At the train station in Mianyang on our way to Chengdu
Our friend Ray (left) and her friend. Ray was our ‘”tour guide” for the weekend.
The countryside between Mianyang and Chengdu. Mianyang and Chengdu are the two biggest cities in the Sichuan province.
The train ride is almost 2 hours long.
The architecture in Chengdu is interesting.
Outside of Ray’s grandpa’s house. He lives in a retired teacher’s community.
Ray and her grandfather walking to a tofu hot-pot restaurant.
Ray and her grandpa at the tofu hot-pot restaurant. Every time we eat hot-pot (which is quite regularly), we must request special vegetarian soup because it is usually made with beef broth.
Chendgu is home to a number of buildings devoted to clubs. This one was called the Mango Club and it was lit up like a Christmas tree.
Being greeted by a band of boys in matching light-up name badges has a certain wo bu zhi dao shenme.
Hey, sexy ladies.
Yes, Gangnam Style is pretty popular here.
Mi posing with greeters in animal costumes.
Cool brick sculpture in the courtyard near the Mango Club.
A restaurant by the river.
View from the bridge before a night on the town.
Kelly “enjoying” a “margarita.” (bad tequila mixed with lime juice)
At one bar we went to that night, drinks were served like this: the whole bottle was brought to the table strapped to a huge sparkler. In true China fashion- any occasion is a good occasion for fireworks.
The next day, we walked through this narrow alley to the street where we caught a Chengdu taxi that took us to the Panda sanctuary.
Chengdu, like many cities in China, is rapidly growing and changing.
The panda center has these wonderful rope bridges that take you to the enclosures. Mi, obviously, was enjoying the Indiana Jones moment.
The first pandas we’ve ever seen in real life are babies!
Pandas evolved from being carnivores to subsisting almost completely on bamboo, a plant with virtually no nutrients, which means that they have to spend about 16 hours per day eating and not moving so they won’t burn the precious few calories they ingest.
Panda in Chinese is xióng māo, which literally translates to bear cat.
This panda is asleep in the moat that surrounds the panda enclosure. We are almost positive that it rolled over in its sleep into the moat and continued to sleep where it landed.
Smiles all around. Pandas are on the endangered species list because there are only an estimated 2,000 individuals left in the wild, and that is on the high end. There are about 240 pandas living in captivity in China and 27 in captivity in other countries.
This is a red panda. They are related to raccoons, skunks, and weasels. Like the panda, they are a vulnerable species with fewer than 10,000 mature animals in the world.
Red pandas have a waddling gait because their front limbs are shorter than their back ones.
Surprisingly, there are man-made holes in the chain link fences which allow the red pandas to move from one side of their enclosure to the other. This makes for some beautiful experiences.
This keeper walked through the enclosure handing out bowls of food (apple slices and what looked like ground beef) to the hungry red pandas. As she walked from feeding platform to feeding platform, she called to them in Chinese (Ray translated and she was basically asking them to come down from wherever they were to get their lunch). This was a particularly eager red panda that decided that it couldn’t wait for her to bring the food to the viewing platform.
This is where the newborn pandas are incubated.
We visited Ray’s high school which is the oldest school in the area dating back over 2500 hundred years.
A man getting his ears cleaned the traditional way.
People’s Park is a happening gathering spot on the weekends. Families doing a variety of activities.
At the end of the day, we enjoyed some hot-pot.
We will be going to Beichuan soon. Beichuan is where a 7.8 earthquake hit in 2008. The old town has turned into what the foreign teachers describe as a post apocalyptic amusement park. Stay tuned for the next post!