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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Wednesday, July 02, 2014 11:41:32

CHINA 2014: 3 Xi'an to Chengdu

Monday, June 30, 2014

We woke up at 4 AM to watch Costa Rica beat Greece on goal kicks after two overtimes. Mr. Wu and Mr. Ho, our driver, got us to the airport in good time for our flight to Chendu and Mr. Ho ensured we were correctly ticketed before saying goodbye. The one hour flight arrived a bit early. Chengdu has apparently now increased in population to about 14 million. It is an ancient city, dating back more than 2,500 years. The temperature on arrival was 37 C (98.6F).

Our Chengdu guide, Helen, was there to take us for a delicious lunch, which we walked off through the narrow Kuan Zhai Lanes in an old part of town that has been made trendy for shops, restaurants and bars through restoration. We checked into the beautifully restored Buddha Zen Hotel, where a suite had been arranged with a king bed and a single. The staff were warm, friendly and accommodating - it is an amazing place. Highly recommended.

We then walked through the nearby Wenshu Temple complex, build around 600 AD and in very good shape. It is an active monastery, with resident monks, a large historic library and classrooms for teaching Buddhist philosophy. From there we wandered back through the maze of old, narrow pedestrian only streets of the hutong to the hotel where we each had a marvellous foot massage.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Today was the last major item on Sela's list - the giant pandas. We were very fortunate to arrive the day after one of the pandas had delivered twins, a male and a female. The two tiny cubs, 3-4 inches in length, were in incubators under covers, but at one point the cover was removed and it was possible to see one of them. It is amazing that such a large animal has such a tiny baby!

We spent hours wandering around the large centre, where pandas are kept in large, natural habitats. The unsocial males have big areas to themselves - plenty large enough to get out of site of visitors, although the feeding stations are located where it is very easy to see them. We spent most of the time watching the young pandas playing, climbing trees and wrestling with one another. At one time three of the cuddly looking balls of fur were tumbling over one another.

We met a 19 year old girl from Sweden who was travelling on her own seeing China on the plane to Chengdu, and again at the panda centre. She had been studying Mandarin. She joined us to tour the panda compound, then for a delicious lunch at an on site restaurant. We dropped her off near where she was staying on our way back into town.

The rest of the day was spent the people's park, where there were rides for the kids, aerobic exercises, karaoke places, a lake with boats and tea houses. It was a friendly, lively, active place, apparently not frequented by western tourists. Sela went on some of the rides, and we all joined in dancing and exercising to the music, much to the amusement of the locals, Sela was once again featured in dozens of photos and interviewed by the local TV station. In one part of the park many advertisements for husbands/wives or just for dating were attached to sticks pushed into the ground, complete with contact numbers. Sela bought a bubble making kit, and was soon surrounded by Chinese kids running after the bubbles to burst them. It was a lot of fun.

We were to go to the giant Buddha at Leshan, but cancelled due to the amount of driving involved. This was my fault, as Lifeng had originally proposed an extra day in Chengdu to go there, but I thought it was in the same direction from Chengdu as the panda centre, however it is the opposite direction, which would have required an extra 5 hours of driving in total. Marilynn and I visited last time, and although it is definitely worth seeing it needs to be done on a separate day. My error, and a shame as we would have been delighted to have another night in the very special Zen Buddha hotel.

Back at the hotel we had another 45 minute massage of our tired feet. The cost was only about $15 - a good investment as it does restore them quickly.