First it was the falcon in Budapest, now a red panda in Chengdu...
Chengdu Travel Blog› entry 54 of 79 › view all entries
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.