We came to Chengdu to see the giant pandas and the giant Buddha and because we heard it was a cool city, and we stayed a while to wait for our Tibet trip to start. We had to take two trains to get there, and because I made a mistake with our ticket dates, we ended up in hard seats twice, including overnight. It was not fun. We arrived in Chengdu tired and crabby, but finally managed to find our hostel when Kit, the guy we met in Zhangjiajie, had arrived the day before. A shower and some rest did us a lot of good. We just walked around a bit and went to dinner at a local restaurant. There's a veggie dish most restaurants have with eggplant and green beans (and LOTS of oil) and it's so good. We took another rest day the next day. We were staying right by Chunxi Road, the big shopping area, and walked around while Kit got some more winter clothing since he was heading to Mongolia after China. I also went to Carrefour, the huge supermarket. It was fun to walk around, and they had a lot of foreign food too.
I tried to go swim laps, but I forgot my ID and they wouldn't let me in without it. It was a nice walk along the river, so it wasn't really a loss. I also got to see everyone doing tai chi, using the exercise parks, and walking and running along the river.
Luckily Kit speaks and reads Chinese, so we were easily able to navigate the local busses to get to the giant panda research center. We took two busses early in the morning so we could make sure to get there while the pandas were awake and eating. We met another American named Jeff who walked around the park with us. The pandas were so funny when they were eating! They use as little energy as possible since they only eat bamboo and they have to save it all up in case they try to make baby pandas. Which, by the way, were so cute! We saw some who had just been born, and they were still in the little panda nursery. And we saw some bigger ones sleeping outside. They were on a little hill and one of them just kind of flopped down the hill without waking up. You could pay over $300 to take a picture with a baby panda but... we didn't do that. They had red pandas too. They were so cute!
We took the bus to go visit a temple, and where we got off there was a Walmart! We just had to check it out. We ended up getting Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and they tasted so geed even though they were probably pretty old. Just a taste of home. The Wenshu Temple was in an older are of the city, so it was fun to walk around the streets. We got some noodles and then had tea in the tea garden in the temple. When we got back to the hostel, they were having a dumpling party! We assembled the dumplings and then after they got cooked we ate them. The veggie ones had egg and cabbage in them. We also got coconut "milkshakes" (they were just ice, milk and coconut flavoring) and put Bailey's in them. They were SO good.
The next day, Jordan had a bit of a crisis because her ATM card wasn't working anywhere. Finally, she found one that worked. We got on a bus to go to Leshan, where the giant Buddha is. We had to take a local bus to get to the actual park. There was a big line to go down to see the Buddha, so we walked around a bit before waiting to go down. It was pretty cool. They carved it straight down in the cliff, 71 meters all the way to the water. We didn't have much time to enjoy it, since we were worried we wouldn't make the last bus back to Chengdu. Luckily we did make it.
|Giant Buddha, along the river in Chengdu, dumpling party at the hostel|
Kit visited another national park for a couple days, but it was expensive so we decided not to go. We spent the next few days mostly living life, finding our favorite places to walk to and eat, catching up with people at home, and taking a cooking class. We made tofu and eggplant. It was yummy and the lady who taught us was so cute! I walked to Tianfu Square and the People's Park on our last day.
Finally, it was time to catch our 2-day train to Lhasa. We stayed longer in Chengdu than we meant to, but it was a good place to catch up on everything we needed to do. I also got sick there and was hoping resting would help me get better, but I was still sick on the train and in Lhasa.