Giant Panda's Bamboo Breakfast

Giant Panda's Bamboo Breakfast

The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is dedicated to conserve the red panda and the giant panda.  A light rain made our morning visit ideal for viewing some of the resident 78 pandas playing with one another, eating bamboo, and resting in trees.  Around 1,100 giant pandas still live in the wild.  In addition to struggling against diminished territory, these solitary creatures don’t have a strong reproductive drive and generally lack skills in rearing their young.  Giant pandas often give birth to two young, but select to rear only one.  In the controlled atmosphere of this Base, one of the young pandas is separated from the mother and given an opportunity to live.  The park-like atmosphere of this Base combines natural scenery and man-made landscapes to create humane living areas for these endangered creatures.  The following quotation by John Muir found along one of the trails in the Base contains an element of Taoism:

When one tugs at a single thing in nature,
he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

Our lunch restaurant was located on Kuanxiangzi Alley, a pleasant pedestrian walkway with fashionable shops offset with flowers and surrounded by shade trees.

The Taoist Green Ram Temple or Temple of the Two Immortals of Qingyang was built in the Zhou Dynasty but later gained a wealthy emperor benefactor during the Tang Dynasty.  The Eight Trigram Pavilion, the central temple, has several stone pillars covered with golden dragons.  A wall with the Chinese characters for happiness, longevity, and prosperity is a popular spot where one closes the eyes and gropes to touch one of the characters.  An amusement park sits adjacent to this temple, creating an odd juxtaposition.

Another new experience was a Chinese tea ceremony, an elaborate ritual where the utensils are cleaned and the tea is brewed in a specific orderly process using a lacquered tray that has a hole for draining water.  We learned that a teahouse is a place to relax and enjoy the leisure of life.

Our final stop in Chendu was Jinli Street, a narrow street with traditional-styled buildings, lined with shops selling curios in one direction and spots for purchasing snacks on another.

Before leaving Chengdu, let me mention that we stayed at five star hotels in each city except for Lhasa which was four star.  The most stylish of the hotels, however, was the Tibet Hotel in Chengdu.  The bathroom, for example, was located directly behind the bed’s wall and could be accessed through two doors, one on each side of the bed.  This long bathroom had separate shower, bathtub, and toilet.  The shower had an overhead rain fixture as well as a detachable shower fixture.  The bathtub also had a detachable shower fixture.  The light fixtures throughout were tasteful and small touches such as a live flower conveyed elegance.  The beds here and elsewhere, however, are much harder than Americans are accustomed to.  We were sorry to spend only one night in this room.

At the Chengdu airport we headed to gate C17, the scheduled departure gate for our flight to Xian, only to find that our flight was not listed on the board that announced departures for only C gates.  After inquiries, we discovered that our flight was departing from gate B5 which required walking some distance and left us wondering where a couple of members of our group were.  No need to worry, we’re flying to another important city, Xian.