Chengdu Panda Base 2009

Tứ Xuyên là nơi có nhiều đại hùng miêu (gấu mèo lớn) nhất trên thế giới. TQ từng có chính sách “ngoại giao gấu trúc” để phá băng quan hệ với phương Tây trong thời kỳ chiến tranh lạnh. Đến thập niên 1980 thì TQ chỉ cho thuê chứ không tặng nữa nên gần như tất cả các con #panda hiện nay đều mang quốc tịch TQ, kể cả những con sinh ở nước ngoài. Đi Thành Đô thì phải đến đây thăm quốc bảo của họ nhé.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 15: Chengdu To Hanoi, Transit In Guangzhou

I didn’t have a good night sleep so I felt a lil bit tired after waking up. Alex said that he didn’t wanna miss breakfast. Alex looked forward to a Western breakfast, but they served a Chinese one. Ha ha! But I liked this kind of a light breakfast.

We rent a bike next door, at Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel, to cycle around the city. It was great to ride in Chengdu because there was no rain nor shine. I realized that the Chinese girl style of riding bicycles and e-bikes was a lot different from the Vietnamese ones. They rode bikes like guys did. No exception! It was raining a lil bit after our 3 hours of cycling.

Checked out of Angelica Hotel 5 mins before 12 noon. I liked the advertising panel near the hotel that says, ‘Red is the new attitude.’ At last, I bought some cookies as a gift for our colleagues. We had a simple lunch in a near-by store with vegetables only.

Because we still had a lot of time, Alex wanted to try a real coffee. In a building, we found a coffee shop which looked normal from outside but was of high class inside. The expensive Italian coffee here cost a lot more than what I ever tried in Vietnam.

Again, we got on the wrong bus 300 to the North Bus Station instead of the airport. At last, the bus made it to the airport soon enough for us to board the plane. We had a lil bit of trouble because Alex used his name to book my ticket, so we needed help from the China Southern Airlines for some changes.

There was no delay, but we still ran at Guangzhou Baiyunport again because I wanted to be sure we could be on time for the next international plane to Hanoi. I had a fever and was afraid of the health check and customs clearances at Guangzhou and Noi Bai airports. But turned out everything was okay. We arrived at Noi Bai airport at 10:30 PM.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 14: Danba To Chengdu

We got up very early, packed up very fast. We shared a cab with another Asian guy, costing 3 yuans each. We were early for the bus so I had a light breakfast. The drive to Chengdu got us stuck in 2 traffic jams, one of which was caused by our bus driver. He hit a car and quarreled with them for about 1 hour. The we got stuck in another traffic jam spot somewhere near Ya’an where we had been stuck on the way to Kangding on Day 3 (???).

We returned to Chengdu around 7 PM. Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel was all booked. Because we had no advance reservation, we went to the hotel next door called Angelica Hotel (安祺高酒店). The price here was cheaper, and I think this is the best accommodation we’ve stayed in China so far.

We went to eat noodles and wanton dinner at the place Alex picked the last time because he liked the noodles here a lot. The weather was kinda hot so I didn’t enjoy my wanton much.

We counted money. Except for the camera, I only spent very little here. That’s a surprise to me! But then think again, we ate little and I must have dropped some weights after this trip.

We’ll have breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant the next morning. Yahoo!

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 12: Garzê To Danba

I hardly slept so I got up early. I rushed Alex to pack things up because we had to walk to the bus station. By 6 AM, we were there and Alex found a cute Chinese girl with a red cap on the bus station. He was so glad when she got on the same bus with us that he wanted to sit next to her. What an asshole! When we stopped for lunch somewhere, he tried to talk to her a bit, but she just revealed to him that she was a journalist from Fujian and traveled to Tibet. I didn’t like her way of Western traveling at all. Don’t know why Alex was so attracted with such a girl.

The bus looked like a truck with so many things on the floor, blocking the isle. The music on the bus was too loud. Also, the driver used too much of the horn. Anyway, I didn’t feel like I would get a fever again. Hope my tonsils won’t hurt me again, either.

At the bus station, we realized that there would be no bus back to Chengdu tomorrow. Alex asked the red capped girl for help, but she only told us the thing we already knew in a way too aggressively even though she smiled, then left. Thanks to another Chinese girl who spoke English, we could book the bus ticket for the 6:30 AM bus the day after tomorrow.

Maybe because the Fujian girl was a bit rude, Alex behaved nicer to me? In the hotel, he told me I was special today. Also told me I looked more cute when I was tired. Ha ha! We decided that we’d go about Danba tomorrow because we only could come back to Chengdu the day after.

On the way to have dinner and back, I bought a pair of earrings looking like the one of Aussie woman for 30 yuans and gifts for my siblings (a folding fan for my sis and a prayer wheel for my lil bro). We had another beer but Alex didn’t like the black beer much. He wasn’t drunk, but he told me he could do everything to please me, then corrected that he would do ALMOST everything. He smiled when I asked what the exception was, then replied that it was weird stuff. So funny!

Tonight the sky had a few stars. I saw the round moon. It must be day 14 or 15 of the lunar month. These were the first stars I’ve seen since I came to China. I had expected more than that.
Alex helped me massage my neck before we went to sleep.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 3: Chengdu To Kangding

Very early in the morning, we checked out of the guesthouse and went to the West Chengdu Bus Station (also called Chadianzi) at 8 AM. The tickets showed us that we had to wait 3 hours for the bus to start for Kangding.

Just when we left the city streets, there was a big traffic jam for 3 hours. Cars and buses and trucks ran everywhere on the road, making it worse. Because people in the other lane couldn’t move ahead when people in this lane didn’t retreat.

Then the road to Kangding held a lot of fun. I saw many beautiful scenes, river one side and mountain the other side of the road. I passed big tunnels. At last, I made it in Kangding around 8 PM.

On the way to find a hostel, we met an 22 year-old Israeli guy named Gal. As we didn’t know where to stay in Kangding, we went with him to find a place. Finally, we all headed to a place called Zhilam Hostel uphill. Its decoration has a feel of Tibetan though its owners are foreigners.

I was very tired. If Alex hadn’t carried my backpack, I couldn’t have made it to the hostel at all.

It was the first time I shared a dorm room with strangers. I was a lil bit bothered by the smelly stuff of a Western couple. There was a curtain dividing our places so I just hoped there was no thief.

At 9 PM, the 3 of us went out to find food. Because Gal didn’t eat pork, and there was only barbecued food and hotpot, I bought only milk, and tried an ice cream. The ice cream surprised me. It tasted like it was the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. Alex tried something like a Chinese pizza.

Then Alex and I watched the movie “The soloist” (part 1) together.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 2: Chengdu Panda Base

We took a panda tour to visit the world famous giant pandas in the Chengdu Panda Base. They were so lovely, cutie… and all the beautiful adjectives I could use to describe an object. Even it was raining this morning, I felt so lucky to see the pandas in many of their positions: sleeping, eating breakfast, playing with each other, even lazily hanging on a tree.

Alex decided to have mapo tofu for lunch. That was my nightmare. It was so spicy I hardly ate anything except rice. Even Alex felt it spicy.

It was still raining in the afternoon. But we still took a stroll to the People’s Park with rented umbrellas. On the way back, we took the wrong bus. I realized that it went to the airport instead of the hostel.

It wasn’t late, so we stopped to discover the Wenshu Temple’s walkways. The streets around this temple were perfect for walking. We took some pictures here.

I told Alex to walk because maybe we could luckily find the shuttle car on the way back to the Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel. I was right. The driver was pleased to bring us back. We were lucky.

After finishing the second part of the Italian movie we watched yesterday, we found a good place to have dinner: I had wanton and Alex had noodles. Such a good meal!

I tried to buy 2 peaches in a fruit store. Dammit! Peaches in China looked big but tasted bad. There was mostly water inside.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 1: Hanoi To Chengdu, Transit In Guangzhou

Got the boarding pass long ahead of time, but I was still late for the boarding time because I thought that the time on the paper was the beginning time of boarding. I heard the last call for several times and realized that I was late. My French friend and I had to run at Noi Bai airport. But that wasn’t the only trouble of the day.

Filled in the immigration quarantine form on the airplane for H1N1. Though the outbreak of H5N1 was severe, but I just needed to pass a simple gate and there was no special control as far as I knew.

However, the wait to clear customs at Baiyunport in Guangzhou was quite long, but I was impressed at the largeness of the airport. It’s too big that they use horizontal escalators to help people move from gate to gate.

Alex had a problem with Chinese customs because his Omo detergent pack. Maybe they thought it was heroin?

As we reached Guangzhou at 9AM and the next flight to Chengdu is in the afternoon, we decided to spend our transit time at Guangzhou downtown. So, we got on the bus No. 2 or so which stopped at the President Hotel in the city center.

We went to a Chinese restaurant with an all-Chinese menu. After several times explaining the dish, we had a claypot of chicken rice for lunch. It tasted good!

What I did in 3 hours in this city: viewing the metro (just the ticket system and not the trains), having lunch in a restaurant where everybody stared at Alex, getting lost, and buying a brand-new camera at the technology fair, a Canon IXUS 100 IS. The salesgirl’s English was kinda limited, but she was very good at her job. She confirmed that the camera was made in Japan, and gave me a discount after convincing me for a while. The camera was also equipped with a 4 GB Kingston memory card.

We had a lot trouble catching the bus back to Baiyunport. We waited for the bus in vain in front of the President Hotel but no bus seemed to pass by. We had a lot of problem asking around as we couldn’t speak Chinese while other didn’t understand English. All the signboards were written in Chinese without any Pinyin. At last, a nice taxi driver understood what Baiyunport meant. We took the taxi to the Baiyunport bus stop about a few hundred meters away from where we thought it should have been.

Got in time for checking in at Baiyunport, but the boarding machine didn’t recognize Alex’s online tickets. Luckily, we got help. But unluckily, we had the meal on the plane before it departed because of traffic jam at the airport. I did a quiz on the plane but didn’t finish it. I knew that my English was limited.

Because of the plane delay, we checked in at the Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel at about 11:30 PM. I walked a lot today: at the airports, around the Guangzhou downtown, walking to find the hostel (under the rain), specifically getting lost several times. When we found that there was a shuttle car at the Old Sim’s Cozy, I found so relieved. And luckily, it was a free ride. Such a long day!

We haven’t booked the hostel in advance, so we were lucky to find that there’s still a room with 2 separate beds in this Sim’s Cozy. It seemed to be a well-known place in Chengdu for travelers.

Even the day was long and we were tired enough, we still watched the Italian movie Gomorra (part 1) together from my Dell netbook before sleeping.