I’m in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province.
I meet up with Lee in the hostel. We’re both feeling a bit worse for ware! I flew in from Lijiang, arrived at 1am and tried to sleep on one of the benches until morning. Lee had just come on a monster bus journey from Yunnan and arrived within the hour.
Shower, change of clothes, and some food hunting is in order! And we start to feel 100% better as we find an amazing little street food stall which sold fresh hot crispy rolls which your choice of filling……the little place had a constant queue, 5 or 6 locals deep….always a good sign! :-)
During my search for a flight between Yunnan and Chengdu I stumbled across a lot of websites offering tour packages of China. Domestic flights, pick ups from the airport, meals, bus tickets, and an itinerary for 1 – 2 weeks of travel.
One of these packages matched exactly what me and Lee had just done for the past 2 weeks – Dali, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Shangrila. At a price range between £900-£1700 depending on the food and accommodation options……me and Lee sat and tried to work out what we had spent for the same thing without the organisation….with an average hostel bed coming in at around £4 per night and meal around £2…even my flight into Chegdu was only £35, we worked our we had each saved well over £1000 each!
“Wow!”, I say, “I always knew you save a bit of money by just giving things a go and sorting yourself out…….I just didn’t realise how much it could be sometimes!”
Now, apart from the trademark spicy street food (Sichuan pepper!) and general City life, Chengdu is probably most know for its Pandas! And feeling good from our recent money-saving discovery, we make our own way to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
A bit of bus confusion causes us to miss breakfast, but we arrive safely and start exploring. The centre was really well run and professional. Full of informative films, information centres, Panda hospitals, Panda research facilities, and Pandas……Lots and lots of Pandas! :-)
Giant Pandas are one of the most iconic and endangered animals on the planet. And, after watching the informational films at the centre, the breeding of Pandas is a complex business! The earliest remains of Giant pandas found are dated at 2 million year’s ago, and for a species that has survived for over 2000 centuries, they sure aren’t a fan of reproduction! The female Panda has apparently a tiny window between 24 and 72 hours, per year where the females ovulate and experience sexual excitement…that combined with the males general apathy and preference for sitting, sleeping, and eating bamboo, it doesn’t not bode well for natural conception!
In once of the film screenings 6 hours in, I can feel myself drifting off. Maybe it was the lack of food, or the walking around in the heat……could have also been the darkened room and the soft background track of Enya in between each short film.
I jolt myself out of one of those ‘in-between awake and sleep states’, where you feel like falling. I glance to my right where Lee is sitting….he has his phone out and is typing ‘Enya’ into his notes on artists he needs to listen to…….
“Shall we make a move?”
“Yep, let’s get some food and the bus back.”
A brilliant day and great experience. Time to make a move again. We’re heading even further East though the Cities on the way to Beijing…..Next stop, Xi’an!
And, finally, just before closing off this post……here is a guy in an army uniform……doing excercise…..on half a segway…………yep, that happened!