Chengdu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status. The urban area houses 14,047,625 inhabitants: 7,123,697 within the municipality’s nine districts and 6,730,749 in the surrounding region.
Chengdu is one of the most important economic, transportation, and communication centers in Western China. According to the 2007 Public Appraisal for Best Chinese Cities for Investment, Chengdu was chosen as one of the top ten cities to invest in out of a total of 280 urban centers in China. In 2006, it was named China’s 4th-most livable city by China Daily.
With over a thousand years of history, Chinese tea culture is perhaps best exemplified by the bamboo chairs and wooden tables found in the hundreds of tea houses throughout Chengdu, with jasmine tea being served as the local staple. As early as the Western Han period, both tea trade and tea culture were very prosperous in Sichuan with Chengdu as the starting point of the Southern Silk Road. Chengdu is an officially recognised UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
As China’s National Treasure, the giant panda is one of the rarest animals in the world. The total number is estimated to be 1,500, including those living in the wild, 80% of which are in Sichuan Province. A breeding center for giant pandas was founded in the north suburbs of Chengdu. It is the only one of its kind in the world that’s located in a metropolitan area. In order to better protect wild giant pandas, Chengdu has established nature reserves in Dujiangyan City, Chongzhou City, and Dayi County. Sichuan Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve, the biggest of its kind in the world, is only 130 km (81 mi) outside Chengdu.
China’s state council has designated Chengdu as the country’s western center of logistics, commerce, finance, science and technology, as well as a hub of transportation and communication. It is also an important base for manufacturing and agriculture. According to the World Bank’s 2007 survey report on global investment environments, Chengdu was declared a “a benchmark city for investment environment in inland China”.
Dunvegan Castle is a castle a mile and a half to the north of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, situated off the West coast of Scotland. It is the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod. Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland.
A curtain wall was built round the hill in the 13th century around a former Norse fort which was only accessible through a sea gate. A castle was constructed within the curtain wall by Malcolm MacLeod in about 1350.
It is at once the greatest and most renowned among Hebridean strongholds, and the only one which has been continuously owned and occupied by the same family, during a period now reaching back over a span of very nearly 8 centuries. Architecturally it is a structure of high importance, containing work of at least ten building periods. Its history, and that of the famous Clan whose Chiefs have ruled from their castled Rock during all these many generations, is rich with drama and packed with colourful interest.
The picturesque quality of the building itself is matched by its glorious surroundings. “Ane starke strengthe biggit upon ane craig”, so it is described by a writer of 1549; and so it still remains. Rising sheer from the almost perpendicular edges of the rock, its massive grey towers and hoary battlements stand forth against an unrivalled background of sky and mountain and islet-spangled sea. On the landward side the castle – no longer girt by the bare wine-dark moorland, as when Dr Johnson visited it in 1773 – is now sheltered by extensive and thriving plantations, through which re-echoes the ceaseless murmur or”Rory Mor’s Nurse” – that ‘torrent’s roaring might” celebrated by Sir Walter Scott in the Lord of the Isles. Around those waterfalls are being reclaimed today the gardens of the castle, whose beauty and range of plant life have already attracted the interest of serious gardeners from all over the world.
Vélib’ is a large-scale public bicycle sharing system in Paris. The name Vélib’ is a portmanteau of the French words vélo (English: bicycle) and liberté (freedom). Launched on 15 July 2007, the system has expanded to encompass around 20,000 bicycles and 1,202 bicycle stations, located across Paris and in some surrounding municipalities, with an estimated ridership of 110,000 people per day in average.
Since December 2011, Vélib’ has been complemented by Autolib’, an electric car sharing scheme operating on similar principles. Vélib’ is operated as a concession by the French advertising corporation JCDecaux. As of 2013, Vélib’ is the world’s third-largest bikesharing program, after the 90,000-bicycle system in Wuhan, and the 61,000-bicycle system in Hangzhou, both in China.
Each Vélib’ station is equipped with an automatic rental terminal and has stands for dozens of bicycles. Maps showing the locations of the city’s Vélib’ stations are available at all kiosks.
In order to use the system, users need to take out a subscription, which allows the subscriber an unlimited number of rentals. Subscriptions can be purchased at €1.70 per day, €8/week, €29/year (Vélib’ Classique), or €39/year (Vélib’ Passion). With a subscription, bike rental is free for the first half hour of every individual trip; an unlimited number of such free trips can be made per day. A trip that lasts longer than 30 minutes incurs a charge of €1 to €4 for each subsequent 30‑minute period. The increasing price scale is intended to keep the bikes in circulation. A Vélib’ Passion subscription allows the user to have the first 45 minutes free on each trip, its price is reduced to €29 for users aged under 27, and to €19 for students receiving a scholarship.
If a user arrives with a rented bicycle at a station without open spots, the terminal grants another fifteen minutes of free rental time. The rental terminals also display information about neighbouring Vélib’ stations, including location, number of available bicycles and open stands. A fleet of 23 bicycle-transporting vehicles are used 24/7 to redistribute bicycles between empty and full stations.