Chengdu, Central Sichuan Province

April 20th – 22nd: Chengdu, Sichuan Province – Well, I’ve finally realized I’m getting farther and farther behind in keeping this blog so I’ve decided to cover just the highlights of my travels until I get back to Shanghai and start teaching again. In this post, I’ll cover my two-day visit to Chengdu. Chengdu is the 2nd-largest city in Sichuan Province and is about 60 miles south of MianYang. I visited Chengdu in 2008 and hadn’t really planned to go back there. However, since flights from JiuZhaiGou to LiJiang go through Chengdu, I decided to spend two days visiting the Panda Research Base and my Chinese friend Terry. Terry is a senior at Sichuan University and I met him in 2008 when he graciously volunteered to be an English guide for me and another volunteer visiting Chengdu. His English is excellent and we have maintained contact since I left China in 2008. On Tuesday afternoon, he met me at the airport. We took a taxi and bus to his university campus on the other side of town. I visited his dorm room (6 boys), met some of his friends, walked around campus, and visited a nice museum. In the early evening, he treated me to dinner at his school cafeteria, swiping his student ID card to purchase my meal.

After dinner, we took a taxi to the hotel I had booked online, which was quite a distance from the university. The BuddhaZen hotel (also called O&O) is a really, really nice place with beautiful architecture and rooms and a very friendly and helpful staff.
Wit my Friend Terry in front of my Hotel

helped me figure out where to catch the bus to the Panda Research Base and then went back to his university. The next morning, I got up early and went to the Panda Research Institute, a beautifully landscaped park with a very successful in-captivity breeding program for giant pandas.

I had a lovely morning strolling around the park viewing the pandas in their panda-friendly enclosures. The highlight of the visit was capturing the playfulness of several young pandas.

Video: Playful Pandas

That evening Terry and I attended a performance of Sichuan Opera that I really enjoyed. A nice feature of the opera was that the performers’ dressing room is open to the public and you can watch them apply makeup and don their costumes before the show (see video.) The show included many different kinds of acts including music, dancing, puppets, fast facemask changes, and a comedy skit about a hen-pecked husband. My favorite part was the man who used his very talented hands to create hand-shadows on a large, round, translucent screen. Check out the highlights in the video below.

Video: Sichuan Opera

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