Away in Chengdu

Lexi Kelley
July 26, 2018

Most students traveled out of Shanghai for our 3-day weekend, last week. Two of my friends and I headed to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, known for extremely spicy food, lots of tea, and PANDAS!

We embarked on our journey Thursday night on an evening flight; Chengdu is three hours by plane. The impending tropical storm heading toward East China caused ourflight to be delayed until 11pm, when we finally boarded our flight. We were off to a little bit of a rocky start, but were excited for an action-packed weekend.

Friday morning we woke up at 6:30am after three-and-a-half hours of sleep to get ready for our day at the Dujiangyan Panda Base. Dujiangyan is one of the two popular panda centers in Chengdu. We had booked reservations to work as volunteers and help the keepers clean and feed the pandas.

We departed on our one-and-a half-hour drive to the base and were greeted by a team of keepers in bright green polo shirts. We received our very own polos and after changing into our very fashionable new uniform, we headed outside to meet the pandas. To start the day we worked on cleaning up the poop and bamboo from the outdoor-enclosures and prepared the pandas’ breakfast of fresh bamboo, while the pandas were still inside sleeping. Once we were done outside, we headed inside to wash the floors of their indoor-enclosures, while they enjoyed their breakfast outside.

After the morning cleaning and feeding, we were given the chance to take a photo with a 1-year-old panda before having free time to walk around the entirety of the park and take our lunch break with the rest of the volunteers and keepers. In the afternoon, we headed back to the enclosure and checked in with our new panda friends. Apparently, pandas are super picky about their bamboo so we had to clear out the morning bamboo that we had cracked open and prepare a new batch of bamboo to give the pandas for lunch. I was shocked at how spoiled these pandas seemed, but they were so cute so anything they did was fine in my book! After a long day in the heat and many pictures later, we said goodbye to the fluffy black and white bears and got back in the car to head home. The combination of beating sunand low sleep allowed us to fall asleep in the car immediately!

We arrived back at our hotel to hop in the shower and get clean before heading to dinner and the Chengdu Opera House to see the evening’s performance.

The outdoor opera house theater was packed with audience members fanning themselves and drinking tea. The show was highly entertaining with singing, dancing, puppetry, masks, and lots of humor interspersed throughout the night. After a long day we headed back to our hotel and took the next morning to sleep in a little.

On Saturday, we headed to Mount Qingcheng to see all of the temples that dotted the side of the mountain. Qingcheng is famous for its Daoist temples. After climbing many stairs in the hot sun, we headed to a lively hot pot restaurant to rest our tired legs and fuel our bodies for Sunday. We tried various different meats and even ate cow’s stomach lining, which was surprisingly tasty, despite its visual appearance. The restaurant was located on one of the famous tourist streets. After dinner we walked around for a little before it got too late, looking at all the different street vendors.

Sunday was another early morning for us. We were out the door by 7:00am in order to make our way to the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base to see the baby pandas that had just been born. We arrived at this base at 7:30am, just as the park opened so that we could skip the long lines. On Friday, we couldn’t get over how cute the adult pandas were, but boy oh boy were these baby pandas the most adorable things I had ever seen! After gawking at the little guys for some time, we left the park and headed to the Wu Hou Shrine. However, on our way we received a text saying our flight would be delayed until Tuesday night due to the storm.

We were “stuck” in Chengdu for another two days without any accommodations. After a small amount of panicking, we decided to embrace this delay with open arms, found a new hotel, and began planning our next two days… we were ready to keep exploring!

Monday morning we woke up bright and early to travel to Leshan to see the Giant Buddha. The Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest stone-carved Buddha in the world. We hiked to the top, admiring the size and detail of this 233-foot tall Buddha. We explored the other attractions located along the mountain including gardens, caves, pagodas, and shrines, before hopping on the hour-long train back to the hotel. After yet another day in the blistering heat, we treated ourselves to a movie night in our hotel and an early bedtime.

Tuesday, our last day in Chengdu, started with a relaxing morning before heading to the Chengdu museum. The AC felt refreshing as we admired the artifacts on all five levels of the museum. Before heading to the airport, we checked out People’s Park to finish off our five-day Chengdu vacation.

On Thursday night, when we departed for Chengdu, I definitely didn’t expect to experience as much of Chengdu as we were able to. I was pleasantly surprised by our extended long weekend and was so happy that we got to see as much as we did! As a lover of spicy foods, cute animals, and hiking, I would say that my last weekend trip outside of Shanghai was a success and would highly recommend visiting Chengdu if you ever have the chance!

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Lexi Kelley

<p>Ever since I was a child, my life has always been linked to helping other people. I founded Kids Helping Kids when I was in sixth grade after I was in a serious car accident. While in the hospital, I heavily relied on the support of my friends and family as I had recovered. As I reflected on my accident and the serious injuries I had suffered, I saw the incredible power that I was shown as everyone came together to help me heal. The idea to start KHK was inspired by the small acts of kindness I witnessed from so many. I was so moved by the generosity of my peers that I wanted to harness that energy and share it with others, who may not have the same access to support. Kids Helping Kids has changed the way I view the world and others around me. I love volunteering because of the experiences and lessons I gain. It has shown me the power I have to make a difference in another person's life, and the impact that the people we serve have on my life.</p>

2018 Spring, 2018 Summer 1, 2018 Summer 2
Home University:
Lafayette College
Gilford, NH
International Affairs
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