Pandas and Ancient Stuff

Trip Start Jan 28, 2008
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Trip End Feb 09, 2008


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Where I stayed
Ke Hua Yuan Hotel

Flag of China  ,
Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Ke Hua Hotel had a great breakfast buffet that we enjoyed everyday. A wide variety of Chinese noodles, vegetables, steamed buns with various fillings, egg and green onion pancake things, tea, peanut milk and my favorite, hot Tang. After breakfast we walked to the West Gate of Sichuan University to get a ride to the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Facility. Dylan had arranged a driver through a local hostel. Our driver, Mister Lo, arrived at 8 am in a van locally known as a 'bread car'. See photo for why - it looks like a loaf of bread. Mister Lo drove us 30 minutes to the pandas. We spent the morning wandering the park and watching the pandas eat bamboo. It was early on a cool morning and they were happy to sit in a big piles of bamboo and just eat like crazy. They loved to pose for the camera and you could hear the chomping. The Chinese word for panda is shiong mao, meaning 'bear cat'. We watched a movie about the breeding facility and after that the cubs were out. The best job in the world has to be playing with roly poly panda bear cubs while wearing blue paper suits. See videos. If you pay a fee you can even put on one of these suits and actually hold a giant panda. This was really tempting but just too expensive for us (about $150 US). (Our whole morning, including the driver and admission fee, cost the equivalent of $10 US, total for 4 people.)
More info here: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/sichuan/chengdu/p anda-breeding-and-research-center.htm

We returned to Chengdu and Dylan took us to Sabrina's Country Store, which sold anything Western - Pop Tarts, Triscuits, etc. Barbara bought Pepperidge Farm cookies, Kyle bought Nerds. Prices were probably double what you would pay in America. We had lunch at a busy noodle shop near the hotel, everyone sat outside though it was about 35 degrees. Cheap and tasty. Kyle experienced his first 'tongue-numbing pepper'. The Sichuan Province is known for its spicy food, most of which we really liked. But this particular pepper was a bit much. After lunch we took a taxi to the Jinsha Site Museum. The museum was built over an excavation site which was discovered six years ago in the northwestern suburbs of the city. It houses artifacts from the ancient Shu culture (3rd century) and we saw many carved figurines, jade relics, pottery, jewelry and the like, many with the Immortal Sunbird symbol. It was an interesting museum located in a large beautiful park. Look it up for more info.

We took a taxi back to the hotel and for dinner we had Italian food at Casa Mia. It was decent food although the service was not great. Back to hotel and to bed.
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