To save time we flew from Xian to Chengdu in 75 mins. instead of 18 hours on a sleeper we treated ourselves. Taxi took us to near the centre of this small(4 million)city to some old style narrow traffic free alleys to find our digs for the next 3 days at the Dragon Town Youth Hostel. The streets had been repaired since the last earthquake in 2008,the alley looked very smart and fresh but still with an authentic feel,bar all the tourists. The temperature had dropped from Xian to low 30's but at 500m alt. and 600km further south the climate is humid. So this is a very green region, the vegetation very flush, ideal to breed Pandas. This is one of the main reasons to visit Chengdu, the other is to arrive or leave on the Tibet Highway to Lhasa.
We went on a Hostel arranged tour to the Giant Panda Breeding Centre early(7am) so as to see them at feeding time being active and not asleep which is what they do the rest of the day. It was amazing, the centre looks after the Pandas really well, much better than a zoo as they are trying hard to get
them to breed and it can take a long time for success. I was expecting just one or two but we saw maybe 15 or so different Pandas young and old including some Red Pandas.
Staying in the province of Sichuan for another 3 days we took bus to the town of Emei then a taxi to Baeguo to our hotel named the Teddy Bear. We were here to do some trekking in the Mount Emei area. Its a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a broad range of flora and fauna because of its range of altitude. The summit of Mount Emei is 3077m and the Baeguo town is 500m.
There are many ways to explore the area.We decided to take a 2 hr bus to a carpark where we took a cable car to the summit! However it was to take us 2 days and one night staying in a monastry to get back to the Teddy Bear Hotel. What an experience for both of us! 53km of steps up and down, naughty Tibetan Macaques and sleeping(not sleeping) in a Monastry.
We walked for 7 hours on the first day, and 6 hours on the second. Really proud
of Lynn as its the hardest walk/expedition she's done. The scenery was the best we seen in China so far and the feelings we had will be cherished. I can't believe that they have built so many slate steps, its an amazing feat of hard work
by the Chinese. But its not good for the knees.
We stayed in Hong Chun Ping Monastry for a night. Mainly accomodating pilgrams they take tourists as well in a variety of very damp old wooden type rooms. Ours had a hole in the floor but we had mosquito nets and a light. We ate in the Monastry's dining room for 30 yuan, no meat,just rice and veg,very good too. You wash your own dishes then go for a seat in the courtyard and monk watch before bed at 8pm.
We were woken at 4am. by chanting and the pilgrams getting up for prayers before breakfast.We left at 6am and down the steps a bit further for breakfast at the "Hard Wok" for pancakes and coffee.
On the way back we met a large troop of Tibetan Macaques. The Chinese had been feeding them so they were in a mischevious mood, especially the one
that jumped onto Lynns backpack and opened a zip before I beat it off with my bamboo walking stick. No harm done to either parties but others are not so lucky. Many loose their belongings or get scratched if a struggle follows. They are very quick and naughty.
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