Our home for the next few nights was the JinJiang Hotel a bit outside the city center but near to a metro station. A lot of the bigger cities have now a metro system in place and are continuously expanding its reach. Quite a good idea as inner-city roads are often very congested.

One of the first things we noticed in Chengdu was that it was a bit cooler than in Yichang and Chongqing – something we appreciated a lot. We also didn’t mind that it was overcast most of the time.

The rest of the day we spent relaxing and trying some of the very nice noodles from a small stall across the street of the hotel (we would revisit this shop a few more times as especially Kevin loved the “Dao Xiao Mian – knife cut noodles” there).

The next day we wanted to visit the Giant Panda Research Center one of the highlights of Chengdu. As almost always we didn’t book an organized tour but rather figured our way there by public buses (thanks to google maps, a local sim card and Hazel’s language skills it wasn’t that complicated). The center was an absolute highlight. It was great fun to watch the pandas eating (and man, they eat a lot of bamboo – but then no wonder as apparently bamboo is high in fiber but low in nutrition) and playing around. As you can imagine especially the young pandas were very cute and we spent a few relaxed hours just watching them.

Besides the giant pandas the center also had red pandas which are not really pandas but look like a mix of a raccoon and a fox. Interestingly their “cages” were semi-open and so that they could more or less freely roam the whole park – you could always figure were they were if you followed the screaming tourists. Good fun too.

In the late afternoon we had a look at the very modern pedestrian area of Chengdu with its hundreds of shops and heaps of shoppers. Once again we were impressed/surprised how modern everything is.

After another lazy rest-day we went on a day-trip to Leshan which was about a three hours bus ride south of Chengdu. The town claims its fame because of the Big Buddha (apparently one of the worlds tallest sitting Buddhas).

Before visiting the Big Buddha itself we had a look around the ad-joint Buddha Park which featured a wide range of different Buddhas including one giant sleeping Buddha. We thought it was quite a good collection and enjoyed strolling around the different statues.

Unfortunately, due to recent heavy rain and high water levels, we could only see the Big Buddha from top (i.e. see his big head from close) as the narrow walk way down to its feet was closed. Pity! Perhaps we should have opted for the boat ride which would have stopped just in front of the Buddha but we kind of missed that. Nevertheless it was a fun day trip (despite the bus breaking down for an hour on the way back).

The day after the next we continued our China trip to Jiuzhaigou. We enjoyed Chengdu (and it’s spicy hot pots) and thought that it’s quite a nice city with quite a few things to do.

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