AsiaChinaChengdu

First it was the falcon in Budapest, now a red panda in Chengdu...

Chengdu Travel Blog

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Heading into the Reserve

The alarm was set for 7am, and that's when it went off.  I managed to get up about 15 minutes later, stumbled my way around the room- even with 20/15 vision.  Yup, not quite awake yet.  But I got out by 8, stopped at Starbucks (I know, but I stayed away from the milk), had a tea and muffin, read for a little while (I brought the new Supernatural book with me- Witch's Canyon- really good).  Then I ran outside since I'd been reading longer than I intended, and caught a taxi.  I pointed to the Chinese name of the panda place in my guidebook, and off we went!  The scenery on the way there was nothing special, just city.  Even the front gate was a little blah.

58 yuan later (for the ticket, the taxi was 30), into the Reserve I went.  I was walking around alone for about 15 minutes when a lady asked if I spoke English.

Heading into the Reserve
  And from then on, Louise and I spent the rest of the day together.  It was really nice to meet someone, especially when away from what you're used to (Beijing isn't home, but I am used to it).  And it was really nice to be able to have a conversation with someone! 

First stop- Panda Enclosure #14.  There were two pandas there, one in front munching away on bamboo, one in back munching away on bamboo.  From there, we stopped at one of the red panda enclosures.  We walked around the enclosure, trying to get some good pics since those pandas didn't want to show us their faces.   Then we moved on to more red pandas!  These were quite willing to show us their faces! One would even stand on its hind legs!  So, so cute!   We had a great time (except for the hoard of screaming brats, but they moved on pretty quickly).
Heading into the Reserve
  Lots of pictures and video later, we made our way to the giant panda cubs. 

And again with the screaming brats- and there was even a sign that said (in Chinese, English and either Japanese or Korean)- I'm the national treasure and I hate noise.  But apparently, the kids and chaparones didn't know how to read.  But they left after a few minutes, and Louise and I had a relatively peaceful time watching the panda cubs eat and walk around a little.   After a little while, we moved on to the next panda enclosure, 'ooh-ing' and 'aah-ing' at the adorable pandas as they ate, slept or walked around.

By the time we'd done the circuit, we'd been walking around for a little more than three hours.  We started walking towards the lake, and came across a peacock.
Heading into the Reserve
  We found a bench with absolutely no view of the lake, but wanted somewhere to sit for a few minutes anyway, and the peacock strutted near us down the boardwalk.  And then he splayed his feathers!!  He'd long since diappeared by the time we decided to head to the lake.  So when we got to Swan Lake, we took our time on the boardwalk, looking at the mess of crazy fish, the swans and ducks and other things that float, and we found a bench so we could rest our tired feet!

Yes, lots of pictures and lots of video.  We left the lake, and decided to walk around the Reserve again.  By this time, the kids were gone and it was quite peaceful.  We stopped by the #14 enclosure, walked around the buildings until we got to see the panda in back munching on bamboo through a dirty window.
Heading into the Reserve
   We stopped by the red pandas again, and this time I enquired about a sign that said that for a donation, I could hold a panda!

The girl said it was a 100 yuan donation to the Reserve to hold the panda and have pictures taken.  Think I did it?? 

Of course I did!!!

So after putting on what looked like surgical gear (Paging Dr. Robin...  *eg*) and gloves, I sat down and awaited my panda.  I'd already decided I wanted to talk one home with me, and this did absolutely nothing to change my mind.   They're much smaller than giant pandas, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite that small.  The panda, I was told, was a 2-year-old female.  And she was mostly fur!  I went to grab her, and I nearly let go because I wasn't expecting so much fur.
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
  But Louise took pictures for me, then it was her turn.  Then the attendant took pictures of the both of us.  And we got a pin with a picture of a red panda. 

Sing-song voice-
I got to hold a panda!  I got to hold a panda!

We kept walking for a little while, until we decided it was time to get back into the heart of the city and get some food.  So meandering our way out, and stopping at the gift shop, we took a taxi back to Zongfu Lu (it was the street I'd walked the day before) since she wanted McDonalds and I wasn't up to experimenting with spicy Sichuan cooking after being sick the previous day.  Louise was telling me that she'd left home (Brisbane, Australia) back in November and had been travelling SE Asia ever since!  And this was her first McDonalds in all that time!  Brave, brave woman.
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
  After that we headed down to Starbucks (I was becoming a regular by then), for more talking over coffee (for her) and tea (for me).  Then we found Chunxi Lu, a street that was recommended by one of my students).  It was pretty cool, pedestrian-only. 

And then- Tianfu Square at night.  When I was home, I saw a show called Passport to China with Samantha Brown.  I knew there was a square she'd been in that at night, the fountains would turn on and be really colorful and beautiful.  I had just hoped I remembered correctly when I thought she'd been in Chengdu.  We got there about 7:55, and by 8pm, I knew I remembered correctly.  The colored lights turned on, and the fountains and music started up.
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
  Pics and video time!  We stayed for about half an hour by the time we were ready to take off and head back to our respective accomodations.  I made sure she got her taxi, then I walked back to my hotel. 

I did the one thing I wanted to do in Chengdu- see the pandas.  Turned out I got more than I ever imagined!  Being able to hold that panda- it was worth the hassles and headaches and sickness.  That made everything better.  That's why I came to China.   I didn't come here to teach, that's just a means to an end.  I came here to live, I came here for the experiences.  This is why I'm in China. 


*Oh, about the title.  Back in August '06, I went to Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary with my best friend and her boyfriend.  There was a guy there with a female peregrin falcon that you could 'hold'.  Of course I did that too.

cbrzustoski says:
It looks like you had a blast in Chengdu. Hen hao! :-)
Posted on: Apr 06, 2009
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Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Heading into the Reserve
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
Giant Panda at Enclosure #14
Flowers along the way
Flowers along the way
Red Panda!
Red Panda!
Red Panda looking up at me
Red Panda looking up at me
Red Panda!
Red Panda!
Actually, they werent at the time
Actually, they weren't at the time
Doing tricks!
Doing tricks!
Chow time!
Chow time!
Chow time!
Chow time!
Sitting up in the tree, watching t…
Sitting up in the tree, watching …
Giant Panda cub relaxing
Giant Panda cub relaxing
the aforementioned sign
the aforementioned sign
more cubs
more cubs
Giant Panda
Giant Panda
along the way
along the way
hanging in the tree
hanging in the tree
bamboo- favorite food of the giant…
bamboo- favorite food of the gian…
more bamboo
more bamboo
chillin
chillin'
peacock with its feathers splayed
peacock with its feathers splayed
Thanks for the advice again, Sparky
Thanks for the advice again, Sparky
Fish Fight!
Fish Fight!
not sure what this is
not sure what this is
the tables on the boardwalk
the tables on the boardwalk
people looking at the fish and oth…
people looking at the fish and ot…
not sure what this is either
not sure what this is either
Chinese people feeding the animals…
Chinese people feeding the animal…
Bamboo Scrap and Compost Pile (at …
Bamboo Scrap and Compost Pile (at…
How can that be comfortable?
How can that be comfortable?
through the dirty window
through the dirty window
through the dirty window
through the dirty window
Fountain near Enclosure #14
Fountain near Enclosure #14
Not sure if hes smiling or hissin…
Not sure if he's smiling or hissi…
I got to hold a panda!
I got to hold a panda!
I got to hold a panda!
I got to hold a panda!
I got to hold a panda!
I got to hold a panda!
me, Louise, and the panda
me, Louise, and the panda
a panda cub before we go
a panda cub before we go
a panda cub before we go
a panda cub before we go
Chunxi Lu from the street bridge
Chunxi Lu from the street bridge
Chunxi Lu from the street bridge
Chunxi Lu from the street bridge
Chunxi Lu
Chunxi Lu
Chunxi Lu
Chunxi Lu
statue on Chunxi Lu
statue on Chunxi Lu
the sign
the sign
me at Tianfu Square
me at Tianfu Square
Tianfu Square looking down Renmin …
Tianfu Square looking down Renmin…
me and the lit water show
me and the lit water show
Louise and the lit water show
Louise and the lit water show
me and the lit water show
me and the lit water show
me and the lit water show
me and the lit water show
Chairman Mao and the lit water show
Chairman Mao and the lit water show
Chengdu
photo by: spocklogic