Grand Tour of China; Part 4. Chengdu

Thursday

Today we were off to visit Wenshu monastery, which was fairly local to the hotel. We learnt about Buddhism – May was a practicing Buddhist and was keen to show us how to use incense etc.

We then took a coach for a long journey out of Chengdu to Leshan. On the journey we passed a lot of agricultural land including vineyards which supply the main Chinese wine – The Great Wall, tea plantations, rape seed fields and more.

We had lunch and then boarded a local boat to view the Giant Buddha. Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest stone statue in the world. It is carved into a mountain range and at 233ft it really is a phenomenal sight. Apparently, it’s possibly for two people to enter it’s ear cavity and ten people could have a picnic on the Buddhas toenail!

I slept most of the journey back to Chengdu, a hectic term has caught up with me! Before we arrived back at the hotel we made a stop at Jinli street which is a reconstructed old style street. I was pleased to be visiting as it was in my list of things to see in Chengdu. In reality though, it was a bit busy and extremely whiffy for our liking. There was lots of street food like duck heads, pigs knuckles etc to try and they didn’t look particularly appetising to us! We did manage a street beer though and it was a good place to people watch!

I think Jinli St got a reaction from our group similar to marmite- you either loved it or hated it! We were free to have our own dinner tonight, and so we decided to try a Chinese Pizza place in the nearby shopping mall. One thing that is taking some getting used to is that the restaurants tend to be in shopping malls!

Keith had a Sichuan chicken (read that as blinking hot!) and shrimp/fruit “half and half” and I had shrimp, fruit and extra cheese. It was lovely actually and a nice change to rice dishes.

Friday

I had another restless sleep last night, as tends to happen when an exciting highlight event is due to take place 😂 I worry that we’re going to miss the alarm! Today we were off to see the Giant Pandas 🐼

Unlike some other tour companies, we were not going to the zoo to see these magnificent creatures; instead we were going to see them at the Panda Breeding Research centre. We took a golf buggy up to the top of the reserve and then were guided down through the various enclosures. The first sighting was of course the best- I may have had a few tears and I’m fairly sure I wasn’t the only one!

They were adorable- we saw loads, each one displaying a different character it seemed.

My favourite was “Mr Cool”- who was far to chilled out to eat his bamboo sat up like a normal panda 🐼 instead he laid down on his side with his arm propping his head up, his leg doing similar whilst munching on his bamboo.

Apparently pandas eat pretty much all day! Sounds like my sort of life right now- So much food!

We really enjoyed our visit and could have easily spent all day there but we had a train to catch; we were off to Chongqing, which was where we were boarding our home for the next three nights- the Century Sun Luxury river cruise liner.

We spent a couple of hours in Chongqing before it was time to board and it looked quite a pleasant city. Which would explain why it’s population is over 30 million people! Isn’t that just an insane amount of people?! The reason is largely because in the last 40 years The Chinese Government decided to flood a large section of the Yangtze River. This was to control floods that were happening regularly and so that they could build a large dam/hydroelectric station to generate much needed power. So new cities were built and large populations of people who lived beside the river were moved out, their houses then submerged as they flooded the valley.

I was particularly excited about our river cruise as I’d never done a cruise before – ocean or river. We decided to purchase the drinks package so that we could let our hair down a little. But actually it was pretty good value for money- it cost around £150 for the two of us and we were on the boat three nights and two full days. A round of drinks was about £12 so we easily made it worth it.

Setting sail from Chongqing was beautiful- it was after dark and the waterfront was full of lit up buildings. Suddenly it felt like we were in a hybrid of New York and Hong Kong.

We enjoyed a few cocktails before hitting the sack for a very quiet and much needed deep sleep

Until next time

Lx

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