January 4, 2018


Our Oct 12-14 visit to Chengdu gave us a visit to People's Park, a metro ride, an opera demonstration/performance, a visit to the Chengdu Panda Base Breeding Center, as well as a chance to wander in the hotel's neighborhood and to get some rest.

Pandas. The core of our time in Chengdu was the pandas. The Chengdu Panda Base Breeding Center is a zoo, breeding center, scientific facility, educational exhibit, and tourist attraction. In its spacious and attractive grounds, it houses scores of giant pandas and a number of red pandas. We saw adult pandas eating and -- literally -- hanging out in trees, slightly more active juvenile pandas, and baby pandas, barely able to lift their heads from the ground. All of them were adorable.

One of the adults was interested in something other than eating pre-cut bamboo sticks. It stalked into the shrubs in its enclosure, broke off a six foot branch, and dragged it to the back of its space to push around and chew on. It displayed remarkable strength and agility in doing so.

Here, as with the terracotta soldiers, I was impressed by the commitment to the pandas and their conservation. When they started this work, almost nothing was known about how pandas reproduced. With the increase of knowledge, they are able to return some pandas to the wild, in growing reserves in the mountains.

Three Kingdoms. One of my preparations for this trip was to listen to a podcast recap of a 14th century historical novel called "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms." It recounts the history, somewhat novelized, of the Three Kingdoms period, which took place in the 60-100 years before 280 AD. The podcast had about 100 episodes by the time we left for China and I caught up by listening to five, twenty-five minute episodes a week. I highly recommend The Romance of the Three Kingdoms Podcast.

Chengdu was the capital of the main focus of the novel, the Kingdom of Shu. I was thrilled to see statues, in our hotel's lobby, of the four heroes of Shu: Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei. It was a cool, accidental connection with actual history and a story that I've thoroughly enjoyed hearing.

Flickr has an album of photos.

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