This past weekend I learned that pandas have three wishes, to lose weight, to see color, and to get rid of the bags around their eyes. Tony the tour guide taught me these fun facts this past weekend when I traveled to Chengdu, China.
I journeyed to this fine city of roughly 11 million people with 6 other friends in hopes of exploring a different city in China during our 3-day weekend. Our main incentive to go there was an obvious one, the pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center, one of the only places in China where the infamous giant pandas can be found.
On Saturday my friends and I took a day trip that was set up through our hostel, which consisted of us visiting the Panda base in the morning, and the largest Buddha statue in the world, the Leshan Giant Buddha, in the afternoon. To say I was excited about this day would be an understatement. This weekend exceeded my expectation and left me with a new obsession of pandas, and a large hole in my wallet.
At approximately 11 am on Saturday, March 16, 2013, I, Megan Olivia Goodman, sat with a panda in my lap for about 1 minute. Throughout this minute I hugged, pet, stared at, and attempted to kiss this baby panda. I got a great video of this experience, and about 50 pictures in one minute. Although I only got to hold one panda, I had the opportunity to see many other pandas as well. I saw red pandas, which there are only about 5,000 left of in the world today, along with about 20 different pandas playing outside, eating bamboo, and sleeping. This experience was one I will never forget, and that I am so grateful to have had.
After spending a couple of hours with the pandas, our tour group set off to see the Leshan Giant Buddha.The first and most obvious word that comes to mind to describe this Buddha was that it was big, really big. Not only was it huge, but also it was old, really old, as it was built during the Tang Dynasty in approximately 730 AD. We took a boat ride through the mucky water and found ourselves in front of this 71-meter-high Buddha statue. It was quite the sight to see and a perfect end to a perfect, memorable day.
Now I’m back in Shanghai and planning my next trip, which will take place in Nanjing. For now I am going to enjoy the Shanghai air that I previously dubbed too smoggy to breathe, and now, after being in Chengdu, have a new found appreciation for it. 再见朋友！