In Chengdu we stayed in a beautiful little boutique hotel with a garden courtyard. We walked through the peaceful Baihuatan Park, which has an impressive bonsai garden, koi fish pond and is surrounded by tea houses. We went out for a traditional Hotpot dinner. In the middle of our table was a pot of hot oil to cook in and a pot of stock. The waiter rolled over a separate trolley of ingredients: beef, pork, lamb, quails eggs, potatoes, vegetables and a dipping bowl of sesame oil, garlic and coriander. It was an excellent sharing meal. After the meal a few of us went to the Chinese opera. We were served tea in China cups while we watched traditional opera, instruments, dancing and shadow puppets. After the show we went out for a few beers.
The following day we visited the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. We watched baby pandas playing and eating for a few hours. There were tiny baby pandas still in incubators. And red pandas. I had never even heard of them until I saw one. We stopped at a very ‘local’ place for lunch. I had sweet and sour pork and egg fried rice. Afterwards we drove to the UNESCO Leshan Giant Buddha. We took a boat to see it. The boat was an interesting experience in itself as they packed in as many people as they could. When we reached the viewing point we were right up against two other boats that our boat kept knocking into. The enormous 71m seated buddha is carved into a cliff out of Cretaceous red bed sandstones. It faces Mt Emei (where we were heading next) with the Min and Dadu rivers flowing beneath it. It was so big you could just make out tiny little figures of people walking up and down its sides.
Last Stop: Xian
Next Stop: Emei Shan