We arrived in the big city of Chengdu. Here we visited a panda reserve, rode bikes around the city to various temples and parks, took a Sichuan cooking class, saw a theater performance and learned to play ma-jong. We had hoped to go to a large museum in the area, but we didn’t know there was only one bus a day and we missed it on our last day before leaving town. Chengdu is a nice city with good bike lanes and many parks. It is also very modern and you see many, many new buildings and shopping plazas under construction (similar to what we saw in Beijing and Xian).
The panda center was great to see, the habitat and pens are well designed and very large with a big research and breeding program. We also saw rare red pandas. The one year-old pandas are particularly playful. Since they only eat leaves and fruit, Pandas are not that ferocious and actually seem pretty lazy. The result is that the fences are low and are combined with a small ditch, which seems to keep them in. That way visitors get some great views watching them.
The many parks are nice and we enjoyed tea in one garden in the park for hours. Some are Taoist and others are Buddhist or in commemoration of historical figures. We visited many of them by renting bikes and riding around the city. The food here is spicy and really good, and we learned some good and simple Sichuan dishes in our class. We have eaten street food as much as possible, including tasty spicy skewers roasted on small fires, stuffed dumplings, steamed buns, and more hot pot and all of the street food has been very good, some of our favorite food on the trip.