The BBC have just aired their latest episode of hit comedy reality series ‘the Real Marigold on Tour’ and this time they were in Cheng-du China. Do you know what else is in Cheng-du China? A Mall whose scale has to be seen to be believed. It is the largest in the world and goes by the name of the New Century Global Center (新世纪环球中心). Not only is it the biggest Mall, it is in fact the biggest building in the world if you go by floor space. The awesome sight of this Mall left the world-weary pensioners gawping, open mouthed, like a pair of halibuts.

‘The Real Marigold on Tour’ is a series which started back in 2016, inspired by the movie of a similar name, 2011’s ‘the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, in which a bunch of British retirees move to India in order to retire disgracefully. In the second series of the show, the gang of pensioners branch out from India and check out possible retirement locations across the globe. During their visits, they are loud, at time completely obnoxious, but at a certain age one tends to stop giving a damn about the sensibilities of strangers!

The exterior of the Mall - the largest single structure in the world

Things looked good initially, Wayne and Miriam were amazed at the sheer scope of the Centre

The site as you enter the Mall

The show included some phenomenal figures about New Century Global Center. The central atrium is eighteen stories high and the Mall can fit 22 Buckingham Palaces, 4 Vatican Cities or 20 Sydney Opera Theatres within. The Centre contains a full-on faux beach called the Paradise Island water park, which brings much joy to the land-locked Chengdunians. Above the beach is a large screen which displays sunny skies and romantic sunsets. Just next to the beach is a massive Mediterranean village, complete with full-sized church. The halls of the Mall are festooned in endless reams of palatial marble and display-screens on the escalators show fish flowing upwards. There is also so much more entertainment not seen in the show; it truly is something else.

Two of the series’ protagonists, Miriam Margoyles (76) and Wayne Sleep (69), visit the Global Center and had very different reactions. At first, both were gobsmacked as they entered and froze in their steps. As you enter, the Mall opens out like a cathedral and you get a sense of the scale thanks to the direct view to the very top of the structure - it’s only until you get into the guts of the Mall that the roof disappears and you are cocooned by the wonderful Malliness, where you can check out the 500 or so stores and restaurants.

Wherever you see a spot to sit, you'll find the Mallrats!

The distinct finishes in different areas of the Centre keep it fresh and exciting

After the initial shock was over, Wayne remained excited and eager to explore. Unfortunately, Miriam began a serious downward decline in mood for some reason I failed to understand. However, when the pair decided to go for a swim in Paradise Island, this low mood descended into utter misery - Miriam began swearing and making it clear to the lifeguards that she was far from a happy bunny. The poor lifeguard who received the brunt of abuse, merely looked at her quizzically. I imagined he was thinking something like ‘it’s got nothing to do with me, love’! She then launched into some speech about how vulgar it all is; she merely had to look around her to see how much everyone else was enjoying themselves in order to realise that it is in fact a wonderful place. I could happily live in this glorious Mall for the rest of my life.

Little did Miriam know that there were many more relaxing options available to her (either that or the series producers are sadists and just wanted to watch an old lady suffer!). Rather than splash around in the ‘sea’, she could’ve booked a room in the wonderful 1000-room attached Intercontinental hotel, located right next to the beach, and had a little nap. She could’ve caught a movie in the unreal 14-screen Imax theatre. She could’ve explored the plethora of stores, including a luxurious (and suitably massive) Lotte department store. Heck, she could’ve just had a lounge in one of the lovely deck chairs which were RIGHT BEHIND HER!

One of the luxurious hallways deep within the Mall

You can see the Mediterranean village in the distance, including the 'church'

Little touches, such as display-screens on the escalators showing swimming fish, are dotted all over the Mall

Needless to say, it doesn’t look like the retirees will be settling down in Cheng-du. It is a shame that the pair who visited didn’t embrace this wonderful Shopping Centre - I spent the entire episode incredibly jealous of the two. If someone had sent me there I would’ve left a wet patch out of sheer joy. That said, The show did do a great job of showing off the New Century Global Center, so I enjoyed it a great deal. They also showed some delicious Sechuan food in the episode which I absolutely love. All in all, the episode made me want to instantly find a week-long gap, fly to the Mall and spend the entire time checking it out. Look out for a review in the future!

All images: BBC / Twofour Broadcast

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