'Heaven and Hell'....
Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
47Trip End Aug 02, 2013
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So, Wednesday was panda day. Got there early and it was basically like a small panda zoo. Quite a lot of pandas in different enclosures and getting there early paid off because they all rushed out to eat!! Brilliant.....they were good value, play-fighting and climbing trees. Infact, they're almost like humans in 'panda costumes' with some of their tendencies!! They have a breeding program there as numbers of pandas in the wild are dwindling and they seem to be lacking in maternal instinct. We watched a short film about pandas and it showed a mummy panda giving birth there at the centre. The pup was tiny and was squeaking and thrashing it's head about, the mother seemed confused and was pawing it like a cat would play with a mouse. After a few minutes the mother walked away from the pup and the park staff rushed into the cage and removed the pup in order to care for it. The pups are given human milk formula and looked after in a nursery and spend a few hours a day with their mums. The Chinese non-queueing system took effect when viewing the baby pandas, but that didn't take the shine off a decent morning!! A conversation with a nice Chinese lady taught us a bit about the language aswell. Kids are first taught Chinese words or 'Pinyin'. It is not until a bit later that they are taught the symbols, of which you need to know 3000 of them just to read a newspaper, and there are a whopping 9000 in total!!
So, a couple more China observations...when you order a meal, your meat, veg and rice/noodles are on the menu as separate dishes. They bring out whatever is cooked first and you are just to start eating when they bring the first dish. In one restaurant we had a plate of broccoli for about 15 minutes before anything else was brought to us!!! I suppose it makes every meal a three courser!! Something else that we just can't get our heads around is babies and toddlers wearing crotchless pants with no nappies!! We have not had the pleasure of seeing this in practice but Laura and Michael said that on four or five occasions they have been in a subway station waiting for a train and a mother has held her baby over a BIN for it to have a number 2!! We have read that it is to cut down on disposable nappy waste but we can think of other ways! And imagine the draught when the wind picks up!!!
From Chengdu, we headed north again for a few days to a National Park called Jiuzhaigou, famed for its beautiful blue lakes, picturesque autumn foliage and enormous mountains!! It did not disappoint!!! The journey took us through the epicentre of the deadly Sichuan earthquake of 2008, that killed an estimated 68,000 people. The Chinese government have pumped 1 trillion Yuan into rebuilding the local towns and they seem to be taking shape. That said, remains of broken bridges and even a car under a boulder at one point still act as a harrowing reminder
With not much else to do in Jiuzhaigou than the park itself, Saturday was.....read book outside.....cat meeowed.....read book inside! After a power cut and more terrible service from our hostel (worst yet) we boarded the bus the following morning for what should have been a 10 hour journey back to Chengdu. 13 HOURS later and with 'sleep dribble' on the left hand side of my t-shirt (I hope nobody saw me!!) we arrived back in Chengdu. Although we are struggling with the language we discovered that some words have universal meaning! As our bus driver slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting an oncoming truck, the whole bus shouted 'WHHHOOOOOAAAAAAAA'!!!
From here, Guilin - 26 hours train journey! Soft sleeper of course!!