We flew into Chengdu and took a very confusing taxi ride to our hostel. The address on their website hadn’t been updated and our frustrated driver was losing his patience with us as we went in circles trying to explain where to go using our translation apps. We finally found a phone number and were able to sort it out, and our driver could not have been happier to have us out of his car. To be quite honest, we were just as happy to get to the hotel and settle in.
Chengdu was sort of a midway stop on the way to Zhangye and we didn’t have much planned there other than eating a lot of spicy food, which ended up being a good thing because I got sick with something that had me sleeping for 12 hours a day. It took about four days to get out of my system and during that time Rach was eager to find soups and take care of me.
I felt kind of bad that she was cooped up in the room with me for so long, but I know she wanted me to rest. As soon as I was feeling up to it, we ventured into the city and walked around a tech area and explored endless levels of electronics, gadgets and gizmos. With each floor that we went up, it would get a little bit darker and instead of stores it was just desks where people were repairing items and selling things that they had found or no longer needed.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we found our way to another area called Chunxi Road that had beautiful pedestrian roads that were lined with shops from high end Gucci to underground bargain markets.
There was beautiful architecture, art installations of giant pandas that were climbing over the buildings and a rich atmosphere that captivated us as we got lost in the walkways.
We got some great restaurant recommendations from the staff and were able to walk over to the area and eat some of the most authentic dumplings, noodles and deserts Chengdu has to offer.
We extended our stay on account of my sickness and ended up doing a day tour that took us to the giant stone Buddha and to see the Pandas which Chengdu is famous for.
During the tour we met a couple of Columbian/Canadians who were living in China and teaching english. They were super nice and it was a lot of fun to talk to some people whose first language was english, It’s amazing how being understood can be taken for granted. During our visit to the sanctuary there were a bunch of people looking at Rach and pointing, so she went over and offered to take a picture with the kids. Before I could say anything five or six more people came over and waited to take a photo with her.
It took us about an hour to get to the giant Buddha and we were glad we went there first because as we were leaving, what looked like more than 2,000 people were lining up to walk down the stairs to the base of the monument.
The panda sanctuary was closer to our hotel and we stopped on the way back to admire the beautifully comical animals. We were a little disappointed that we only got to see them through glass windows but they were still adorable to watch as they ate, slept and rolled over to sleep some more.
For just over $400.00 Canadian you could get dressed in protective clothing and sit next to a panda for two minutes. Stop, there is a reason it is so expensive and there is a reason that you have to wear this gear. Many people don’t understand that pandas are very sensitive animals and ones that like to be alone most of the time. For the visitors that do decide to pay the absurd amount to interact with a panda, you’re not doing them a favour. You carry bacteria and other harmful things that could impact the animals negatively.
With that being said, we had an incredible time at the panda sanctuary and were really happy with the overall experience. Outside, we were lucky enough to have spotted a couple of the much smaller red pandas up in trees and even one on the ground who was playing with a peacock.
That night we went back to the authentic restaurant for dinner with our friends and enjoyed good conversation and many laughs over our amazing meal. The days were overcast and humid with scattered rain, which was to be expected as we learned that Chengdu doesn’t ever really get that much sun.
Chengdu was a really bright and interesting place to visit, we would be happy to go back and learn and see more of the culture, history and architecture.