Chengdu - Panda sanctuary

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April 24th 2010
Published: May 5th 2010
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Unfortunately I didn’t sleep...again. The night was a sleepless one due to my roommates, namely two English girls who went clubbing and burst through the dorm door at 4am, turned on every light they could find before one of them left with a guy shed met who graciously waited for her outside. The other girl decided to get know one of our other roommates intimately over the next 3 hours, this was only after talking complete nonsense at the same speed as a hyperactive 4 year old that’s been given 2 red bulls and a bar of tablet instead of hot milk and a bedtime story. Staying in dorm rooms this is to be expected but it’s not nearly as fun unless you’re the star of the show. The Panda reserve was a good way to spend the morning. They are cute no doubt about it and they’re also clumsy. Everyone looking into the enclosure had a giggle at their expense as they wrestled and fell off the platform they were playing on. After looking at all the enclosures with pandas of varying ages I went to the museum and then into the coffee shop which doubled up as a cinema playing a 20 minute video on the work of the centre, it was great product placement, after not having coffee in weeks and the strong aroma emanating around I succumbed to temptation and had one myself. After this I went my own way and stopped in at the Peoples Park which isn’t much by itself but it is interesting from a cultural point of view. There are people of all different ages (some looking as old as time) taking part in salsa, ball room dancing, spin fit classes, tone deaf people with amplifiers belting out Chinese Karaoke, brass bands competing for volume all with drummers that have no sense of rhythm. You name it. One guy caught my eye he was 70 if he was a day and he danced around a square to music in his head, my guess would be either dancing queen or copa cabana, he was the most flamboyant person I’ve ever seen in my life and I wasn’t the only one. I noticed someone else watching him, we started talking and sharing tips before I said I was heading to the Mao statue, the largest Mao statue in the world so I thought I should see just how big it actually was which I’d heard was covered in scaffolding, something my new friend confirmed. He’d passed that way half an hour before but he decided to come with me anyway and he was glad he did. When we got there almost no scaffold remained.
When I returned to the hostel I met Shavan and we agreed to go to Leshan 2.5 hours drive away to see the giant Buddha Dafo. The Buddha was carved out from the rock face by an 8th-century monk and stands 71m tall, it is now a UNESCO site; it also has a monastery and several little scenic spots around it. We decided to if we must we would go by ourselves but if possible through the hostel as it only cost and extra £1 and saved a lot of hassle in changing busses 3 times, in order to do this we had to get a few more takers to help us save money. I managed this by drumming up conversation with two complete strangers who were all for joining us. To celebrate we went out for dinner, Veejay, Vivian, Shavan and I went for Sichuan hotpot. Chinese style hotpot involves a stock or several stocks on a burner at your table, you then order your meat and veg and cook it at the table. Sichuan hotpot is renowned for being spicy, in fact it’s as hot as Hades, I was luck/unlucky enough to get on e of the special pepper corns that burn and numb your mouth with an effect comparable to Novocaine. Back at the hostel over a round of beer I ran into Ben and Arsan. It’s a very small world. I didn’t expect to meet them again though so we wished each other well and returned to our other conversations.


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