John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Saturday 21 June 2014

[Friday 20 June 2014]

5* Tibet Hotel, Chengdu
Day 10, Chengdu (B/L/D)
Perhaps a highlight of the tour, today takes you to experience the once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre, home to one of China’s largest habitats of pandas.
[i] Strolling around a variety of enclosures, you can even pay an extra fee to be photographed next to one of these beautiful animals. The afternoon will be at leisure for you to relax before dinner.
[i] We did this on 20 June 2014.

Day 172 Psalms 94; 1 Kings 21; Mark 2
I didn’t change the batteries in my camera today, yet the “battery low” indicator did not reappear. After breakfast we assembled in the lobby for our 9am departure on the ca.85-mile expressway journey southwards — i.e. back towards the Yangtze — to Leshan, a city beside two tributaries of the Yangtze. The journey took some three hours. We transferred to a couple of boats, though we weren’t divided along “Coach A”/“Coach B” lines — see “12:17:16 (detail)”, below, showing the boat that Janet and I were not on, on which “the bane of Coach A”, Frank, is visible. The boat just flashed past the colossal statue of Buddha, but we were assured that this wasn’t a matter for concern because it would linger within view of the statue on the way back. And it did.



Saturday 21 June 2014 — 08:58:00
Waiting in the hotel lobby




Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:06:32
Just after arrival in Leshan


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:10:06
Going aboard to go to the giant Buddha


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:14:54


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:17:16


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:17:16 (detail)


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:20:30


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:20:40


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:20:46
The giant Buddha, to our left as we pass


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:21:22
Beyond the giant Buddha, to our left


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:21:22 (detail 1)


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:21:22 (detail 2)


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:21:22 (detail 3)


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:21:50
Returning, to pass the giant Buddha again


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:22:44
Returning, to pass the giant Buddha again


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:23:24
The giant Buddha, to our right as we pass


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:23:38
The giant Buddha, to our right as we pass


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:26:26
The giant Buddha, to our right as we pass


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:26:44
The giant Buddha, to our right as we pass


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:27:00
The giant Buddha, to our right as we pass


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:28:42
The giant Buddha, to our right as we pass


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:29:28
Leaving the giant Buddha behind


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:30:44
Max, our excellent Tour Manager


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:31:54
Ahead: Leshan


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:33:38
Looking back


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:33:46
Looking back


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:36:30
Looking back


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:38:32


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 12:40:58

On arrival back at Leshan we were led along the street which ran by the riverside promenade to a hotel where we had the usual-style large round tables equipped with serve-yourself turntables reserved for lunch. Afterwards our coaches didn’t turn up straight away, and we crossed the road to the promenade park to wait. We retraced the outward route for some 50-odd miles, then turned right, to go to “the old town of Huanglongxi, a 1700 year old settlement restored to retain its old-world charm”. The stream that ran through it was a play-paradise for the Chinese kids who’d come day-tripping with their parents. (Crowds and crowds of day-trippers!) Likewise for shoppers — grocery or souvenir shoppers — it was an ideal spot. But we were neither, and we were annoyed to find ourselves again dumped in such a place — for an hour. There were bars and cafés, but not as many as in other places we’ve been to abroad — tea-shops tended to be what one found, especially in “provincial” China. And none that we could find that served the diet cola that Janet required. Making herself understood proved to be an impossibility. Elsewhere on our travels, even when English has not been understood, people have recognised “Diet Coke” or “Coke Light”. We needed a loo as well, but could we find one? We looked at a map of the site on a board — there were a number of these dotted around — but couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I got very mad indeed — so it’s as well that English wasn’t understood by passers-by! We wandered as far as a fairly wide river, then turned back, went along a side-street, then turned back. So we returned to the gates and the bridge over the stream near the entrance to the site (pictured below, “16:11:22”), which was to be our pick-up point. There was another of the maps there, which we consulted. It did indicate toilets nearby, but we couldn’t see them; there were no signs with “male” and “female” figures on them. Then Janet noticed the now-familiar Chinese characters — “可口可乐”, only more stylised — atop a drinks cooler in a shop — the shop behind the covered colonnade on the left corner in the photo below — which proved to have stocks of Coke Zero. Janet also asked for directions to toilets. The girl who served her not only spoke excellent English, but offered to take us to the toilets herself. She was a student, keen to improve her English. Was this her weekend job in the shop? Or were her parents the shopkeepers? We were extremely grateful. Her friendliness and helpfulness completely reversed our mood. They made being “dumped” there worthwhile. The toilets were back over the humped bridge across the stream, through a nearby alley, in a courtyard where some kind of show was going on — not signed until you got right up to them. After our friend left us to go back to the shop, we sat in the alley for a while. It amused me that we were “animals in the zoo”, almost, for the passers-by: stared at by older folk, surreptitiously photographed using phone-cameras by the younger ones. The same thing had happened yesterday when Janet and I sat in People’s Park by the boating lake.


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 16:11:22
Huanglongxi


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 16:13:42
Huanglongxi


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 16:14:16
Huanglongxi


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 16:49:54
Our saviour in Huanglongxi


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 17:10:26
Our saviour in the shop where she worked


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 17:10:26 (detail)

We didn’t go back to the expressway to travel the remaining 25 miles or so to Chengdu, but more or less continued along the road by which we’d come into Huanglongxi. It had been very bumpy latterly, and continued in the same manner initially. Also quite rough was the temporary roadway taking us along the construction site of a new highway. As we neared the city we were caught in heavy and slow-moving traffic. A single-deck bus passed us that was absolutely packed with people. Then we passed it. And it passed us. And so on. Can’t remember what the arrangement for dinner was.


Saturday 21 June 2014 — 19:58:08

Transferred today’s 30 photos and two videos from my camera to the WD Elements HDD (20:31–20:33). At the end of the day, the whole of the right thumb was swollen.

[Sunday 22 June 2014]



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