If I could go back to any place that we have been so far in the last two months, it would be this area of China. The weather was perfect, there were so many beautiful sites to see, the people were friendly, and all of the food we ate was delicious.
When I think of China, a few things come to mind. Rice, Dragons, Buddha, Calligraphy, beautiful architecture, and of course….bamboo and Pandas. The cities of Chengdu and Leshan were filled with all of these. I loved it all, but my favorite part was the pandas. Pandas have been my favorite animal for as long as I can remember. And coming to China has made my love for them grow even more than I thought was possible.
I remember researching a few years ago where in the world I could see a real life panda. I had seen one in the Washington D.C. zoo when I was younger, but it didn’t fulfill my want to see more. I remember reading about a panda research center where tourists could pay a fee and learn about and watch pandas. It was located in China though, and when in my life would I ever make it to China…right?….Funny how things work out.
The research center was FILLED with pandas. Everything from the decorations, souvenirs, and snacks were panda themed. It was like a zoo, but just with pandas, and hundreds of them. From new born babies to 20 year old pandas. Since they are at a research center and not a zoo, they are treated like celebrities and are very happy and active. I was on cloud 9 all day.
It was so fun to witness so many happy healthy animals, especially because they were my favorite. I learned a lot too, and Derek was so nice to make this day “my day” and try to enjoy it as much as I did. I have already looked into volunteer programs at this place, because I was very envious of all of the workers who were interacting with these precious animals. It will be the perfect excuse to visit this beautiful part of the world again. 😉
*Shout out to our friends that we met in our taxi, who didn’t speak any English, but kept telling me that “I am beautiful when I smile” and Derek “is so so handsome” *
The next day, we took a train ride about a hour away to a smaller city called Leshan. We had researched about a giant Buddha statue there, which is the largest stone Buddha in the world. Since it was still the Chinese National holiday, the place was jammed pack with locals and tourists, but it was still very enjoyable to see the Buddha. It was absolutely beautiful.Leshan was one of our favorite places in China, not only because the Buddha was located there, but there were also many Buddhist monks walking around; practicing ceremonies, and singing songs. There was incense burning, Chinese locals and tourists bowing down to the monks, and peaceful songs in a language that we didn’t and still don’t understand. The experience was so peaceful and so beautiful.
The day was so peaceful, and it was much needed after our long week of traveling to Beijing, Chengdu, and Leshan. I wish the following day was just as peaceful, but that’s not how life works. There are good days, and there are not so good days.
We woke up extremely early to make it to the train station on time. We had a 13 hour train ride ahead of us, so we were prepared to wear our sweats, read our books and do nothing, but sit all day. After a couple unexpected long lines, not being able to ask anyone for help with the ticket machine, and a very stressful half hour, Derek and I missed our train by 5 mins with a weeks worth of luggage in our arms.
Since it was the national holiday, the next train “home” was on Tuesday, which was 3 days away. We needed to be home by Sunday to teach on Monday morning. Starting to panic, we looked up other options of transportation. Fortunately, there was a flight that left Sunday morning at 6AM. Unfortunately, it was $500 that we were not prepared to spend. It was our only option, so we quickly booked the flight and tried not to let this stress and frustration ruin our perfect week spent together.Since we still had 24 hours left in Chengdu, no hostel booked, and all of our luggage…we decided the best option would be to take our luggage back to our hostel to store it and try to have a nice relaxing day. We researched a few spas, and ended up at an all inclusive resort type of place. We had an all you can eat buffet, got a hour massage, played table tennis, had unlimited wifi, and spent the whole day being lazy and doing absolutely nothing. It was much more enjoyable than a 13 hour train ride would have been.
The resort was fairly cheap..it was high end and pricey for China, but not even close to the amount that we would spend at home for a place like that. We slept at the airport that night, and were home by 8AM on Sunday morning. Sometimes missing your train home and having to spend a little extra money is worth it.We are passed our halfway mark in China, and even though I can’t find the right words to describe the experience we’ve had so far, I can tell you…It’s been worth it.
Onto the next adventure, Wren