The Giant Panda a.k.a ailuropoda melanoleuca a.k.a 熊猫 (bear cat) is what drew us to Chengdu, a city of 10 million people, 1650 km (1025 miles) and a 3-hour flight west of Shanghai. (If you click "Chengdu" above, you will see it just below the "C" in "CHINA".)
At the Giant Panda Breeding Research Center, we seized
an opportunity to volunteer for the day to
clear bamboo from panda sleeping areas,
feed them apples, learn about breakthroughs in panda breeding...
...and to take pictures of me holding panda poop!
Also in Chengdu are several cultural and historical sites,
like the Du Fu Thatched Cottage.
Here I am in front of a 4-story pagoda replica,
built on top of the original pagoda site.
The interior is very spacious and on the 4th floor is a large,
10-foot bronze bell. I couldn't turn down a dare to stand inside it.
Strolling through the garden, one cannot resist
a "jumping picture" among a grove of bamboo.
Koi ponds and large bronze sculptures also grace this cultural site.
Sichuan province is known for it's spicy food, so we ordered Huo Guo, or Hot Pot, with half hot and half not. You can see the red, boiling broth with several varieties of spicy oil, chili, and yummy goodness. They say that the Huo Guo keeps you warm during the winter.
Later that weekend we ordered an
Estremamente Grande latte at Starbucks...
...and a 4-month old baby giant panda to go.