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Brian’s Travel Diary

Friday, 02 Feb 2007

Location: Chengdu, China

MapChengdu - Home of Sichuan spices and Pandas. Both are pretty awesome if you like spicy food, but (sadly?) you can't have both at the same time. I only ate an actual restaraunt once. The street vendor food selling satay sticks of 'you name it' were too good to pass up. Food in China has been fantastic thus far, but I guess I should be concerned about the levels toxins in the food. Then again, maybe mercury is the new Lawry's seasoned salt and we just never knew it.

The Panda base was very well done. I didnt feel bad for the animals like I did in Hong Kong. They had plenty of room, especially for an animal that sleeps 20 hous a day. There were also about a dozen cubs running around, which was very encouraging. The Chengdu-ryn clearly take pride in their national treasure, which is either a bear or a racoon or somewhere in between (no one seems to have a definitive answer). There are only about 1,000 left (40 are on the base!) in the wild due largely to poaching, and the Panda's lack of libido. Pfizer should make a little blue Panda pill to encourage some more magic moments. When the Cialis moment does strike there is about a 50/50 chance of birthing twins, which you would think help propagate the species. But, momma panda is incapable of caring for two cubs so one is usually abondoned or crushed in its sleep. This is because she carries the cub that weighs about as much as an apple in her paw the entire time and she can't carry two. At least in the Panda camp no sibling will be flattened by the mom. Poaching is punishable by death, but if you 'save' a panda you get rewarded with a year's salary.

Beau and I were hanging out in the Peoples Park with some fellow travellers when Mr. Lee happened upon us. Mr. Lee is a Cultural Advisor for foreign travellers who want to experience 'real China.' He is mentioned by name in the Lonely Planet but has no contact infomation - You just have to get lucky. He took us to an authentic Sichuan Opera which was very interesting to see how they addressed issues of communism. Certainly a nice learning experience and we were the only tourists in the place.

So, Chengdu had plenty of nose clogging smog - just like every city we have been in thus far - but, they made up for it with street food. I think my gut is made of iron now.

Off to Xi'an and 16 hours on the train...