John Edward Cooper’s Notes

HomeContentsAlphabetical listingWhom I’d like to meet in eternity…
 

Friday 20 June 2014

[Thursday 19 June 2014]

5* Tibet Hotel, Chengdu
Day 9, Chengdu (B/L/D)
Today takes you to Leshan, famous for its magnificent riverside cliff carving of a giant Buddha which is the largest stone-carved Buddhist statue in the world, viewed from a boat on the river. Continue in the afternoon to the old town of Huanglongxi, a 1700 year old settlement restored to retain its old-world charm.
[i] In the evening enjoy a delicious Sichuan hot pot meal.[ii]
[i] We made these two visits on 21 June 2014. It was today that we went to the panda breeding and research centre, originally scheduled for tomorrow.
[ii] We had the hot pot meal on the first evening, 19 June 2014.

Day 171 1 Kings 20; Mark 1
The elbows felt sore in the night, but the oedema in the right forearm had disappeared, the skin of the right elbow had almost healed over, and the condition of the right
[iii] elbow seemed no worse. The thumb, which immediately after the “secondary” abscess burst had seemed less inflamed and had stopped throbbing, seemed redder and more swollen again. Replaced all the dressings: right thumb, both elbows, and left heel. According to Janet she was “up [at] 6.35am”. My practice is to use the bathroom after she has vacated it. There was a relatively early start today, because we needed to be at the panda zoo before the day would get hot and the pandas retreat to the shade out of sight. Max had taken some parties there, and they hadn’t seen anything. “We went for breakfast.… At 8.20am we set off on the coach for the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre. It took ca.½-hour on the coach. A very muggy day.” At the place where we parked there was a large plan of the site we were about to visit. We proceeded from there, past vendors’ stalls — we’d been recommended to buy souvenirs from the shop in the Breeding and Research Centre itself, though, so that proceeds would go to the upkeep of the Centre — up steps, along the highway, then through the entrance turnstiles in the gateway which was in the shape of a stylised panda. One of our group, the young man Steve, who’d come on holiday with his mother Herma (a name I’d not come across before; she was Dutch, though without any trace of a non-English accent) had paid a whopping sum for the privilege of being photographed holding a baby panda, so he was taken off elsewhere. He was the only one who did so. The rest of us were led into the park.

[iii] Perhaps I should have written “left” here.




Friday 20 June 2014 — 08:56:16
Plan of Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre


Friday 20 June 2014 — 08:59:52
About to enter Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre

It was some minutes of being led through the wooded park (with bamboo much in evidence, though the tender stems for the pandas to eat had to be bought in at great expense) before we got our first sight of a Giant Panda. Then farther along in another enclosure we saw a second. Then others in further enclosures. They didn’t do much apart from munch bamboo shoots. I guess that their diet is so lacking in nutritional value that they need to eat more or less constantly. They do that, and sleep.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:13:34
First sight of a Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:19:42
A second Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:22:06
A second Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:22:12
A second Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:22:56
A second Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:23:02
A second Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:23:14
A second Giant Panda




Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:25:36
Bird exhibiting very blackbird-like behaviour


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:32:54
Another Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:36:46
Yet another Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:36:54
Yet another Giant Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:42:38
Yet another Giant Panda

Then we were led to an enclosure containing juvenile pandas. They were a bit more active in play than their parents.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:44:58
At an enclosure for juvenile pandas


Friday 20 June 2014 — 09:45:58
At an enclosure for juvenile pandas

At a central point we were left to explore by ourselves. There was a circular path round another enclosure for juveniles that I followed. The two occupants that I particularly noticed were asleep, perched rather precariously in a tree, especially one an unlikely-looking distance up.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:02:26
At another enclosure for juvenile pandas


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:02:56
At another enclosure for juvenile pandas


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:03:44
At another enclosure for juvenile pandas


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:03:58
At another enclosure for juvenile pandas


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:10:30
Incubator for Giant Panda cubs (not in use)


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:27:40
Another resident of the Panda Centre…


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:30:26
…and another


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:31:00
…and another

At our rendezvous point, there were souvenir shops, but these weren’t the ones recommended for the support of the Centre. I refreshed myself with an ice-cream, perhaps a Magnum. After we met up again, we were led past the Red Pandas. The ones we saw first were asleep, then we spotted ones farther along that were active.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 10:59:20 


Friday 20 June 2014 — 11:02:28
Red Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 11:03:42
Red Pandas


Friday 20 June 2014 — 11:06:36
Red Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 11:10:30
Red Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 11:14:06
Red Panda


Friday 20 June 2014 — 11:17:44
Red Panda

I’m not sure at what point we went to the visitor centre. We chose a stuffed-toy panda, a new pal for the other toys in our bedroom at home. He quickly acquired the name “Panga”.


Monday 21 July 2014 — 15:33:54
Panga with his pals, back at home

Lunch was the usual serve-yourself multiple dishes on a central turntable, actually in a restaurant on the Panda Breeding and Research Centre site.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 11:46:28
Lake, passed on the way to lunch


Friday 20 June 2014 — 12:26:40
Lunch

This hoarding rather saddened me:


Friday 20 June 2014 — 12:43:04
The Communist régime has left out the last line of this hymn.

We filed out, retracing our steps along the road, turning left down the flight of steps, then right past the vendors’ stalls, and along the path back to the coach.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 13:25:36
Passing vendors’ stalls on the way back to the coach

Our progress to the next venue was hindered by heavy traffic. This was to “the ancient streets of the Wide and Narrow Alley which have been renovated to their former architectural glory” — so said the Mercury Direct schedule for 19 June 2014. (I think we did just about everything scheduled, but not in the originally planned order.)


Friday 20 June 2014 — 13:45:46
Crawling in heavy traffic


Friday 20 June 2014 — 13:50:38
High-rise buildings in Chengdu

Max took us to a map of the “Wide and Narrow Alley” (14:17) by the side of its entrance-gate, belanterned, with typically turned-up-eaves, and then we were left to wander round the streets of shops and cafés that didn’t interest Janet and me one iota till 3pm. This was the first of a few such occasions and locations, which we had to tolerate during what was otherwise an excellently planned and effected holiday. Janet wanted a drink, but found it impossible everywhere both making what she wanted understood and finding it available. And both of us wanted a pee. We went down some flights of steps following signs to a car-park because we figured there might be a public toilet there, but we didn’t like the look of where we were going, so went back up again.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:17:08
Max explains why it’s called the “Wide and Narrow Alley”.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:20:20
“Wide and Narrow Alley”: looking back to the gate


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:21:52
“Wide and Narrow Alley”: vain search for diet cola


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:25:40
“Wide and Narrow Alley”: one of the side-streets

We found a “toilets” sign near the gate, but the building it pointed to was covered with a tarpaulin, there was a barrier, and someone said we couldn’t go that way. We managed to make our need known, and he pointed towards the entrance of a building outside the gate. This was an indoor market, aimed at local shoppers not tourists. Anyway, we found toilets in there;[iv] then we sat in the square near the gate and waited for our people to gather.

[iv] “A security guard got the gist,” Janet wrote (I think I made “urine from the groins” hand-gestures on this occasion), “and directed us to some loos.” Not the best or cleanest, but Janet pointed out that the one she used when we were almost at Chengdu, when I stayed on the coach, were a lot worse.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:48:30
Indoor market: live fish in tanks


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:48:54
Indoor market


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:48:54
Indoor market (detail 1)


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:48:54
Indoor market (detail 2)


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:52:16
Gate of “Wide and Narrow Alley”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 14:54:14
Gate of “Wide and Narrow Alley”

Next, we were taken to the “People’s Park” — and what a cacophony of techno-style rock music assaulted our ears! We went down to the boating lake as far from the noise as possible. Even there, some piped music from nearby was a bit intrusive: it was from “T’ai Chi” style dancing nearby. On the way out, I looked over to the high-fenced enclosure where the offensive sound was coming from, and saw the tops of red flags and banners being waved — like some Communist Party rally, or similar. Damnation take them! That park would have been very pleasant and relaxing if it hadn’t been for that.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 15:38:38
“People’s Park”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 15:48:46
“People’s Park”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 15:49:52
“People’s Park”

After enduring both the afternoon visits, we were glad to get back on the coach and return to the hotel at ca.4.30pm. I wrote, “The internet as I want to use it may be crippled here, but that pain-in-the-arse AVG antivirus still can update itself — to the detriment of the computer’s performance while it does so (as at ca.5pm today).” Transferred the 48 photos and 8 videos from my camera to the WD Elements HDD (17:12–17:16). At 6.20pm we left the hotel for dinner at the same hotel where we had lunch yesterday. Then we boarded the coach to go to a show: a guess one would call it a “variety show”. It was in a large open-air courtyard, but under a canopy or canopies — just as well, because it rained. Tea was served, with bowls of nuts and things. A man came round refilling cups using a teapot with a very long spout. There was a musical ensemble of Chinese instruments, which gave a performance at the start, and accompanied other acts. It was clear to Janet and me from the gestures of the performers and the style of the performances that the operatic-type scenes were comic in nature, but we seemed to be the only ones of our group who didn’t remain still and stony-faced. Janet was particularly moved by the music of a solo two-stringed Chinese violin. I particularly enjoyed the performance of the guy playing the suona (“Chinese trumpet” — or oboe, more like): with a “conversation” of calls on this and responses by whistling and on other instruments in quick juxtaposition. The highlight of the show was the amazing Sichuan “face changing”, where the performers’ vividly coloured and grotesquely patterned masks were changed from one to another instantly with the wave of a garment, the swipe of a fan, or even the shake of a head.


Friday 20 June 2014 — 19:52:54
Arriving for the show


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:15:02
Instrumental ensemble


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:16:20
Instrumental ensemble


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:16:30
Instrumental ensemble


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:16:46
Instrumental ensemble


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:19:28
Announcing the next act


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:20:22
A musical comedy-drama


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:21:30
A musical comedy-drama


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:28:04
Two-stringed Chinese violin


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:37:26
Stick puppet


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:45:42
Another musical comedy-drama


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:46:52
Another musical comedy-drama


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:47:54
Another musical comedy-drama


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:48:44
Another musical comedy-drama


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:50:06
Another musical comedy-drama


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:55:18
Hand shadows


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:55:38
Hand shadows


Friday 20 June 2014 — 20:58:28
Hand shadows


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:03:06
Suona


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:13:04
Henpecked husband forced to do acrobatic routines


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:15:36
Henpecked husband forced to do acrobatic routines


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:22:26
Henpecked husband forced to do acrobatic routines


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:22:40
Henpecked husband forced to do acrobatic routines


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:29:34
“Face changing”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:29:50
“Face changing”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:32:18
“Face changing”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:32:26
“Face changing”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:33:58
“Face changing”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:34:20
“Face changing”


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:37:20
Final bow


Friday 20 June 2014 — 21:52:04
Rain and heavy traffic

It was raining heavily when we left and dashed to the coach. We were back at the hotel just before 10pm. Transferred the 31 photos I took this evening from my camera to the WD Elements HDD (22:08–22:09). The “battery low” indicator came on as I was doing so. Janet wrote, “It’s now nearly 10.30pm and we’ve a long day ahead tomorrow… so I’m going to have my shower and get into bed.” I assume I went to bed at the same time, in the absence of evidence of any other activity.

[Saturday 21 June 2014]



Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]





<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]