Job 37:7-8 “So that everyone He has made may know his work,he stops all people from their labor. The animals take cover; they remain in their dens.” (NIV)
Chengdu, China, a city of 15 million after a delayed flight was our destination. Chengdu is on the “Silk Road of South China”, gateway to Tibet, larger in population than New York or London, and is a medical and dental training center. We walked six miles today through a city of few Westerners after our guide and driver; Gretyl and Jerry picked us up at the airport. Two other “big noses” as we are called, passed us on the street. This is where the real Chinese live, similar to our large cities in the Midwest or “fly-over country”. Our guide directed us to an odd multi-storied shopping mall where the vendors are all in small stalls. A car dealership had Lamborghini, Ferrari and a strange Humvee straight out of Batman, on the sidewalk.
The highlight was finding a French restaurant near the mall serving Italian food in China. Ed had a pizza, and I ate a salmon sandwich with fries. Our first western food in seven days was heavenly. We had real coffee, not Nescafe instant, and a Honey Jasmine tea served with floating real flowers. We chose this restaurant over trying a Hot Pot dish of chili oil with duck intestines.
One thing draws tourists to Chengdu: Pandas. The Panda Breeding Center is home to 171 pandas in April 2017. There are 2000 more Pandas in the wild where the mothers give birth to up to three cubs. The mother picks the strongest one to survive and lets the others die. Here at the Panda Breeding Center, they save over 80% of the baby Pandas. They train them to be able to survive in the wild and then release them back to increase the native population.
The baby Pandas were very popular and they chase the zookeepers around, jump from tree to tree, slide down trees upside down, and are never still. The adolescent pandas are kept together after they are weaned from their moms. Chomp, Chomp, Chomp. This word was created to describe the sound of Pandas eating bamboo non-stop. They eat, and eat, and eat those bamboo stalks just like a teenage boy who is always hungry. The adults just lie on their backs or stomachs and relax. Their life is good, they are fed, and they breed. Their white fur is a dirty cream, and their eyes are circled with black fuzzy fur.
Red pandas are also bred here and are much smaller than Black and White Pandas. They have rings on their tails like a raccoon and are harder to find in their habitat. The sheer number of Pandas here was overwhelming and I never stopped smiling at their antics and beauty. You could stay all day and just watch these magnificent creatures.
Gretyl and Jerry took us to an archeological museum where I spotted my first gingko tree. We had searched for real gingko tablets for my dad in every city, but the pharmacist did not know of this very popular aid for memory in pill form as it is sold in the US. Hmmmm.
We visited to an old section of Chengdu, “Wide and Narrow Alleys” and had sticky rice balls, a local delicacy. There were vendors there who do nothing but clean your ears with a long stick and people selling all the trinkets you could want. We found a panda gift shop and completed our gift shopping.
Gretyl was hurting badly and felt sick so we were on our own for the evening. We tried a Chinese buffet across the street and had our only bad meal on the trip. We could not eat whatever it was that came off that buffet. Could. Not. Eat. We went to the 7-Eleven next to the hotel and bought chips, popcorn and beer for our supper. Yes, 7-Eleven joins KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds as familiar American brands throughout China, including Chengdu.
What are your favorite wild animals? Have you ever encountered a bear on a trail? What animals do you wish you could see in the wild?