Pandas and ear cleaning
22.05.2009 - 24.05.2009 26 °C
Well I arrived in the heart of the Sichuan province in the town of Chengdu after my flight from Tibet.
I spent the afternoon wandering around the city and it's beautiful parks. This city certainly push home the fact that China is the world's most populous country. It was Saturday afternoon so the crowds were certainly out in force. The sheer volume of people was something I hadn't really experienced, even in Beijing! After a bit I took refuge in the main park in the city. This oasis of calm was a wonderful place to wander in the evening sunshine. We were sitting in the main tea house in the heart of the park enjoying the serenity of the lake and doing some people watching and drinking tea. It seems to be a tradition in this area to have your ears cleaned or get a massage while in the tea house. A lot of the locals were indulging so when in Rome I thought.
There was I was in the evening sunshine of Chengdu drinking my jasmine tea and getting my ears cleaned, I also indulged in a back massage which was most effective and relaxing. A pleasant way to spend your evening and all for about 6 euro!
The Sichuan province is known around China as being the capital of spice, it's being the place where even the mildest of food is laced with chillies and spices. We decided on getting a traditional hot pot that night and ordered a mild and a hot dish. Now I have eaten very well since I've arrived in China. I have also been more adventurous, it's a bye product from often ordering blind from menus that mean nothing to me. I have often eaten things that I was informed were hot but that I managed quite well and I'm not a man who craves incredibly spicy food. It was with this foolish experience that I dived straight into the hot dish. It was carnage. I was like a cartoon character who's head expands and turns read, who's ears shoot steam and who eventually explodes while frantically searching for a bucket of water. I couldn't eat a thing for the next ten minutes or so. I sat their sipping my beer as my entire head throbbed and my eyes began to water. It was phenomenal how hot the dish was, I don't think I've ever had anything as spicy in my life. It's fine now though as I can now eat anything without fear, my taste buds have been irreparably damaged so I won't be able to taste anything never mind anything hot for a long time to come.
That evening was spent in the Shamrock bar watching Leinster winning the Heineken cup. Due to the time difference between Chengdu and Murrayfield it was about half four when I returned back to my accommodation which was unfortunate as I had one of my earliest starts the next day! The reason for my early start was I wanted to get out to the Panda Sanctuary early as that is when the Pandas are the most active. In the afternoon Pandas do what they do best and that is sleep! It was just as well I arrived early as they seemed to be in a very playful mood and were very active.
There are over 60 pandas in the sanctuary and they are housed in a beautifully laid out and very natural habitat area. The pandas are almost hypnotic – you just find yourself staring at them and you end up losing track of of how long you have been watching. They aren't doing anything amazing – they wrestle, they eat, they climb a bit and they wander around. Yet you can't keep your eyes off them. I don't know how many photos I took off them but it was quite a lot and yet I probably would go back and take more. They are simply beautiful animals.