Friday, July 10, 2015

Panda Day!!!
Chengdu is in the Sichuan province which is known for spicy food! Our guide said its also known for "spicy girls and 'soft eared' boys". I guess the girls are supposed to be bossy and the boys easy to be pulled around by the ear??? Mmmm, not sure. Chengdu is known for something else specific; pandas!!! One of the things that Georgie was most looking forward to doing on this trip was getting to hold a panda. Sadly, a few months before our trip we were contacted by the touring and told panda holding was being suspended due to concerns that the contact wasn't healthy for the animals. Understandable, of course, but still a major bummer. Imagine my happiness when just a few days before we were to leave we were contacted and told that they were going to have us visit a different location where the panda holding was still allowed!! Yay!!

So finally, panda day had arrived. Georgie was fully prepared for the experience wearing a panda shirt and hat... she even brought along a stuffed panda :-)  I think the place we went to was called Balang but I'm not sure. Truthfully, not the best panda viewing experience I've ever had. Certainly not as good as the exhibit we'd seen just a few weeks before at the San Diego Zoo. But, the real thrill was getting to touch the panda.

All the participants (I counted about 50) dressed themselves in surgical type scrubs and plastic gloves and waited in line. The panda was only about a year old (a toddler) but he was as big as a Georgie! One by one each person then got to sit on the bench next to the panda for about 10 seconds (not an exaggeration whatsoever) and side hug him while he absentmindedly munched on bamboo stalks. That's right, for only $30 a second Georgie got to temporarily hang with a panda!! And, guess what? It was TOTALLY WORTH IT!!! I have a picture of my kid hugging a freaking panda!!! I'm so excited!

Just as an aside, do the math 50 huggers x $300 per hug = $15,000 collected in just under 15 minutes. Bobby decided right then and there that he was going to come home, quit his job, buy a panda and live on easy street the rest of his life :-)

After lunch at a gorgeous hotel nearby we were taken to Jinli Street for shopping. It was the weekend of the Dragon Boat Festival, so a holiday, and it was jam packed with Chinese tourists; as in body on body. Still, a super neat place. All kinds of handmade artist stuff. Some of it was high end, some not, fun little restaurants, tea houses and bars. We could have hung out there all day! Next time for sure. Bobby was thrilled to come across the flower shaped cotton candy.

That evening we had another show. This time it was a variety type thing but the main attraction was the mask changing. Bobby took video so I'll try to post it. Very cool. Another super fun, super exhausting day...with pandas!

This is something I saw in every city we visited... workers with straw brooms sweeping the streets. China is so industrialized in so many ways, and in other ways, so not.

panda shirt? check. panda hat? check. stuffed panda? check

So cool!!!

snacks for sale on Jinli Street. Other than the lotus root on the top left I have NO idea what these things are. Dead baby something obviously.

 The world's most beautiful cotton candy :-)


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