Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Panda day today. This is always the day that as a Tour Manager I am the most nervous. I’m always worried that I will wake everybody up early, drag them to the Panda Park and then discover that the bloody things have decided that today is the day for a lie-in indoors!

Fortunately, my furry pals didn’t let me down today, and in fact were the most active that I have ever seen them. Three of them were frolicking, no less – although the experience was obviously exhausting since after 10 minutes they sat down for breakfast and then a nap, but then, that’s a Panda’s entire life.

Pandas are delightful, but if ever a species was purpose built for extinction, it would be them. They only eat bamboo, and not just any old bamboo, just a certain kin of bamboo. Thy used to be carnivorous but have become largely (but not completely) vegetarian which means that their bamboo ingestion is not very effective so they have to eat a huge amount of it. They can only really live in the environment and climate around Chengdu. Breeding is a bit of a problem. females are in season for about 30 seconds once a year or less, and if the males are doing something more interesting at the time (watching TV, playing football etc.) then that’s it for another 12 months! Apparently the Panda Park has tried a number of locutions for the males, including hormone and pheromone treatments and letting them watch Panda Pornorgraphy (Debbie Does Chengdu?, Deep Paws?).

By lunchtime we were completely Panda’d out, so it was time to board the train for Chongqing, the largest city in the world (32 million). We stopped at a Dao’ist monastery that miraculouly survived the intense Japanese bombing in the second world war before moving on for dinner.

The day ended with the boarding of our Ship for our 3 night cruise along the Yangtze River through the beautiful Three Gorges area. As we sailed out of Chongqing we enjoyed the city light display.

One of the effects of being in a Gorge is that internet connectivity can be a little bit hit and miss, so I may not be able to post updates for a couple of days. Normal service will resume when we get to Wuhan, unless the internet Gods smile upon us.

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