Monday, November 29, 2010

China Recap Part 3: Chengdu

If Xi'an wore us down a little bit, then Chengdu picked us right back up. We loved Chengdu- a lot! We had just 24 hours in this city, and the main attraction was PANDAS!!

We flew in from Xi'an in the morning and easily got a cab out to our hotel, The Buddah Zen Hotel. It was in a (kinda touristy, but didn't seem so relative to the major hubs we had just come from) Tibetan area that was really cool. The hotel was gorgeous and calm, our room located above a courtyard with a fountain and chirping birds. We were upgraded to a suite upon arrival (yeah!), and they even had a bowl of fresh, delicious apples waiting for us in our room. Perfect hotel!

After we cleaned up a bit, we walked around the streets of our neighborhood. Lots of street food, tea shops, and vendor after vendor selling ivory combs. The Washu Temple connected to a prominent Buddhist monastery was literally a block away, so we spent time wandering around there. It was gorgeous, but unfortunately I couldn't take pictures of the prettiest parts.

For dinner we wanted to try a vegetarian restaurant (The Floating Lotus) featured in the Lonely Planet guide and it looked like it was not too far away from our hotel on the map. We walked around for a while trying to find it with no luck. Finally after walking a giant circle, ending up right back where we started, Corey checked the guidebook to see the Chinese character name of the restaurant, looked up and said, "Oh, here it is!" It was right in front of us, literally connected to our hotel building. We felt dumb. It was a cool place- very Buddhist, complete with monks dining and only non-alcoholic beer served. We tried vegetarian hot pot, which was great.

We woke up early to have time to eat our free hotel breakfast before leaving for the pandas (after the debacle with getting to the Warriors in Xi'an we played it safe and just booked a private car through the hotel to get us there). Soon we were at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base.

PANDAS!! We saw big ones and small ones (very small ones- little 2 month olds in the nursery wobbling around), playful ones and sleepy ones.

Then the best part came... we got to hold one!

For a "donation" to the center, you get to take pictures with a "baby" panda (in quotes because while they're still babies, they can still be pretty darn big!). We got to hold him on our laps and he was so cute and cuddly! I fell in love. Definite highlight of the trip.

That was all we had time for during our brief stay in Chengdu, and after the panda center we were off to the airport to catch a plane to Shanghai. Stay tuned!


katherine said...

Oh my god those Pandas are so cute!!! I can't believe you go t to hold one! I want some of those pictures!

Michelle said...

How cool that you got to hold a panda!!!!! They are adorable!

Pete 'n Stephy said...

what the heck??? you got to hold a panda!!???? that is so awesome!! I am officially jealous!