Pandas, Buddhas and Sunshine
04.03.2009 - 08.03.2009 14 °C
After another overnight, 18 hour train journey we arrived in Chengdu. Admitingly the journey was actually pretty comfortable as we had a 4 bed compartment to ourselves, it was nice to be in relative comfort for the first time on a train. Anyway, Chengdu. Another of China's supercities, but this one was a little bit different and you can defininately tell that we are heading south. Gone are the incescent grey hues that have painted pretty much everything so far. The city was instead painted with green, trees and palms lined the wide roads and made for a most welcome change, even the air quality seemed a little better in Chengdu. Sun, finally some sun! T-shirt weather, such a joy to behold it makes everything seem that little bit better.
As soon as we got to our hostel, which turned into one of our favourite accomodations so far but more on that aside later, we decided just to crash for the day and do nothing. There was a DVD player in the room and a large dvd library so an afternoon of slobbing became our well deserved break from the hustle and bustle of travelling through China. We booked ourselves onto a tour for the next morning to the Giant Panda Research Base just outside of Chengdu.
The tour was the first one that we had done on the trip having made our own way to the sites for everything else but it was cost effective and less hassle to take the tour. The Base was great, much better than i was expecting it to be, we arrived at feeding time for the Pandas, which granted is generally most of the day having to eat a thrid of their body weight every day in bamboo, but it was great. The Pandas were generally only a few feet away from us and there were no metal bars blocking the views, after watching the adults feed we moved onto the babies. Oh my god, cute just isnt an apt enough adjective to use, the little tykes were enough to make me go all gooey and want to talk baby-speak to them, but dont tell anybody eh? Hopefully I will be able to get some pics up of the Pandas soon.
On the tour we met another couple, Mark and Liv, from London and Norway respectively whom we got on well with and spent most of the next couple of days with checking out Chengdu and the sites, they were coincidently on the same general southern route that we ourselves are on. Thanks for a cool couple of days guys, it was great.
The most impressive place that I have seen so far in China was our next destination, Leshan, the site of the largest Buddha on the planet (233ft tall), an impressive moniker and for once it actually lives up to its hype. A single toe of this Buddha is the length of a human being, just for you to try and grasp some scale. Its truely epic to behold. If that wasnt enough, the park that it is in is easily the most beautiful thing I have seen so far on this trip, the Buddha is carved into a riverside cliff and is just a little part of a lush green mountain with countless bamboo thickets and cypress trees everywhere. There were many temple complexs dotted about the mountain and bonsai gardens. Again I will try to get some pictures up when I can but until then, google Leshan to get some sort of idea.
Im am currently typing in a mountain city called Lijiang, 2000ft above sea level. And preparing for a 3 day hike along one of the deepest gorges in the world, but more about that another day.