April 18 - 20, 2000

Photos & Text 2000 by
Len Schwer
Revised 17 September 2000

City Sights
(Daily Journal- Day 8)
  Chengdu is a modern Chinese city with the nickname of the "City of Hibiscus" although it was too early in the spring to see the blossoms. The Jin Jaing Hotel was another 5 star hotel that despite it Soviet design had a very nicely decorated central dinning area. We arrived fairly late in the day after our short flight from Xian and only stayed for two nights as Chengdu primarily serves tourists as a gateway to Tibet.
  The wide street outside our hotel had several central lanes for cars, then a wide paths for bikes on each side and finally sidewalks, which was a nice arrangement except it was a challenge to cross the bike lane! People seemed to pay a small fee to an attendant to park their bikes. Since the bike park was an apparent public area, I am not sure why there was a fee; all bikes in China are registered and we were told theft is rare, but still all bikes are locked.
  We did have some free time and walked to the city's central square to see the large status of Chairman Mao; note the capitalist add for alcohol behind the Chairman! We also toured the local free market, which seemed to specialize in pets and pet supplies.
Soviet design 5 Star hotel.
Festive dinning area
Bikes only path along street
Everyone has a bike
That's Chairman Mao next to my head
A zoomed in view of white Mao statue
Saw this sign in the free market

Pandas - Giant & Lesser
(Daily Journal- Day 8)
  Chengdu's other attraction, to American tourists, is its Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Strangely, Giant Panda's are of more interest to American than anyone else. The Chinese have them in all major zoos and other foreign tourists, especially other Asian tourists, apparently are not too interested. The almost absolute lack of other visitors at the panda center easily proved that point.
  We were very lucky to happen upon a young American college student who is studying the pandas as part of her masters thesis work. She was able to answer our many questions as the pandas were napping, after their morning meal, and all our expert needed to do was note their activity every 60 seconds when a quite beeper attached to her clip board sounded. I think there were about 15 pandas in the center and we saw several including twins born about a year ago.
  There were also many Lesser Pandas which looked to me to be a cross between a raccoon and a fox.
Statue and flowers inside the center
Bamboo covered walk
Trees are used for naps
Not the best view of a panda
Don't feed the pandas
Panda enclosure
Don't feed the panda visitors!
Kind of a racoon & fox cross
Lesser Panda is related
Statue ouside the center

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Photos & Text 2000 by Len Schwer