• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 18

Day 18 – 13th January 2020

Great responses – please keep those good luck messages coming.

Today was a mapped out day. I knew what I had to do and the order to get it done. First job walk over the road to buy ticket for train tomorrow going to Chongqing. The thing about buying rail tickets in China is that the government need to know that you’re on the move. I am led to believe that it an offence for any Chinese national to not have I.D. on his person at all times. So any ticket needs your I.D. card or passport, otherwise you can’t buy one. It is all computerised so that everyone at all times are accounted for. I got a ticket for tomorrow, so the next job was bus ticket to go see the pandas.

Outside Chengdu railway station west exit.

So that throws up a whole different set of problems. I ask so many people using Bobby talk trying to get directions and advice. In the end it comes down to a picture. A panda picture. “Aaah - Ping nong ding dongs,” I am directed to a bus with a panda on it. The bus stop in the bus station is the only one with a panda on it. The driver of the bus with the panda on it, waiting at the bus stop with the panda on it, is wearing a badge with a panda on it. I must be on a safe bet here. Not on your life! It was the right bus but the wrong time, I am told by sign language. In twenty minutes there will be another bus coming. I will know which bus it is because there will be a panda on it. It did have a panda on it. It did stop at the panda bus stop and yes the driver did have a panda badge. Almost. He had smoke coming out of the engine so a new bus was sent for should be along in thirty minutes. Will it have a panda on it? No because it is a spare bus to use for other routes as well. So an hour in at the bus stop with a panda on it, there arrives a bus without a panda on it, but the driver does have a badge. So on the basis of two out of three, here we go. It cost about £1 or $1.25c U.S. and took about forty five minutes. On the way the bus passed every possible monument to the panda. Statues, walls, buildings, road signs all about panda awareness. Increasingly there was wild bamboo growing by the roadside and all down the avenue leading to the Panda Breeding Centre.

There were children and adults, all wearing panda, memorabilia, which ordinarily I would find objectionable. In this case however, one presumes all profits are ploughed back into the research. I loved the place that was around the size of a medium theme park. What I like particularly with pandas is the lack of ambiguity – It’s all just black and white. I will let the pictures do the talking.

This one was soooooh cute.

Finally a little bit of a technical blip at the panda compound

I was there about three hours today because they fascinated me. Giant pandas were on the brink of extinction only a few decades ago, so thanks to government programs such as this, their numbers are increasing.

When I got back to the hotel this evening I noticed out of my window a local street market next to a couple of cafes. I went to have a look not quite expecting the array of cooked animals heads for sale. People were buying and eating these as though delicacies. There were just to name a few, rats heads, goats heads, snake heads, and complete cooked snakes. Chickens feet, ducks with the heads and beaks left on, pigs snouts, ears, jaws and tongues as well as an incredible array of vegetables. I went into a cafe for my dinner, ordering by the pictures on the wall. It was a shouting cafe. Whatever you ordered was not written down but immediately shouted, at a good level of decibels, down to the chefs at the open ended kitchen. The system seemed to work and rather unusually they were happy in their jobs. Meat, rice, three varieties of vegetables, plus the best pak choy I have ever tasted. I have no idea what the meat was that they served me, perhaps better not to dwell, but the whole meal was spicy and delicious. It was washed down with a litre bottle of Chinese beer and the lot came to £2.40p (around $3.5 U.S.)

At the table next to mine I watched in fascination two ladies tackle a turkey foot each. They sucked away happily spitting out the tough claws, sinew, and tendons. It was a pile of spat out bits that they couldn't digest. - Not pleasant to view, but not uncommon here.

Hopefully a good nights sleep.

On the road again tomorrow.

Position: 30°37¢55” N 104°08¢31”E – Miles completed: 07771

Location: Chengdu, China. 19:22 - 13th January 2020 - Journey 18 days 10 hours

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