Looking for Pandas
Chengdu Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
All I really wanted was a picture holding a Panda cub. I was going to be in China on my own for two weeks, no guides, no agenda, just a desire to go deep into China. Sure I wanted a picture at the Great Wall and the Forbiden City but I really wanted a picture with Panda.
I spent a few days touring Bejing seeing the sights allowing the jet lag to fade and getting used to being a day ahead of my self. I scored tickets on a the train and headed to Chengdu where I knew the pandas were. The train ride was an adventure in it's self. 23 hours of some of the most amazing scenerey I had ever seen. I was the focus of alot of attention being the only round eyed foriegn devil.
Ordering a meal was also a challenge as the menu was not in my language either. I just smiled and pointed to things on either peoples plates that looked or smelled good. My biggest challenge was going to the bathroom. It seemed simple there was hand rail and hole in the floor. The swaying motion of the train added another challenge. As I looked at the hole it looked easy. Well it was messy and far from easy but natures call will not be refused.
Arriving in Chengdu the sky was cloudy.
The next morning I got up and headed to Panda research center knowing that if there were panda cubs to be found it would be there. For two hours I walked around seeing red pandas and giant adult pandas and other critters but no cubs in sight.
I had given up and was heading back to the main gate realizing I had just spent a bunch of money and several days of travel trying to get this picture. As I approached the gate I noticed a trail heading down the hill to on old building with bars on the window. It looked like a gardners shack. I looked through the bars inside and saw what looked to be jail. I figured this was where they put Americans who got of the trail and trespassed to places they shouldnt be. To my amazement there were panda cubs, probably about 5 or 6 of the little guys.
I went around to the door and knocked on it and was invited in by the staff. They seemed shocked that I was there. I just smiled and pointed to the panda with a big thumbs up. They smiled and showed me to the cage. They talked, I talked and nobody understood a thing. I pointed to the Panda then my camara, and gestured like I was holding a baby. The women shook her head, the man looked at her and shook his head they talked for a minutes. It didnt sound like the conversation was going my way. He took out a pen and wrote a number down on a piece of paper. I looked at and thought it was high so I cut in half, there was more passionate discussion and they shrugged and opened up the cage.
It all moved really fast from there, next thing I knew the panda was in arms, then it started to rub my face with it's nose, then he licked my ears and neck, then he started pawing my face softley and kinda purring (ok they dont purr they growl but it was still cute). It was the most amazing thing, here I was in China getting panda kisses. He was so damn cute and he had puppy breath. Next thing I knew my time was over but I had pictures. The best 400yn ($50usd) I ever spent.
It was only later when I was sharing my photos that I found out how lucky I was. They dont let people near the pandas, they are truly one China's national treasures and foriegners carry virus and bugs that they are not normally exposed to. Looking back I hope the little guy didnt get sick. Even the folks at the zoos in America dont get to play with Pandas. I consider myself lucky to be one of the few people in world to experiance a panda kiss.