Where's Tai?

"And I still haven't found what I'm looking for"

Day 51-54 Chengdu: Black and white couch potatoes July 8, 2010

Filed under: Travelling — Tai @ 5:06 pm

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Pandas have to be the laziest animals I have ever seen.  If they’re not sleeping, then they’re thinking about sleeping. 

Planned to be here for 2 days at the most, but because I need to sort the Tibet visa I was here for 4 days.   This is the famous panda city. Just on the edge of town is the Panda research centre, where you can see them in large enclosures.  They seem pretty tame.  The cubs are great value, but have to say they are the laziest creatures I have ever seen.  They sleep most of the day and when they are awake they just eat.  They find that a chore because they’re so drowsy from sleeping.  Saw one being operated on.  Felt sorry for the big fella.  These fellas should actually be carnivorous but 99% of their diet is bamboo.  There are a couple of hundred in captivity around the world (mostly china) and a couple of thousand in the wild in china.  They are loners and only generally come together for mating and then the male takes off again while the female raises the cub.  hmmm – good or bad???.

In some of the old breeding programmes the pandas lose interest in mating when they are captured.  So some programmes resorted to panda porn (films of other bears mating to get them excited) and viagra.  (So many parallels with the human world). 

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Also jumped a bus to Leshan.  A small town with a Taoist monastery.  Very picturesque.  They made one really big Buddha here. You walk down these stairways to the base of the Buddha to pray.  Then there is a monastery with 1000 more Buddhas on the hill. 

Coming back from the walk I came across a Chinese family.  They had a beautiful little girl who must have been the only child, she was a proper little princess and drama queen. 

Was doing the planning for the trip to Tibet and met Liz.  A Irish lass who teamed up with me to form our own official tour group.  To get into Tibet you need to go as a “tour group”.  Which can be 1 or more people.  The agency then gets you a Tibetian visa so you can enter the region. All a bit of a scam, but it is law, so I guess it isn’t a scam, just expensive.  You can only get a 8 day visa to Tibet and they tend to close them off during controversial times – Olympics…  It is very hard to stay longer than 8 days and you need to be very specific on your movements in Tibet.  Checkpoints stop people travelling without guides.  Anyway we got it sorted.  Was about US$ 540 plus train for 780 yuan for 8 day tour with driver and guide.  It was a bit of a mission to sort it all.  Our agent was a bit dodgy and in the end we had to sit her down and double check everything.  They were trying to charge exorbitant commission rates hidden in the pricing.

Liz and I had a couple of good nights out with the local in Chengdu.  The day I went to see the pandas I was not very communicative.    

Is an interesting place, but wouldn’t come back.

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