Big Panda, Round Panda, Red Panda, Smog, Taxi Drivers and Local Buses, welcome to Chengdu

Chengdu Travel Blog

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Waiting to buy train tickets at the Xi'an train station
Wow its been about a week since I last updated my blog, been in transit a lot and been caught in places with crappy internet.  My last entry had me sitting on the top of a bunk of a hard sleeper 17 hour train ride to Chengdu.  Let me say 17-hour on a f-cking train is a long time and I hope I don’t need to do that again for a while.  So why Chengdu? Well..

While in Xi’an I met a Swedish guy and we decided to head out west.  After much debate we thought to go to Chongqing to catch a boat down the Yangtze River to see the Three Gorges and the big dam there.  Easy enough right, place decided, now only tickets need to be booked.
Noodles, a good meal for a long train ride
  Well much like everything in China, the language barrier makes things difficult, especially when you choose to book your own tickets at the train station with only your Lonely Planet Guidebook and a Mandarin phrasebook.  Definitely was an experience and adds to the fun of not really having a plan.

At the train station, we found out that there were no trains to Chongqing for a few days, well I could stand, but 17 hours standing while being given the evil eye by all of china on the train didn’t sound like too much fun! So we said now what?!! Ok, when is the next train to Chengdu? Tonight?! Ok f-ckit lets go!  We’ll figure it out along the way lol.  Off to Chengdu..

Chengdu, like any big city in China, is full of smog and friendly people, lol, of course they aren’t friendly.
Arriving in Chengdu, Getting off train at 530am
  Chengdu is a city of about 13 million with a surrounding population of about another 20, so basically the population of Canada in a small area.  So one would think there is a lot to see in Chengdu right? WRONG. There are 2 things, well two things that interested me, to see the Pandas and the Mao Statue!

Awww the pandas!  Everyone’s favourite relative of the racoon, yup not the bear as most people think.  Big ones, round ones, baby ones, giant ones and even red ones!  There were pandas everywhere at the “Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding“.  The only good thing about the 17-hour train ride to Chengdu was that we got into Chengdu at about 6 in the morning, therefore early enough to go see the panda feed.  Which is about 830 -900.
Aww Panda fight

Seeing the panda’s was actually pretty cool! Especially the little cubs.  They were like little toddlers in kindergarten, playing on swings, chasing after each other, even trying to push one another off the little bridges and swings lol.  Sometimes two would gang up on one little one push him/her off the swing and then run away, while the other one stumbled to regain their composure. Very cute.

Next up, the Mao Statue, which is a huge white/grey statue at the centre of the city.  Although I’m sure its impressive, when you put a white/grey statue against a grey background full of smog, the effect really isn’t there. Ok now its like noon, now what?

Well. when we arrived early in the morning, we never planned to spend time in Chengdu, so we bought train tickets for a 2-hour journey to a little village/town called Emei Shan.
Panda Cub
So we still had a few hours to explore the city.  And as I’ve been doing a lot lately, I’ve been taking the local buses around town.  Probably the most fun you can have for 10 cents (1 Yuan)!

Once you figure out from a local which bus to take, now it’s a matter of getting ON the bus.  One would think this is easy? No sir, I think the motto for local bus travel in China is, how many fucking people can we fit on this bus!  The answer is a hell of a lot! Lol Anyways, once settled in (seated hopefully),  You are greeted onboard to the follow message (at EVERY stop mind you), “May I have your attention please, please do not bring any explosives, combustibles, or poisonous gases on board, as it will affect the safety of the passengers.  Thank you”.
Mao Statue
  Lol I don’t even know what to say to that, other than dayam, I wish I released some of my poisonous gas to make some room for me on the bus sometimes!

For a few hours we walked around the city.

After a while, we jumped on another bus to what we thought was the train station.  Unfortunately, we usually don’t know when to get off, and just look for familiar things.  This time, the fact that basically everyone got off the bus, didn’t clue us into maybe we should get off.  About 10 minutes later, the bus finally stopped somewhere.  I tried to follow where we were after we missed the stop, I guessed about 1-3 km from the train station.  Basically down one big street, across a short freeway, turn right into a bus station.  Easy.s

The train was taking off in about an hour, so we decided to quickly just take a cab back. It was close. Big mistake.  Lucky for us, we got one of those cabbies that wanted to take us for a little ride around the city.  I pointed to the train station, he smiled and we were on our way.  Now like I said, I knew we weren’t that far, but after about 5 minutes, I’m like this guy is taking us for a ride.  So I point to the book, he smiles and continues to drive.  Now I know we aren’t going the right way, because we’re on backstreets, in residential areas, basically no where near the big building around the train station.  

So remaining as calm as I can be at this point, I say “its nice here, isn’t it!”, he smiles again.  Finally, I say to him, why are you driving us around in circles?!  He smiles and says close, close.  After pulling INTO traffic now, and sitting there for like 5 minutes not moving, I start to get mad and say why you taking for a ride, the meter says 13 Yuan, I say no 5 Yuan! He says no, no and smiles.  Now I’m thinking, laugh it up bitch, I’m getting pissed.  The big Swede in the back is about to go ape shit on him.  Anyways, after going about 10 km in a circle, I kind of recognize where we are, so I tell him to pull over.  Then I throw 15 Yuan at him, meter was 18.  

Now usually I would just walk out, but he, like a lot of Chinese that don’t do hard labour, had nails like Wolverine.  Not wanting to be part of any mauling, I give him the last 3 Yuan and slam the door and walk off, I look back and he’s just laughing. Ya fun times bitach, fun times.  

Anyways, we got to the train station with about 20 minutes to spare. Gotta love them friendly Chinese.  I just thought about those cute and cuddly pandas to calm down….

Off to Emei Shan.



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Waiting to buy train tickets at th…
Waiting to buy train tickets at t…
Noodles, a good meal for a long tr…
Noodles, a good meal for a long t…
Arriving in Chengdu, Getting off t…
Arriving in Chengdu, Getting off …
Aww Panda fight
Aww Panda fight
Panda Cub
Panda Cub
Mao Statue
Mao Statue
photo by: spocklogic