September 12, 2011

Beginnings in Chengdu

Catching up with posts from our first weekend:  The bus from the airport took us right to our hostel, located in a bustling neighborhood marked by the touristy Jinli Alley, the Wu temple complex, Tibetan shops and many stores carrying Western brand name camping gear. The first evening we took a bus to a nearby park to observe the wide variety of evening activities there, including water-brush calligraphy, dancing, boating, board & card games, and many conversations. After supper, we went to Tianfu Square in the centre of Chengdu where Chairman Mao greeted us before we headed back to the hostel for a good night’s rest.

The next morning we were up bright and early, trying to beat the morning rush-hour traffic enroute to Chengdu’s panda breeding research center. We joined many others in line to see this year’s tiny newborns carefully tended in incubators (no pictures allowed of these), and also saw a number of older pandas and several other animals including red pandas. Before leaving we visited the information facility to learn more about research into panda breeding and genetics.

After leaving the pandas, we visited the Wenshu Buddhist monastery, dedicated to Manjushri, the boddhisatva (god) of wisdom. The lush vegetation of the gardens provided some relief from the rising heat. Lunch in the nearby market district gave us opportunity to sample a range of dumplings (jiaozi, wontons, baozi) and assorted other little treats. Many of us liked them all, all of us liked at least some. Some of us ate more than we planned.

Note: We are glad to be able to enrich this and future blogs with some images generously shared by students.

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