Trip Start Aug 12, 2007
Trip End Sep 28, 2007

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, September 1, 2007

1/9 Helen Arrived in Chengdu, immediately I like this place, it seems to have a calmness that other Chinese cities seem to lack. Wide leafy boulevards and lots of peaceful parks. We spent around 3 days in Chengdu while we sorted our Pass and flights for Tibet. Our first night we decided to experience the Sichuan Opera, and somehow managed to nearly get front seats. As it was a Saturday night we were treated to the variety performance, which essentialy is the 'best bits' of the rest of the week - including fire eating,
Puppet show, acrobatics, dance routines, Girls juggling just about anything with their feet  and the traditional Opera.

It is definately a feast of colours and noises, and luckily we had english translations too. The changing masks dance was my favourite, this is where the dancer changes the mask on his face (to match his emotions) to a different colour so fast you dont even see it happen... Just like Magic!

Of course whilst in Chengdu, we had to see the Pandas!!
Who couldnt! I entered the sanctuary thinking they would be just a black and white coloured bear, with similar charecteristics and personality. How wrong I was, they are the cutiest, laziest, fluffiest animals I have seen. We went at feeding time to capture them lazily stretched out on their backs, rolling around, eating bamboo and dangling from tree branches. Pandas are that lazy, they rarely have enough energy even for wonder there are only around 1000 left in the world! However we were privelaged enough to see twin 1 week old baby Pandas...usually one of the babies will die as the mum can only care for one at a time. How cute!


We caught the bus out to Leshan to see the Worlds Largest Bhudda, carved straight into the side of the cliff face. This guy is BIG, I mean HUGE! A human being is as tall as his little toe, I dont think even the photos do it justice! I think he is on a similar scale to the statue of liberty, if that helps you picture it.
Steps run down alongside of the Bhudda all the way down from his head to his toes, moss, and plants have started growing over parts of the body. The fact that this is cut into a sheer rockface makes it more spectacular.

That night we decide to brave the famous chengdu hotpot, well, Andrew is now better so cant do too much harm. The waitress asks us if we would like it 'spicy hot' and in unision I say NO, no chillies! at the same time as Andrew says Yes, very HOT! The waitress looks from one of us to the other, and calmly suggests we go for the half and half option. We are given a big bowl filled with bubbling fierry chilli oil in the centre and boiling broth round the outside in which we place our raw veg and meat ingrediants (similar to a large fondue), and cook our meal ourselves. Yummy !

We manage to book our flight out of Chengdu to Lhasa for 2100 yuan (about 140 quid), including the Tibet Travel Permit and with much excitement we are on our way up to the mountains! 
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