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30/04/2014

Sichuan cherries add to province’s flavor I

Pujiang in Sichuan province affordable China tours boasts lush forests, delicious cherries, great local cuisine and a pace of life that Chen Liang thinks is just about perfect.

'The flesh of our cherries is soft and juicy and easy to stone. You can put a handful in your mouth, enjoy the fresh pulp and then, spit the seeds out like a machine gun ..."

I came upon this florid description in a local newspaper while attending the opening ceremony of the second Pujiang Cherry Festival last week in Pujiang county, Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.

There was a tray of fresh cherries on the table. I took a few handfuls, and although I didn't machine gun the seeds out of my mouth, I enjoyed the juicy and sweetly sour fruit a lot.

The cherries are not the black cherries native to North America and now popular in our markets, but the Nanking cherry, mainly distributed in northern and western China, Korea and Mongolia. Compared with the black cherry, it is scarlet, smaller, with thinner skin and often a little sour. Because it is difficult to store and transport, it is rarely found in markets far from areas where it is grown.

As a native of Chengdu living in Beijing, I haven't tasted the cherries for many years. During the festival, however, the cherries were everywhere - on the tables, in the baskets of the local villagers and even hanging on trees top 10 China tour packages.

I choose not to walk to the fields of cherry trees and groves of tea trees to pick the fruit straight from the tree. Instead, after the Pujiang Cherry Festival's ceremony held at a small square on Cherry Hill, a 10-minute drive from the county town, I sat on the second floor of a local nongjiale home-stay's tea house. I sipped a cup of green tea harvested locally earlier this year, occasionally popping the cherries into my mouth. There was a soft breeze and a stunning panoramic view of the valley.

Cherries are only one of the reasons I was invited to visit Pujiang together with a group of journalists from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

About 70 kilometers south of Chengdu, Pujiang boasts 50.8 percent forest coverage, the highest percentage of all counties in Sichuan province. With three big reservoirs, densely wooded hills and a few old towns, the county has long been a popular trip from Chengdu popular China tour package.

With many of China's major cities suffering from frequent fog and hazy weather, the good environment in Pujiang has given the area a fresh appeal.

Spring is the best season to visit Pujiang. I stayed at the Grande Valley International Country Club at the center of the Grande Valley Scenic Area, only 10 minutes' drive from the expressway between Pujiang and Chengdu. The air is moist and fresh with the mixed fragrance of flowers and green grass. The night is full of the sounds of insects calling.

I wanted to jog around the golf course but was stopped by a thunderstorm. I woke to birds' chirping outside my window and found that the country club is right in the middle of a golf course. Beyond the golf course are rolling hills and forests. A hike or jog around the scenic area is pleasant.

Later in the morning, I found there is a well-paved road connecting the Grande Valley Scenic Area with Cherry Hill China tour guide. It takes about one hour to hike from the valley to the hill. Passing through tea plantations and cherry orchids, the views along the road are beautiful.

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