Is that a Starbucks?

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Coffee is definitely a must item for me!  Cannot start the day without one and then another one after lunch, and maybe another….you get the picture.  While having a conversation with  Alissa (friend/ design enthusiast/pianist) about the best places to have coffee, she tells me that there is a Starbucks store in China that I absolutely need to visit, and sends me the photo to prove.   After looking at the photo, I cannot help but to wish for our own Canadian version of Starbucks here.    Please meet Alissa Wang and enjoy her very 1st blog entry and there will be more entries to come…  

The architecture of the Wide and Narrow Alleys in Chengdu, China really took me back to a different era in time. The boutiques of handmade goods, traditional teahouses, authentic Chengdu snacks and courtyards from the Qing dynasty made it seem as though I had traveled hundreds of years back – until, all of a sudden, when I was brought back into our modern era by the sight of a Qing dynasty courtyard with the words “STARBUCKS COFFEE” written on the banner.  Though I am not a huge Starbucks fan, the mysteriousness associated with this specific store gave me no choice but to walk in.

The menu items, the “Starbucks smell”, the sound of the frappuccino blending machines, and the enormous lineup typical of any Starbucks were present at this particular one. Even the furniture – the simple wooden chairs and tables, dark brown sofas – like those in any neighborhood Starbucks back home, were the same. The simplicity of the interior layout and furniture of a typical neighborhood Starbucks were kept intact. However, this particular location gave off a completely different vibe. The otherwise typical Starbucks tables, wooden chairs, and sofas were placed in the middle of an oriental garden within a traditional courtyard-styled architecture, surrounded by grey brick walls, wooden banners and poles, screen walls, and the classic brown sweeping roof. The modern Starbucks design was fused with an ancient Chinese courtyard environment, creating a fresh new Starbucks experience.

This Starbucks was a unique and magical combination of the familiar and the strange, modern and classic, western and oriental, simple and sophisticated. At one point, I even began to question where I was – sitting on the classic wooden Starbucks chair in the middle of Qing dynasty China.

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