Friday, July 15, 2011

12 May: Chengdu

Wow, noisiest train ride ever! Sigh, people really have no idea about personal space or consideration in situations we take so for granted. There is no such thing as a personal call because everything is said so loudly. And it's the same on the trains, regardless of people who might be trying to sleep.

Admittedly when the lights go out at 10pm it does seem to quiet down. But I'm always trying to get to sleep long before that because, really, there is simply not that much to do on a train.

Anyway, I slept averagely and was woken super early because they switched on the lights in preparation for the last stop, Chengdu, about an hour before we arrived. Which was still in the dark at 05h30.

We'd arranged yesterday to get collected from the train station and go directly to Chengdu Panda Sanctuary, which opens at 07h30. We ended up faffing about in an empty car park for almost an hour and a half. Yawn.

We were the first people to enter the park this morning (our tickets had been pre-bought for us already) and we headed off to have some much needed breakfast before Panda viewing (because of a connection our tour leader had, they specially arranged to have the coffee shop open for us early, how awesome!).

And after breakfast we started to wander up to the Panda enclosures. Honestly, there is nothing quite like seeing an animal for the first time. Okay, so they're not quite in the wild like the Gorillas or Polar Bears, but they are about as close as I can get.

The adults weren't terribly interesting yet, all still snoozing because feeding time is only at 09h30 (which is what we'd come early for). Then we moved on to some gorgeous sub-adult bears who didn't put on much of a show for us, they were far more interested in their food.

The true stars of our visit was a Mom with her 3 cubs. Wow were they ever all having fun together! Was absolutely adorable watching the babies all play and tumble about together.

And then came the real highlight of the trip for me, I got to go in, have my shoes plastic wrapped, gloves and a gown put on, all so that I could hold one of the gorgeous Panda babies!

It was incredible. I think the grin on my face and general elation lasted a good few hours after. The "little" Panda I held was a 7 month old girl called YaYun. While she sat for photos, she was appeased with honey covered bamboo and she barely cared about us awe-struck humans at all!

Interestingly she had no animal smell. And their fur isn't soft (although it is hard to tell with gloved hands). More coarse like all other wild animals, not soft like my Rexy-boy. Haha.

We had watched the 4 young Pandas all sleeping or playing high up in the trees a little before I went in to hold one. Amazing how they don't fall (like so many other animals, but they seem like they should be too heavy for that somehow).

We wandered past a few more adult Pandas who were munching their breakfasts and then spent some more time watching the mom with 3 cubs - could've spent all day here!

We did have a look at a few of their Red Pandas, but they were far less exciting, poor things. And then it was time to head to Holly's Hostel and check-in.

Yay, our first Chinese accommodation with an enclosed shower (which is still not great if there is no drainage :P). We relaxed and showered (and I finally got to catch up on free wifi - yay!) for a few hours before we headed out on our orientation walk.

Was pretty awesome because we caught a bus to The People's Park and wandered around there for ages. It seems to be a hang out spot for mostly senior citizens who were dancing and watching what looked like talent shows, all blasting their music on top of one another. There were people playing board and card games and singing karaoke. All in all quite a surreal place but, with such a great vibe!

There is even a spot where people put up profiles of themselves if they are looking for a husband or wife! Apparently the 3 questions every Chinese girl wants to know before she'll date you is 1. Do you have an apartment 2. Do you have a car 3. Do you have a job. And they list these answers on the profiles specifically.

For dinner we went to a nearby restaurant to try a hot-pot. Basically you sit around a table that has a gas cooker in the middle and they bring a big pot which heats up at your table. I gather the base is some kind of fish soup - there was an entire fish floating in ours! We had 2 flavours (an inner pot and an outer pot), one which was spicy (apparently it was their mild, but it was quite hot for all of us!) and one that wasn't. And then you order your "fillings".

It's a bit like a fondue cause you're cooking your own food but here you just throw it all into the liquid and then try fishing it out with your chopsticks later. Keep in mind you cannot see thru the liquid so it's all chance (pot-luck?). I am not a fan. We came back and had a drink at the hotel after.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aaaw, those bears are so cute!

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