The guys at work were kind enough to offer to take j-street and I to the Panda Research Facility in Chengdu. For some of them, it was their first time seeing China’s icon.
They pick us up at 9am in a rented van that comes with a free driver! As per usual, there are no seat belts, which is unfortunate because I wanted to wear one more than ever.
The journey was a good opportunity to get to know the guys and their partners better, in an outside of work setting. It is about 50 minutes journey until we arrived at the destination.
We met up with some more guys who showed up soon after, as space in the van was limited so they had shared a car together. The tickets were only ~80RMB which is about 10 dollars, which was a steal.
Once inside we headed off in search of Pandas. The place reminded me of a theme park, with panda theme gift shops and cafés. We went into the first building with high expectations of seeing something awesome, but instead we were faced with panda semen tubes and documentaries on how they do ‘electrical ejaculations’ (photos intentionally not taken). It was a sudden reminder that we were in the research facility and not a zoo. We then saw a lot of fish that was quite beautiful then we saw our first panda! It was sleeping and not moving, then a local man started shouting at it in maderin. This did not please the Panda, who plodded away to the furthest most point in the enclosure, and went back to sleep.
Red Pandas, which are as much pandas as Koalas are bears, were a lot more lively and interesting. After that we saw some toddler aged normal pandas, who were very active (when compared to sleeping). Finally we stopped for coffee at a café. Every single person was a western, which really stood out as normally you are lucky to see just one. Probably because the place was very expensive, the locals new better, but in their defence, the coffee was the best I’ve had here. All in all, the research base was very beautiful, cheap and a lot of fun. After that we went to lunch at Bahotu.