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No One Should Visit Chengdu without Seeing the Panda Park: Part III in my China Travel Journal

As little as I knew about China, I knew even less about the second city to which I traveled: Chengdu. I primarily visited Chengdu to meet with Huawei’s storage research and development division.

However, Huawei only formally scheduled me to meet with its R&D team all day on Friday. As such, I hoped I could figure out a way to visit a few Chengdu tourist attractions over the weekend.

Turns out, Huawei was way ahead of me. My host revealed to me on Friday that our group would spend Saturday doing exactly that. We were to see the pandas, visit the Dujiangyan Scenic Area, and then enjoy Hot Pot for our evening meal.

A Change of Plans

Our Saturday plans called for us to initially visit the Dujiangyan Scenic Area, home to the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. While that sounded impressive, being the non-expert in Chinese geography and history that I am, it meant nothing to me. However, the Saturday morning rain to which we woke up changed our plans.

We had planned to see the pandas at the Dujiangyan Panda Base in the afternoon. However, the tour guide that Huawei hired to take us to these exhibits suggested we see the pandas first. Apparently, pandas love the rain and become more active in it. So, our group of five set off to visit the pandas in the morning rain.

The Panda Park Entrance

In arriving at the park, one first must navigate the line of street vendors to enter it. These vendors hawk all items that featured pandas.  These range from coffee mugs to T-shirts to keychains to stuffed pandas. Further, as a grandfather with a granddaughter and grandson, I was sorely tempted to buy some tchotchkes.

However, our tour guide promised us she would take us to a place where could buy more affordable souvenirs. So, I took her at her word. I bravely trudged past the long line of food and tchotchke vendors to get to the park entrance.

Panda Base Entrance

Entering the park itself also was noteworthy only because one must present one’s ID to enter. So, some advice for anyone looking to go to China and visit any of its national park exhibits. Bring your passport with you everywhere you go. You likely need to present it in to visit any exhibits or parks run by government agencies.  

Pandas Up and About in the Saturday Morning Rain

Black Swan PictureA beautifully landscaped pond immediately greeted me once I entered. It was graced with black swans and white peacocks and surrounded by rare flowers and waterfalls. However, I was here to see pandas, not flowers and peacocks. So, I veered off to the left to follow a trail that took me to the main event: the pandas.

White peacocks and waterfall

I did not have to walk very long before encountered some of the about 40 pandas living at the park. I found them involved in two main activities: sleeping and eating. The first few I encountered were sleeping but I soon came upon some happily munching on bamboo.

Panda Pic 3Bamboo is everywhere in this park. It grows on each side of the trail on which we walked. It grew where the pandas lived. Literally, once in the park, one could not go anywhere without seeing the bamboo.

All this bamboo suits the pandas well. According to our tour guide, the average panda eats about 20 kg, or over 40 pounds, of bamboo a day. I can now understand why pandas spend all their time eating and sleeping. After eating 40 pounds or 20 kilograms of bamboo, I would be ready for a nap as well.

Red Pandas?!

Red Panda Pic 4Visiting a panda park, I certainly expected to see black and white pandas. I certainly did not expect to encounter red pandas. However, the last pandas I saw as I exited the park were the red pandas.

Red pandas more closely resemble raccoons than the black and white pandas in the rest of the park. They are about the same size as raccoons and apparently eat food other than bamboo. The red pandas I saw were chowing down on some squash left out on a feed platform by the park staff.

Next Up: Dujiangyan Scenic Area and My Hot Pot Dining Experience

There is more that I want to share about my time touring the sites of Chengdu. I specifically want talk about the Dujiangyan Scenic Area and my Hot Pot dining experience. (Turns out, Chengdu is the birthplace of Hot Pot.) However, I will have to save those experiences for a forthcoming blog post as I must focus on some other DCIG related work this week. If you have not yet read my previous two posts about my recent travels to China you may find them at these links:

Part I: China, Here I Come!
Part II: 3 Eventful Days in Shenzhen

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