anshun Bridge at night, the serenity and history of Wuhou Temple this is where you can pick up the highest train trip in the world to the forbidden land: Tibet, which is precisely where we were heading.