Panda Zoo, Chongqing

Shanghai    Suzhou    Guilin    Wuhan    Yangtze    Xian    Beijing


Visiting the Panda Zoo at Chongqing





Pandas. We were looking forward to seeing the pandas. Some of us had seen pandas in zoos in the United States, but seeing them in China ... well, that presented it in a different light. Luckily, we arrived early at the panda zoo since it was Saturday. Already crowded, we threaded our way through the throngs and with patience, got a fairly close view of these incredible creatures.

First, we saw the red pandas, which are relatives of the raccoon. You can see the resemblance in the picture. Moving along, we came upon the stars of the show, the giant pandas. In the first enclosure, we saw a mother and her baby. The baby was trying to climb up to the mother, and the mother reached down to help him up. As in America, the show elicited lots of ooohs and aaahs from the mostly Chinese audience as well as from us. But soon cameras turned on us, and we quickly became an attraction almost on a par with the pandas. Chinese in the interior don’t often get to see creatures like us. I will tell more about the Chinese people photographing us, but it started in earnest here in Chongqing at the panda zoo.

As we left the zoo around 10:30, the hoards crowded the entry way, making it difficult to work out way out. But we managed, breathing a sigh of relief that we had toured the zoo early, before the main crush of Chinese tourists.

Flying Tigers

Since we had finished early, too early for lunch, Sheila took us to the Flying Tigers Museum. To quote from their Web site:

Flying Tigers was the nickname of the first American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The Flying Tigers fought against the much stronger Japanese Air Force, shooting down over 2600 Japanese aircraft at the cost of 500 planes, safeguarded the Chinese air route Hump Hump Flight.
By the time we finished touring the museum, we bused off to downtown Chongqing for lunch.

Lunch

The bus drove us downtown for lunch. We got off in at a wide, long pedestrian mall filled with shops and people. Our restaurant was on the sixth floor of a building on the mall. This time, we didn’t have to share the place with dozens of other tourists, and the food was the best on the trip up to that point in our itinerary. All the previous meals tasted bland. Sheila explained that Chongqing sat in Sichuan province, an area known for spicy food.

After that excellent lunch, we had some free time in the mall, rubbing elbows with the throngs of people milling about. Of course, the largest city in China, with a population of almost thirty million people, would attract lots of people to its shopping and dining district. Lost in the background of my picture, you can see the People’s Liberation Monument. But look at a closer picture of the structure lit up at night. It’s far more impressive.

Foot Massage or Museum?

Back on the bus, Sheila asked for a show of hands for how many wanted a foot massage. About seven of us opted for it, while the rest of us got off the bus and had free time at the Chongqing Museum. Entry to the museum was free, and it was a large museum with lots of various exhibits. In front of the museum a huge square spread out toward a huge hall of the Communist party called the Great Hall of the People. Those of us who didn’t want our feet massaged had two hours of free time on our own in the museum and the square and surrounding shops. Some spent the time in the museum, which was stuffy and warm, while others of us wandered around or just found a shady spot to sit and relax and people watch. Or more likely, get watched by the people. The most amusing reaction came from some of the kids who maybe had never seen a white face before. They would stare, mouth agape, as though they’d just seen some extraterrestrial being.

As we relaxed, some of us saw a vendor selling popcorn. I bought a bag, but gagged on the first taste because instead of salt, they’d put sugar on the popcorn. I was going to throw it away, but one guy in our group (Robby) decided he’d eat it. Shortly after, we found a vendor selling beer. Fortunately, the beer tasted very good and well chilled, just what we needed to quench our thirst on what had become a very hot day.

Silk Factory

We next visited a silk factory. We watched women working on the silk every step of the way except for spinning the cocoon that the silk threads came from. After touring the factory, we went upstairs to see some finished products. Many of us ended up buying something made of silk. I bought a beautiful light green bathrobe with subtle Chinese designs and calligraphy.

Off to Xian

From the silk factory, our bus took us to the airport to catch our flight to the next stop, the city of Xian and the Terracotta Warriors.


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