To the north of the Altador Plains, in an almost unknown part of Neopia high above curious, prying eyes, lies a merchant nation of unrivalled culture and ancient ritual. This mystical land of hovering mountains, marvellous cascades of waterfalls, and splendid architecture has existed for centuries undiscovered until recently. Though the magically suspended mountains are heavily coated in frosty green moss, the atmosphere is a constant foggy yellow -- the colour of sunset or sunrise. Exotic smells of all sorts, ranging from the delightful aroma of Spicy Cabbage Pancakes and Oozing Negg Buns to the spiced scents of native perfume like Shenkuu Dates and Brilliant Draik Flower, float through the vibrant streets of Shenkuu.
Each and every province of Shenkuu is unique, with its own traditions and traits. For example, the North is famous for its scrumptious dumplings and noodles; the East is known for its artistic yet practical weapons; the South is famous for its fine jade jewellery; and the West is renowned for its grand spiritual temples.
However, as wonderful as those regions are, today we are going to be focusing mainly on my local city, and that is the Imperial Capital of Shenkuu.
And who am I, you might ask? My name is Sumalagu, and I'm a royalgirl Mynci. Welcome to my hometown! I will be introducing you to the most famous and popular hotspots for both locals and tourists in town. If you will, step into this palanquin and come on this voyage with me.
When you first step into the Imperial Capital of Shenkuu from the dreadfully cold west, you will notice the blue and red Kou-Jong Street at the foot of the first mountain. If that is not clear enough, it is an entire street consisting solely of Kou-Jong game houses! If you have never been to the capital before, then you may not be aware that Kou-Jong is the local favourite. Just take a look around; anyone from the frequent locals to happy-go-lucky foreigners with a bit of spare time and a few extra Neopoints will be at a Kou-Jong game house, playing their hearts away with cheery merriment. The tradition of the Kou-Jong game houses is to serve a refreshing cup of Black Cherry Tea or Powdered Green Tea to every single customer.
Linae the pink Kougra is the proprietress of the most popular Kou-Jong game house in the street, and she's quite the cunning one. Most of the time she's in her cabin calculating the gains and losses of her business or roaming between game rooms, making sure that there is no unruly behaviour or foul play. Occasionally, if she deems a player worthy of her time, she will challenge them in a good-natured manner to a one-on-one game with her. If they succeed (which is a very rare circumstance), she will award them a very prized trophy to take away with them.
If Kou-Jong is not the game for you, there are also other Shenkuuvian games out there, such as Eye of the Storm, Imperial Exam, Princess Lunara, Shenkuu Warrior, and more; however, they are unavailable in the Imperial Capital of Shenkuu, and you would have to venture to other regions of Shenkuu to access them.
As our palanquin moves up the mountain, we arrive at a humble little shop shaped like an herbal medicine pot. Owned by an elderly Ruki herbalist and doctor named Anshu, Remarkable Restoratives is a place many Shenkuuvians will visit when they are ill. It supplies various medicines, such as Talon Root, Slimy Tree Bark, Crumble Fungus, Shrimp Powder, and more. Despite how repugnant some of these herbs may sound, they are some of the most effective remedies Neopia has to offer.
Anshu has studied traditional medicine for almost as long as he has lived... but no one knows exactly how old he is. Aside from this, he is a philosopher and one of the wisest Neopians one could ever meet. The ancestral methods and recipes that only Anshu knows have been passed through generations of doctors in his family.
If ever your Neopet feels unwell, head over to Remarkable Restoratives for a Shenkuuvian fix that will leave you feeling as good as you will ever feel!
Stepping into the palanquin once more, we ride downhill to a wooden bridge that will allow us to cross over to the tallest mountain in Shenkuu. Sit tight as we are carried upward to the peak of the mountain where the mysterious monument of the Lunar Temple rests. If you wish, you may look out and see a small but beautiful waterfall to your right.
In this Temple lives an ancient Gnorbu commonly referred to as the "Wise Old Gnorbu," for he is so old that no one alive knows what his name is. His job is to maintain the official lunar calendar for Shenkuu. You may not know this, but Shenkuuvians follow a different calendar system than the rest of Neopia. This is because Shenkuu is a floating merchant country, and the common Neopian calendar cannot time the arrival of monsoons and other natural events as accurately.
From this high point, we have a very clear view of the largest tower temple in Shenkuu toward the northeast. Shenkuuvians visit this temple, bringing with them gifts of food and incense as offerings to the moon during the annual Lunar Festival.
If you look toward the west across the tallest wooden bridge, you will see the famous Cyodrake's Gaze ship displayed in the courtyard of the Imperial Palace. It is the heavily guarded home of the Imperial family and their household servants.
Riding down from the peak of the mountain now, we arrive at another wooden bridge, which will bring us to the third mountain. This mountain is the most luscious of them all. Minding the stones, we will see a round golden building. Savoury aromas escape from this place, and anyone within half a mile from here will instantly know that they are not far from Exotic Foods.
As the name suggests, this is Shenkuu's first-rate food store, serving tasty and aesthetically pleasing foods like Misty Shenkuu Mountain Soup, Poppit Vegan Platter, Pickled Bluchard Root Platter, Red Bean Dumplings, and Lotus Rice, just to name a few.
The shopkeeper, Orrin, a red Nimmo, is a very pleasant fellow who takes pride in decent food and has hired the best chefs from all corners of Shenkuu to work for him.
Speaking of best chefs, who can forget the surly Chef Bonju who has kept Shenkuu and the rest of Neopia anxious for so long? If you cross the rushing river by boat after dismissing your palanquin, you will reach a curious-looking black wok with the notorious orange Blumaroo standing by it. Being a master culinary artist, he won't just serve anyone. You must have the right ingredients to use his infamous magical cooking vessel. If you are lucky, he may even grant you an avatar!
However, I would strongly advise you not to get on the wrong side of Chef Bonju as he can get a tad feisty.
Going around the mountain the other way, we are met yet again with another bridge, this time leading us to the fourth mountain. At base of the mountain, you will hear the slashing and clanking of swords, spears, and other fearsome weaponry in use.
Kentari is the shopkeeper of this weaponry shop, and he himself is a skilled martial arts master. He hopes that one day he might open a Shenkuuvian Training School, much like the Mystery Island Training School and Cap'n Threelegs' Swashbuckling Academy.
He is also an able merchant, as he is constantly trading with the East for the fine and precise weaponry that only they can produce. Imports include the Enchanted Pudao, Golden Handled Long Sword, Sparkling Bonbori Hammers, Ancient Shenkuu Cannon, Jade Staff, and Bracers of Fury.
If ever you are in need of quality weapons to gain an unexpected upper hand in Battledome, be sure to visit Wonderous Weaponry for exotic weapons that your opponent may never have even heard of.
Since we have no palanquin now, we must walk up the mountain. While it is a long way uphill, we may pause every now and then to appreciate the vivid fauna and flora that grows around us.
Before you know it, we are passing through an open gate, which leads to the beautiful Petpet shop, Fanciful Fauna.
The elaborately dressed spotted Koi who is the owner of Fanciful Fauna has been nicknamed Hua by the adoring locals. Although she usually keeps to herself, she is known throughout Shenkuu for rescuing and nursing injured and abandoned native Petpets back to health and selling them to caring owners. The most common of these Petpets include Hegelobs, Jumas, Kazerius, and Dandans; however, occasionally a lost Quilin or Biyako may show up.
If you head further east, you will soon be out of the Imperial Capital of Shenkuu and into the warring East Shenkuu.
This concludes our long but entertaining and informative journey through the Imperial Capital of Shenkuu. I hope you enjoyed your travels. I also hope that I have shown you a completely new and different culture that you may remember for years to come. If ever you feel like it, just come and visit me in Shenkuu! I will most likely be having a good chat with the Wise Old Gnorbu, playing pranks on Chef Bonju, or visiting my good friend Princess Lunara in the Imperial Palace.
Your unofficial tour guide, Sumalagu