Panda Breeding Centre

on Wednesday, 12 May 2010

This morning we were up early to visit the panda breeding centre. We had to leave early in order to catch the pandas while they were eating, we were told. There was 3 minibuses full of people leaving from our hostel, so quite a few people. We get chatting with a British couple called Ben and Alex and end up spending the day walking round with them. Today is Ben’s birthday. We are shown round the park and see loads of giant pandas, most of them just laying about eating and not doing much else. Apparently they eat for 16 hours a day on average. There is one enclosure with some baby pandas in and they are play fighting with each other and one chases the keeper around, the adults just lay there constantly eating though. We also see some red pandas which look more like racoons, but are apparently very rare. I buy a few souvenirs and we have a look round the museum. Our guide is just the driver and speaks very little English and the tour feels a bit rushed as we have to all stick together. It would probably be better just to get a bus or taxi by yourself and spend as much time as you like as it is not far from the city centre.

We get back to the hostel and just chill out, trying to decide what to do next. We eventually decide that as we can’t extend our Chinese visa in China as it is a Tibet/China visa, we will fly to  from Beijing and spend a week there, then fly back and do the rest of China. We are splitting up for the stage to Beijing and then will reunite to fly to Japan as we have to leave the country together.

We go out with Alex and Ben to a local hotpot restaurant to celebrate his birthday. To start with we have to go into the kitchen to choose the things we want. In the middle of the table there is a gas burner and a big metal dish. The idea is you cook your own food in two different rings, the outer being really spicy and the middle one more mild. We order pork and beef, with some vegetables, rice and a few other dishes including rabbits heart, which is actually quite nice. The meal is only 100Y for the four of us and that includes a beer, so is very reasonable. We return to the hotel and have a couple more beers and play some cards, before getting to bed at about one. Tomorrow we are travelling to Leshan to see the biggest Buddha in the world, at 71m tall.