Journals from China Studies Institute, Beijing
2012-12-10 Stop Three: Chengdu
One of the many panda enclosures in Chengdu
I think it is safe to say that pandas are the cutest animals on the planet, along with penguins! Chengdu is the home of the panda here in China. On December 3rd, we arrived in Chengdu. It was only the fifth day of the study trip and we were on our third city. We have traveled non-stop around China and will continue to travel for another week. On the day that we arrived in Chengdu, we got settled into our hotel and had the night off. This was the third hotel we have stayed at, all not having internet or having a very weak connection. As a college student, I live off of the internet and during free time, I was unable to even check my email. After we settled into our hotel room, some people from my group and I walked around the town and explored. Chengdu is in the Sichuan province. This province is known for having some of the spiciest food in China. I can barely eat salsa without my eyes watering. For dinner, we all went to eat hot pot. Luckily there was a table for non spicy food so I was able to live through that night! The people that ate at the spicy tables were sweating, some crying. I had a small taste of their dish and lost the feeling in my lips for a good hour.
The next day we went on a three-hour bus drive to Leshan to visit the Giant Buddha. The Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya sitting. This is the most renowned scenic spot in Leshan City. The statue is approximately 233 feet high and appears to have been carved from the side of a mountain. I have never seen such a large statue in my life. It was carved with so much detail, such as the toenails and the detail in the hair. Along with the Giant Buddha, you could hike around and visit caves and pagodas. It is definitely a site to see and I recommend anyone visiting Chengdu to make the trip to visit the Giant Buddha. It was worth the workout of climbing all of the stairs.
On our last day in Chengdu, we visited the Panda Research Base and Giant Panda Breeding Center. I have never seen so many pandas in my life. The research base has elements of a veterinary lab, a park, a panda habitat, and a zoo. This is one of the best places to see giant pandas. Pandas are given huge enclosures and live in a habitat similar to what they would live in if they were in the wild. Along with the type of panda that so many are used to seeing, I also got to see red pandas. They have an appearance similar to a large raccoon but have the cute features of a panda. We walked around for hours seeing pandas of different sizes and colors. I think I took more pictures at the panda base than any other place in China. After leaving the panda base, we took to the bus to Jinli Street where we got the opportunity to eat street food and shop. I had the best lamb I have ever had on that street for less than $1 usd. This street is a great place to eat, shop, and go on a walk. Straight from eating and shopping, we took the bus to the airport to board our plane to our next destination: Guilin.