I've been in Sichuan for a week now, I've also been in Chengdu for almost a week with a three day gap, this is partly because I didn't know what to do and secondly because there is a public holiday on, five days long so going anywhere is a massive hassle, we shall see how busy it gets later on. This time though I should be able to wrangle a photo blog diary update! excited?
A step by step account of Chengdu, Le Shan and Mt Emei.
First up a trip to the Panda's, here we learnt about the breeding programs - Male Panda's are sedated and then massaged with 'electric stimulation'. Fun. Anyway there were many Panda's hanging out in the reserve, mostly eating, with a few younger ones sleeping in trees.
Second day in Chengdu and it was a cycle tour time, usually the best way to get to see a city. Despite the crazy traffic, we all survived and ended the day in a very Sichuanese style spending too long drinking green tea in the Bamboo park. Other sites we saw included a church(Chinese on the outside, normal on the inside) a statue of Mao and a market with alligator meat and snakes for sale.
In the tea garden place you could get your ears cleaned, the impliments the people who do this carry, you wouldn't want anywhere near your ears!
Next up time to leave the city for Le Shan, Home of the Big Buddha. Photos shows this best. Then a quick bus trip the bottom of Mt. Emei for a two day trekking excursion. I slept on the mountain and walked about 40km plus over two days. Sleeping in a temple for one night. I met many Chinese and very few westerners walking the route, I also met some unruly monkeys - I had been warned about these monkeys from a couple of Danish girls in the hostel (they ate rice with ketchup :s) one of the monkeys had bitten her and stolen her Oreo's so I bought a stick which I have named "dragon beats monkey". The mountain itself is forested and very foggy, at the top it was snowy and icy. The Chinese family who I had bunked with and walked some of the way bought me a red Buddhist bracelet, before I decided I had walked enough and didn't fancy another cold wet night on the mountain and got the cable car back down to the bus stop.
After I returned to Chengdu I went on the countryside walking trek organised by the hostel, to call it a trek is a laugh after what I'd just done. It was basically an easy two hour jaunt around a country park(imagine Ashton Court) - The real fun was visiting 'Ancient Street' a typical Chinese tourist road selling nothing but souvenirs and mock costumes to take photos of yourself in. This being holiday weekend, was absolutely rammed (as shown below), it also meant that quite a few Chinese not so accustomed to westerners were set to take photos of us. We milked this and happily posed with them jokily charging five kuai (50p) a picture, one girl actually gave me some money but I gave it back. It was very fun being the centre of attention, its easier to enjoy the photo taking if you embrace it, I also took photos of the Chinese taking photos of us.
Thats most of the stuff I have done in Sichuan, one last thing Hot Pot... A big bowl of Chilli's and oil in which you cook your own food. Quite fun and entertaining, tonight I am going to traditional Sichuanese Opera which involves mask changing and fire breathing apparently. After that I will have the other good food in Chengdu, BBQ - also very spicy.
Tomorrow at the bright early time of 730am I am off to Songpan for Horse Trekking, and I am also tentatively looking into going to Tibet... Interesting times now I have a little direction again...
Until next time :D