Chengdu China is famous for the Panda Breeding and Research center .
Yes we went there and enjoyed those rolly-polly cuties.
But Chendgu is alsos the closest city to the worlds largest Buddha.
In all my travels I have seen more Buddhas than 95% of the Buddhists in the world. Included in that accomplishment is the world’s smallest Buddha,in Sri Lanka.
We drove over two hours from Chengdu because, well, when you have seen the smallest, when you have seen the world’s largest sleeping Buddha, the world’s largest jade buddha and on and on, you just have to see the world’s largest. It was a wonderful drive. China has excellent roads and the countryside reminded me of maybe Vermont. I do not know what I expected, but I was surprised by what I saw.
Normally, when you get there you take a boat, across the river, to the feet of this big guy. But we got there after almost a week of heavy rain, and the river was full of floating trees, which endangered the boats, So I had to settle for the long distance photo above.
So we went back to Chengdu and got all excited about our visit in the morning to see the Pandas.
In the hotel room, I found this.
Most tourists come to Chengdu, see the Pandas and leave. I would have come for the Buddha, but definitely the Pandas could not be missed.
This is the world’s preeminent panda center, (if not the only one). Almost every panda in zoos around the world was born here, or born of parents born here. The center keeps some of the pandas away from humans because they eventually want to set them free into the wilds. Many however are tourist attractions. This tourist trade generates a large portion of the operating budget.
The center is happy if the the pandas reproduce naturally, and they also artificially inseminate them when they do not. They have a video you can watch which includes collecting panda semen. Yes, you need a degree for that job.
Just because they are so cute I will treat you to a few more Panda shots. No comments needed
We went out for lunch at a wonderful Hot Pot restaurant. Hot Pot is the best way to eat in China, chopsticks down. Now I admit I am not the most observant person in the world, but I should have noticed that my wife, who was not only ignoring the food, was just about passed out in her rice bowl. Our guide, Kevin, from China Highlights Tours took over and insisted that Mary Ann see a doctor. He knew of an excellent western style clinic. Her doctor was from Massachusetts.
I asked one our guides if he had ever seen a blue sky. He said he could not remember, or remember seeing the stars. I asked one guide if the people ever protested about the air quality. The response was when it is really bad most people will wear the surgical masks you see pictures of. I responded “that isn’t an act of protest, it is survival.” I seriously doubt you can get an environmental science degree from a Chinese University. As far as I know, China has never acted to restrain capitalism with anything as drastic as a clean air or water initiative. This is what happens with unbridled capitalism, take that Republicans! I risked imprisonment when I told a guide “It does not matter how rich you are if you cannot breathe the air.”
We were supposed to go to Shanghai and then take the bullet train back to Beijing, but our trip to China was now over. We spent three days in our nice 5 star hotel room while Mary Ann recuperated.
Actually, we had one more thing to do. With plenty of time after our checkout, the guide asked us how we wanted to spend the time. We both said “the Apple store.” Chengdu is where IPADs are manufactured. Going to the factory was of course out of the question, so went to the mall where a brand new Apple store was open. It was not the adult Disneyland that the Apple store in NYC is, but they did have all the latest toys, and the experts to demo them.
I got the IOS on my IPAD updated by a young Chinese nerd who laughed at the version I was running like it was ancient history.
The upgrade took forever, and during the wait, Mary Ann bought a new IPAD mini.
My next post will be a foodie special. The food was really good everywhere we went. I’ll include some comments and photos about the beer of course which was more than good.
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