Chengdu might look like a typically gray Chinese metropolis of skyscrapers and chaotic traffic, but beneath the concrete exterior is one of China’s most inviting, charming cities. Life moves just a little more slowly here. The teahouses fill up quickly on weekends with locals practicing calligraphy and cracking sunflower seeds, and at the Chengdu panda research center, the city’s most famous residents seem content lazing about in trees most of the time. Recently, though, this unpretentious city has seen its economy boom as one of China’s new high-tech hubs, luring young entrepreneurs to found creative start-ups and innovative architects to transform the skyline. There’s definitely a buzz about the place, though it’s hard to notice over the clacking of tiles during a rousing game of mah-jongg in the park.