We had an early start today – too bad we couldn’t stay in this beautiful hotel a bit longer. The breakfast was incredible. It was the usual buffet style but it had many different stations – both Chinese and western.
Our guide, Fen, gathered us up and onto our bus early to try and miss the worst of the morning rush. We got to the Panda Research Base within twenty minutes. It’s a huge parkland filled with beautiful bamboo trees arching over the walkways, ponds (I even saw a swan) and beautiful flowering plants (I couldn’t tell what they were but I did see bougainvillea). We followed Fen along the winding trails until we started seeing sleeping pandas in the trees. They are really hilarious as they lounge in the branches. I’m not sure whether this is typical behaviour of pandas in the wild or it is simply because these pandas are so well cared for that they don’t have to worry about foraging. One fellow was splayed out over a log munching on a bamboo stick – at peace with the world.
The baby pandas (under a couple of years) are kept with their mothers in a separate area where we are allowed to go indoors to view them through glass windows. Dawne and I found ourselves at the back of our group and before you knew it we were totally separated from them. It seems that the nursery area for the baby pandas was a huge attraction and people were bunching up there. That caused a backup all the way past where Dawne and I were trying to make our way forward. We got caught in a huge crush of humanity from which we could not escape. It was actually quite scary. We were to have met our group outside the baby exhibit but we could not move. It must have taken at least twenty minutes before we spied an opening in the crowd and were able to make a break for it. Yikes – not fun.
From here we caught up with the group and headed to the red panda area. I only spied one. They are not really pandas – more like large red raccoons.
Next was shopping at the official panda shop then off to a local lunch. I didn’t end up buying anything in the panda shop though a few people did. Lunch was another delicious “lazy Susan” style meal with beer, tea and Sprite chasers.
We bused it to the train station and loaded onto another bullet train heading for Xian. The bullet train reached speeds of 245 km/hr – not too shabby. I was with Rosalind and Melanie and we got into a couple of games of Golf (otherwise known as Kings). Rosalind was the big time winner. The train was very comfortable and our trip went quickly event though it was about three hours.
So now we are in the Titan Hotel. It is a bit older and nowhere near as magnificent as last night’s Kempinski but our room is clean – with a seating area as well as a sleeping area. The bathroom is nice but dated.
We joined up with Alan, Rosalind and Dave and Dawne for a scotch in Alan’s room and then a late supper in the hotel’s dining room. I had a club sandwich that was quite good. I was ready for something less Chinese just for a change.