30.01.2012 - 30.01.2012 4 °C
Up very early this morning to get the tour to the Panda Research and Breeding Facility. There are four of us going from our hostel, and picking up another 3 from another hostel.
The trip in total takes about an hour, and we arrive at 8.30 it only cost about $15AUD for return transport and entry to the centre. Once inside we get a tour guide who really isn't very good but leads you around the centre. First part there is one adult panda who is sleeping near the back with his head buried in the grass and everyone is very disappointed and worried that this will be what it's like the whole way.
Further on we see our first moving/awake panda and it's amazing to see, they look a lot different from the discovery channel pandas, but incredible none the less, it's drinking and eating bamboo and got some quite good photos although he really didn't want to stay still for anyone and kept turning around.
Next we pass the red panda enclosures, and a sign quickly tells you they are not relation to pandas, which is amusing. The red pandas are lively and pose for photos, and we all joked it's because no one is really there to see them so they have to get attention some how, but they are quite amusing to watch. Next they take us to where the cubs are, and there are 5 of them, two are playing on a fallen tree right in front, it's difficult to get pictures through all the tourist there and some are in trees like Koalas, which was news to me that they climbed trees like that, but got a few decent pictures here to. The enclosures are amazing and the amount of effort they go to to aid in the saving of the species is incredible, which is shown on a movie you can watch while there.
A few more panda enclosures and great pictures later we are given free time to wander the centre and meet back at the van. After we dropped the other hostel group back, the couple on the tour invited me to go to lunch in a traditional Chinese town for local food. So the four of us took a bus there, with me not knowing what to expect.
We arrive at this place called Luodai Ancient Town and this place is beautiful, the town is packed with locals, and the atmosphere is intense within array of market stalls. The Chinese lady and her South African partner, and a Chinese girl who I had been speaking with at the hostel previously (she studied English at University and now teaches it at a prep schools for students to get ready to study abroad) sat down to lunch in this busy restaurant.
The Chinese girls decide we should have the banquet, which costs in total $17.50AUD for the four of us and there is so much food, a special vegetable you can only get in Chengdu, beef and bamboo, Kung pow Chicken, lotus root, spiced mutton, egg soup, bean curd and rice. Sichuan food is amazing, so much better than anything in Australia and its sad it's not more traditional at home. After we eat we wander the markets and there is so much to see from handicrafts to food preparation and sweet making its great, walked past a store with various meat produce, Wein Piang (who has taken it upon herself to be my tour guide) showed me rabbit head which I don't think I will be eating and she assures me she never has either.
On the way out we spot a store selling insects on a stick, which I have not seen a lot of, well not as frequent as I expected. So I decided to have Crickets and the couple got the lava. We were asked if we wanted it spiced so decided that was best to give it more flavor, they are quickly fried in oil and dipped in spice and then the stick is pushed at you, and to tell you now Crickets actually taste quite good, but doesn't everything on a stick, and now very keen to try more bugs. Also had quail eggs on a stick which are also very tasty.
After a long day and long mulit-bus ride back to the hostel;
Lessons Learnt - Part 7
When you are crammed into a bus that has been filled passed its max 55 person capacity as per signage, it is every man and women for themselves, do not, I repeat, do not try and offer your seat to the poor lady carrying an infant because it will be taken before she can sit down, by an able bodied student or business man, which happened on two occasions today and I was quite shocked but the poor women did not seamed surprised. Also be prepared to push you way out as the doors only open for a few seconds.
I end up relaxing and talking to Weinpiang about the differences between everything and anything in Australia and China and she is very curious about everything, probably the benefit of majoring in English at University.
After that we decide to head off for the night, and she has invited me to go with her to a 2000 year old irrigation system so will be doing that tomorrow.