After our heavenly stay at Buddha Zen hotel, Felipe and mum set up for another day of discovery. Below the route map route for our day:
The Panda Research Breeding of Giant Pandas
The centre is located 10 km from Chengdu city centre. This site was built to simulate in the best possible way the natural habitat of giant pandas, with the goal of safeguarding the best possible chance for their breeding.
As expected the site was packed, as everywhere in China we had been before. But at this point we had mastered the art of walking from side to side thru multitudes, so we managed pretty well. The day was hot and humid but we were comforted by the lovely sight of the pandas.
These creatures are truly a Chinese national gem, now loved and admired by many people all over the world. Giant Pandas are native from the Sichuan region, so the fact that the centre is located here makes it very positive for the success of their breeding. Sadly, there are only nowadays less than 2,000 pandas and most of them in the Sichuan region. This is why the job of this research centre is vital as their main objective is Panda breeding.
Felipe and I were keen to see the baby pandas so we got on with the trouble of making the queue, which was worth to see them in the nurseries, so cute. The nursery has staff managing people crowds walking past the windows for a quick look. Great idea for adults and children alike so we did not get too pushed on this one.
We enjoyed very much seeing these delightful animals, their charm is fascinating! They all look so relaxed and blissful in there. It was particularly special to see the cute panda families, where mother and pandas youngsters were interacting playfully with each other.
Despite the crowds, I found the site well-structured with good exhibitions reachable to all visitors to display the different stages of the life of the pandas. From babies in incubators, toddlers and to adults. Our guide Sammy told us there were over 70 pandas here at the base.
We then visited another area of the centre, where we could eyesight other species such as the red pandas, beautiful ones! They looked more like foxes to me, like beautiful red foxes grabbed from a childhood bedtime story,!! I feel lucky to see them to up-close. They are also on the list of endangered wild animals.
We then walked around the green bamboos trees and through bright flowers, pathways to finish our visit with a smile.
Overall, an extraordinary place visit, an exceptional opportunity to see pandas up close. The centre does vital research investigation, so it is important that visitors view it as such rather than as a “zoo”. Also, as mentioned before, this is a very hectic place, so I simply suggest getting there very early and spend at least 3 to 4 hours to fully appreciate it all, also bring plenty of water!.
Leshan Giant Buddha:
Right after our visit to Pandaland, we left for Leshan. The distance of this journey from Chengdu Base Panda centre is 195 Km, journeying south of Chengdu. We arrived at 3 pm, stopping on the way just to have lunch. The Giant Buddha is located to the east of the Leshan city, at the confluence of the rivers, Min, Qingyi and Dadu. It took us 3 hours to arrive here, including the lunch stop.
Boat Ride: First thing we went on was a 30 minutes boat ride to get a broad scenic view of the Giant Buddha. It was certainly a great way to spot it since this structure is huge (over 70 metres high / 9 metres wide!), so experiencing from the boat was a good idea, furthermore, this allowed us to the fine points of its carvings. It was quite something to witness the giant Buddha chiselled into the side of the cliff! The figure is a sculpture of a monk with a subtle smile and uncovered chest in sitting posture.
The story behind this Giant Buddha: as Sammy told us, began in the year 713, under the Tang Dynasty, when a concerned monk called Hai Tong, commenced the project, due to his concern for the safety of the fishermen, who earned their living around the confluence of the three rivers and were continuously devastated by the tempestuous waters. Hai Tong had the idea of carving this Buddha to bring the water spirit under control.
During the nearly 90 years that took to carve it, delays often occurred due to lack of funding, but thanks to the persistence of the people and thousands of carve workers joining efforts it was finished in 803.
After the boat ride, we went for a walk around the site and climbed 333 steps up to the rooftop, which allowed to view the statue’ head. Many other people were queuing to get down to the Buddha’s feet, we did not feel like it, it was a probably 2 hour’s wait queue, and we felt we already appreciate the site fully. Super visit, very hectic but the great.
“I thought the secret of life was obvious: be here now, love as if your whole life depended on it, find your life’s work, and try to get hold of a giant panda and the giant Buddha!!!!!!!!! ..”