My host family took me to the Giant Panda Research Centre (its other official name that appears on much of the literature: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding—I don’t know if I’m comfortable using the word breeding that many times in a single blog post). This was one thing that I knew I must do during my time in Chengdu, and needless to say I was excited about it. One of my dear friends, who is a fairly zealous animal-lover, would have been whole-heartedly chagrined if I did not visit the pandas while in Chengdu.
My family does not own a car. I appreciate this because it gives me experience navigating the bus system when we go places (or, alternatively, provides adequate exercise). It was a very long bus trip, which gave me plenty of time to make more observations about Chengdu and China.
Upon arriving, it was lunchtime; my family didn’t want to purchase expensive food from the restaurant inside the park, so we asked if there was one nearby. We were pointed down the road, and after a walk, we find a woman selling buckets of instant noodles, pouring boiled water in them upon each order. Nothing more. So for lunch, I believe I ate the Chinese equivalent to Ramen noodles. And what’s worse? I ate the Chinese equivalent to Ramen noodles with a fork. It was a remarkably foreign feeling.
|The one adult panda I saw |
was sleeping indoors.
I knew going in that I wouldn’t see everything. A friend went the weekend previous and informed me that a lot of the pandas are lazy or hiding indoors when the weather is hot. And like every day this time of year in Chengdu, it was hot.
Walking around the park was a joy, regardless. I was super disappointed initially because one of the red panda exhibits was completely closed; however, the second was open. It was amusing to see tons of park visitors, Chinese or otherwise, running along the sidewalks along the exhibit to catch a good photo of the red panda that scampered by.
|I couldn't believe it, so I got proof|
Random: Outside of the red panda exhibit, there was a peacock in a tree. I didn’t know peacocks could climb trees.
If there’s a moral to my story, it is that pandas are adorable. If you take anything from this post, let it be that. It was a wonderful day walking around. At the end of the day, we bought ice cream cones, and the top of mine fell on the ground. It was pretty sad.
I did manage to create one minor scene, because I didn’t have the foresight to figure out the Chinese word for what I wanted before I opened my stupid mouth. At one of the gift shops, I was perusing their wares, and wondered aloud if they had patches—my satchel could always use another one.
My little host brother speaks a tad bit of English. Not a lot: many simple verbs and a smattering of nouns. He wanted to help, so asked me what a “patch” was. He has a pocket, digital translator; it’s usually incredibly helpful. However, in this instance, I was worried. Patch could be a verb, and is probably more commonly a verb. When I was in Cairo, and they spoke fluent English, they didn’t understand “patch”. After I described it, I learned they typically called them badges. So fast-forward to now: I’m standing in a little gift shop. I am typically stared at, being a waiguoren—and a particularly tall, blonde one at that. However, now I’m slowing my words, simplifying my English in hopes of adequately describing “patch” after the digital translator is fruitless. A crowd is gathering. Li Yanxi hands me a magnet. My host mother comes over to try and help. She speaks more English, but is not fluent. After attempting another description—this time explaining it’s something I can sew—she asks if I need my clothing mended.
In the end, I walked away empty handed, and I gave some random Chinese folks a story to tell. There are no patches at the Giant Panda Research Centre, unless you count the black patches over their adorable eyes.
Also, I'm not fooling myself into thinking this is a post you're reading to enjoy my wit and banter, so below are more pictures from the day. I apologise in advance for their cluttered appearance. I am new to putting pictures in blogs, and therefore struggling trying to use the interface and layout the photos in an aesthetic way.
|I saw more peacocks that day than I've seen my entire life.|
|There was this amazing pool of fish that would lose |
their minds if someone threw in a piece of bread.
|One of my favourite pictures was this red panda sleeping in the tree.|