This is the third and final instalment of my China odyssey, if you missed Beijing and Xian, give them a click and let me know what you think.
Chengdu was the next destination and there was only one thing on my mind. Pandas. However I had to be a bit more patient as we explored the city a bit before the main event.
Chengdu seemed a bit more up and coming than Xian and Beijing and I liked that. It felt more real somehow. We found ourselves in another park, sipping green tea and watching a barbaric method of ear wax removal. Yes you read that right. These wax guerrillas use wires and tongs and all manner of strange implements to clean your ears. It was very popular but I wasn’t going near. I like to think of myself as up for things but that was a step too far.
At night we went to Jinli St, a street market that is said to date back over two thousand years. It was heaving with stalls selling everything from puppets to figurines to beautiful fabric. It seemed popular with locals and with tourists who came to hang out and get something to eat, although the deep friend ducks and rabbit heads were not tempting me in the slightest.
The next day we travelled to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Leshan Giant Buddha and what a giant it is. We went past it on a boat and you’re literally speechless as you gaze at the 233 foot carving that is made straight into the cliff. It’s unbelievable.
The following morning my patience finally paid off and I found myself face to face with my favourite animals in the whole world. I love pandas, a species so blatantly picky that they will only eat something that has absolutely no nutritional content and so lazy that they only mate once a year and only then if they are in the mood.
We got to see them all, a tiny baby in an incubator that tired itself out with a sneeze, toddlers who were craftily exploring the world until their nurse gave them each a bottle and then they were so sozzled they passed out where they stood, adolescents annoying each other by climbing over the other’s heads and adults who gave us a look of disdain as they worked through alarming amounts of bamboo. I was in heaven.
Sadly we didn’t get anywhere near enough time with these beauts as we were dragged away to board the flight for our final destination and you can’t get much more China than Shanghai.
The city is a tale of two halves, one side is incredibly modern with huge high rises all bunched together on what was an island until the early 90s when these massive buildings started to appear. It is so like Manhattan you have to remind yourself where you are. On the other side of the river is the old part of Shanghai and we went round a traditional Chinese house with a beautiful oriental garden.
The tour was winding down which was a good thing because we’d packed massive amounts in so we had a trip to the Shanghai Acrobatic Show that night. I’m not really a fan of all that circus stuff but this was pretty impressive and the crowd was going mad which is always infectious.
The next day we had a boat trip on the river and then we were off, back to Old Blighty with so many fond memories of a trip of a lifetime.
Have you been to China? If so, let me know in the comments what you loved or even what you didn’t.