Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  ,
Monday, August 21, 2006

"Save the Panda, they say... We are! We're not shooting them, we're not eating them, we're not hunting them... But they're not meeting us half way are they? They're not shagging!" -- Ricky Gervais

We found out to our delight that there is something even worse than sleeper buses and second class hard seats - namely a hard seat on a train without air conditioning. This was Chinese travel. Four rather laboured fans attached to the ceiling moved the thick air back and forth half-heartedly, and the sweat was pouring off us by the time we found our seats.

The Chinese on this train were well aware of it's rather low standing, and responded in kind by smoking, spitting and using the floor as a massive 'open plan wastebin'. A few hours into the fifteen hour journey the smell of apple cores and noodles happily composting on the floor gave the more delicate of nostril a challenge we would almost certainly lose.

As night fell so did the temperature, but only to about twenty five degrees. Also by this point, as we had been travelling for six hours, some of the Chinese around us actually stopped staring at us - they must have assumed that after six hours we really were not that interesting.

But we got to where we needed to be.

We checked into a very nice, cheap and eponymously titled guesthouse owned by a very pleasant and enthusiastic Singaporean called Sim. Later on we met up with the Belgians (who had arrived in Chengdu the night before us, and as Elke had left her iPod and Camera we were able to bring them along thus proving that the British are to be trusted on an international scale), gathered a random crew of ten or so randoms and hit the town, but as I've gone on about Chinese nightclubbing already I won't overstress the point.

I will mention a dance off between Vinny and a Chinese girl, that he won despite her pulling the Tollerton Classic "Big fish, little fish" out of the bag at the last minute much to Vinny's bafflement, as I had taught her earlier when he wasn't looking. And a night time kebab involving deep fried lettuce. But I won't go on about it.

The next day we went off to see the Pandas. This is really why people go to Chengdu, as it has the National Panda Breeding Centre where people fight the uphill struggle attempting to get Pandas to have it off with each other.

Pretty undersexed, as a species. They're only in the mood for three months of the year and even then they're not that fussed. When a panda has their first kid, they invariably don't know what it is and step on it - maternal instinct just being something that happens to other bears.

It was all exciting stuff when we were there, as two pandas had just been born. Funny things, baby pandas. About the size and appearance of a rat.

Despite the gentle beauty of these animals, and the significance of witnessing creatures that may well still, despite all efforts, be extinct in fifty years, you can't help but think they're a bit boring. Bless them, obviously. As they eat nothing but bamboo, not the most nutritious food stuff in the world, they have to spend half the day eating and the other half sleeping, conserving their little energy for the next big eat.

Great life.

Anyway, we had a few days in Chengdu and then went off to get our visas extended and see the biggest Buddha in the world, which Vinny's doing so I'm going to stop talking.

Most Used English Expressions Of The Moment:

I don't want to over-egg the pudding
That's put the cat amongst the pigeons
That guy's a cock
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