After visiting the Nanlian Gardens and the Chi Lin Nunnery, Mia and I made a mad dash through Hong Kong and the neighboring mainland city of Shenzhen to get to our domestic flight’s airport. We made it to our gate about 5 minutes before boarding, a trend I am certain will continue on my trip. The flight from Shenzhen to Chengdu was quick and easy and when we landed, it really felt like we were in a different country. Suddenly, I could speak the language. Not English, but my Chinese finally came into use! In Hong Kong, the Cantonese dialect was so thick, that my Mandarin skills actually slowed me down, but no longer! I was able to barter with the best of them. For a late dinner, we discovered a new cuisine that I ate every night we had in Chengdu that was basically just spicy BBQ, but more on that later.

Things That Are Not Pandas: Downtown Chengdu

We had no time to waste as the next morning was the big morning of Chengdu. If the city of Chengdu means anything to you, it should mean PANDAS! The Chengdu Panda Reserve is the most famous Panda research facility in the world and the stars of the show turned out in force! When we woke up in the morning we were going to take a bus to the bus station and then grab a public tourist bus that would take about 2 hours to reach the base even though its still inside the city limits. Well we couldn’t find the second bus (and we later found out that it was cancelled for the day) so we met up with a lovely French Canadian couple named Frederic and Melanie and shared a speedy taxi with them. It was a good thing too because the pandas are fed at 9AM, and then they are happy and active for about an hour, and then they take a long nap starting at about 10. We got to the Panda Base at about 9:15! Perfect Timing!

Things That Are Not Pandas: Frederic and Melanie

The reserve itself feels nothing like a zoo, and more like, well, a reserve. It’s incredibly lush and full of winding paths that will get you lost and covered in bamboo groves. We ended up spending the whole morning with our new Canadian friends, speaking a little bit of French (but mostly English) as we saw the several different panda sanctuaries and boy do the pandas live up to their adorable reputation As usual, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

Sleepy Panda.

The panda on the right is literally rolling in his food he’s so happy eating.

A Red Panda – They look nothing like pandas, aren’t nearly as playful and giddy, and seem to be a little suspicious. Still cute.

After the Pandas, Mia and I went back to our hostel to take a nap. We just spent the afternoon wandering around Chengdu. We went to a lovely little teahouse in one of the parks where I learned to play gin a little too well. It was a relaxing evening before we geared up to go on a 2-day hike up Sichuan’s holy mountain – Emei Shan.

Our view from the teahouse.