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Published: March 18th 2009
"and then he said..."
This blog is dedicated to our mums...the long awaited arrival in Chengdu, home of the Panda Bears!
14th March 2009
Having arrived back in Kunming the previous day, and having a flight out this evening, we decided to have a low key day. We sorted out the long over-due laundry we had rushed through on arrival last night before sitting down to breakfast and checking out the local map. Around lunch time we walked to the nearby Greenlake Park, which the Lonely Planet Guidebooks describe as one of China's finest. We spent a short while here - weekend masses meant it wasn't TOO relaxing - before heading into Walmart (again!) and stocking up on a few essentials, before grabbing a taxi to the airport for our 1950 flight to Chengdu, in the Sichuan Provence. We arrived at 2100 - a one hour flight opposed to a 22 hour train journey! - and found our hostel, and then slept!
15th March 2009
After our first real lie-in for weeks, and a big breakfast, we decided to check out an old Buddhist temple, a few kilometres away. The walk there took us through the old streets, which as it was a
Enjoying his breakfast!
Sunday, were heaving with activity! Wanshu Temple is the biggest Buddhist temple in the city, and was a nice place to spend a morning; watching the hordes queue (a novelty in itself!) to touch the Golden Foo Dogs heads or paws, or offer incense to their chosen Buddha.
By the time we had walked back to our hostel, it was past 1500 and so after a Hot Chocolate ( the temperature here fluctuates massively), and a hot shower we sat down for dinner whilst working out where we could find a sports bar....a few hours and a bus journey later, we found ourselves in Chengdu's attempt at an Irish Bar! Surrounded by ex-pats and drinking Chinese beer we watched England storm to victory, before heading to bed at 2am.
16th March 2009
The moment you've all been waiting for folks...don't worry we have lots more pics!
At 8am this morning, we jumped in a mini-bus to The Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. The Base is home to 86 pandas, which is nearly 10% of the existing population worldwide. Pandas are hugely in decline due to deforestation, their fussy eating habits (they will only eat 20 of the 300 species
You know you want one!
of bamboo, prefering to starve to death if they are not available), and their anti-socialness/laziness when it comes to mating season. We had timed our arrival perfectly to coincide with breakfast time (for the pandas!). As we approached the first enclosure, we saw - sat upright - our first panda, an adult, who had started the process of munching 30kg of bamboo for the day. Due to their hidden thumb (alongside their 5 fingers), they eat remarkably like humans. If you didn't know better, you'd swear it was a man in a bear costume!! We stood watching him for a long time. We walked around a number of enclosures - which are not akin to a zoo enclosure at all - and eventually found ourselves heading towards the nursery.....
Nothing can prepare you for just how cute baby pandas are. They are far more active than the adults, naturally, but also much more social. Which meant, as all children do, they were play fighting and running away and climbing and generally being cute! You could never tire of watching baby pandas, true story.
We dragged ourselves away from here, Hayley crying a little, and headed out for lunch with a
"Umm...a little help please?"
nice French couple we had met. The Sichuan Province is famous for its cuisine, and in particular one dish; The Hot Pot. The Hot Pot consists of a pot (duh!), which contains a spicy sauce made up of chilli, peppers and other devil spawn. From here on in we will call it Lava. The Pot is placed on a cooker in the centre of your table, and then you select food to cook in the Lava. It was very, very hot - Daniel cried a little - but was good, and very, very cheap.
After lunch, we caught the bus to Emei Shan, which is 130km south west of Chengdu, where we would be spending the next couple of days.....
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