Friday, October 24, 2008

Catching Up: Chengdu, Xian, Hangzhou

I haven't had much opportunity to get to an internet bar. Found one just now for 3 RMB per hour, which is about .45 cents. What a deal!

We're here in Chengdu for 3 nights, arrived yesterday. The Crowne Plaza hotel is great. Comfortable room, upgraded service (somewhat) for my Priority club membership, and great location (close to this cheap internet place among things).

Today we took a taxi with our guide Fiona, who I met via Trip Advisor. We had a blast seeing all the pandas, from the babies in the nursery (about 8-9 of them asleep - wish I could cuddle one), to the young 1-2 year old pandas, to the adults. I took a 'few' photos. ;) We could have watched them all day. We had arrived early enough to see them feed on the piles of bamboo, their food staple. Also saw people posing with one eating apples. A pose for about 30 seconds and 3 photos (with your own camera) cost 400 RMB.

We encountered several groups of school children, probably about 300 of them. All were excited to see the pandas, but many were excited to see Amercians. Many came up to us and said, "Hello!" Probably the only English word they know. That was just the beginning. Several came up with their panda postcards and a pen and asked for our autographs. What a frenzy it became! Both Reenie and I were swamped with children shoving the cards in our faces for our signatures. It started out fun and I wrote my name, "Monica J. Pileggi, USA". Well, by the third group of kids I was scribbling "Monica", as they were just happy to have anything written down. I couldn't keep up. One sweet girl came up to me and seemed to want to touch me, so I held out my hand. We shook hands and then she reached for me and we hugged. That blew me away. Such great kids. I saw another tourist bombarded by kids.

We later taxied to a museum, Sanxingdui, which has artifacts from an ancient Chinese culture from 2000-4000 years ago. Lots of bronze sculptures, masks, swords made out of jade, etc.

We took the local bus back to the city, which took about 1.5 hours. I wasn't happy as I now have a bladder infection and the bumpy ride did not help me. Fortunately, I have Cipro and will start taking it when I get back to the hotel.

Just a quick backtrack:

After Shanghai, we took the train to Hangzhou, which is the area of the West Lake and, "is like a heaven," according to the locals. We spent 2 nights and a young woman, Rebecca, took us around to see the various sights: temple, beautiful gardens, a ride on the West lake with 2 island stops. We also did some shopping and enountered a festival with TONS of food. The streets with filled with people moving about from one food stall to the next. It was fun.

After Hangzhou, we flew to Xian and spent 2 nights. Both flights we've taken so far have been great. Air bus planes.

In Xian, our main purpose was to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors (TCW). The day we went it rained like crazy and it must have been in the high 40s. The winds were blowing that everyone's pants were soaked. It wasn't fun. However, seeing the TWC certainly made up for it. We spent a few hours just viewing them. There is a museum, as well as three pits. This was an amazing find. Apparently the TWC were never written in the history records. How something so significant and so large could disappear for so long is astounding. In seeing the other two pits, I know it will be many, many years before they uncover it all.

We fly to Guilin on the 26th and will drive to Yangshou for our 4-night stay. This is the area with the karst mountains and Li River. I hope to get some good photos here. After, we'll head to Hong Kong for 4 nights and then home again.

I'll try to write again....maybe tomorrow! I can afford 3 RMB. :)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Monica,
Sounds like you are having great fun. Glad Fiona worked out in Chengdu. It all sounds wonderful. I like the idea of getting a chop made - good idea!