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Pandas and Needles

Xi'an Travel Blog

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I believe this village was called Luo Guan Tai. It is a about an hour and a half outside of Xi'an. This is where the panda preserve was located.

Hi!

It is Sunday afternoon here in Xi'an. Today I went downtown by myself for the first time. That meant that I had to navigate the city buses and streets all by myself, and I'm proud to say that I didn't get lost once. I ate some of the "street food" from vendors in the area of town called the Muslim Quarter. I had a fried donut-thing with red bean paste inside. (Sandi's favorite.) It was fresh out of the fryer and was really tasty. Then I had a couple of plump steamed buns filled with leaks and seasoning, which were also excellent. All of that cost a total of about 40 cents. Then I completely blew my profit margin by going to Starbucks to relax for a bit. But I don't intend to go there again during the trip. I'm not sure if I have the willpower to control myself, but I will do my best.

While there I read an English language Chinese newspaper. It was really interesting. There was an article accusing the Dalai Lama of organizing violence in Tibet. I need to read a western newsite to see if they share the same explanation. It doesn't seem like a very lama-ish action to me. But there were also some articles that were critical of aspects of the Chinese government, especially the Ministry of Education. I'm not sure what I expected in a state-run newspaper, but I'm glad to see that there is room for criticism as well as praise.

On to the topics of this post, pandas and needles. On Friday night we hired a van and driver to take us to the panda conservation project, which is about an hour and a half away. That took us through the countryside, which was great because I hadn't had an opportunity to see anyplace outside the city yet.

There were a lot of small towns located along the highway. The shops all seemed to be built on the road itself. Then the houses were behind. There were also alot of gravesites along the road. These were marked with mounds of earth (rather than flat as in the US) and decorated with what appeared to be paper flowers connected to large wire arches.

The panda town was having a festival this weekend. It was a small affair, but still very interesting to see. I've got some pictures of it that I will post. The hotel we stayed at was FREEZING! We were on the third floor, and I don't think it gets used much. We had no heat and no hot water. But the view outside was fantastic. We were right outside of a small mountain range. I'll post pictures of that as well.

Volunteers hanging clothing out to dry.

We went to the panda place first thing on Saturday morning. Actually there are more animals than just pandas. It is kind of like someone tried to build a zoo, then halfway through they changed their minds and made it into a panda preservation center. All of the pandas have been rescued from the wild. You can get much closer to them than you ever could in the US. The volunteers actually hand feed them. They look so cute and cuddley, it was really tempting to reach out and scratch their nose. But of course that was not an option, as they would probably tear my arm off.

Some of the pandas and other animals are in small habitats right now, which is kind of depressing. They say that they are constructing bigger habitats, and I hope that is true.

After doing that and having some lunch we went to the festival, where I tried to win a hideous ceramic pig that I really liked, for some reason. Luckily, I didn't succeed. We left around 3:30 to come back to Xi'an because we had an acupuncture demonstration last night. The staff here arranged for a local doctore to come in and tell us about acupuncture, and perform some on us. I have always wanted to try acupuncture, so I was thrilled. My treatment was for my high blood pressure, and involved placing a needle in each arm and both feet. They had to stay in for about 20 minutes. The ones in my feet hurt a little going in, but after that you really can't feel them. Some of the others actually had them on the face and fingers. Those were probably more painful. I can't say if my blood pressure is any lower today, but regardless, I am glad that I had a chance to do it.

Best,
Jen

jenmarie77 says:
Just a note...the newspaper story I mentioned was actually about the start of the Tibetan protests that took place that month. In the Chinese media, there were absolutely no reports of Tibetan deaths--only the deaths of a small number of Han Chinese in Tibet. I didn't learn this until I got home, because western internet stories on the subject were blocked.
Posted on: Aug 15, 2009
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I believe this village was called …
I believe this village was called…
Volunteers hanging clothing out to…
Volunteers hanging clothing out t…
Very cold hotel in Luo Guan Tai wi…
Very cold hotel in Luo Guan Tai w…
Most of the members of my voluntee…
Most of the members of my volunte…
I saw this many times--people, oft…
I saw this many times--people, of…
Still at the panda preserve.  I wi…
Still at the panda preserve. I w…
The staff and volunteers actually …
The staff and volunteers actually…
Panda environment
Panda environment
All of these pandas were rescued f…
All of these pandas were rescued …
There were other animals at the pa…
There were other animals at the p…
This guy let me scratch his nose.
This guy let me scratch his nose.
Because we were in a small village…
Because we were in a small villag…
Everyones favorite festival game-…
Everyone's favorite festival game…
Me trying (and failing) to win a c…
Me trying (and failing) to win a …
Acupuncture treatment for high blo…
Acupuncture treatment for high bl…
Xi'an
photo by: Deats