Sichuan is the home of the Giant Panda and Chengdu has the most famous Panda breeding centre so that’s where I headed. You can hike through the forest and see wild Pandas but I’m too lazy to hike all day and have the chance of not seeing a single Panda.
The place where I’m staying wrote me some instructions in Chinese which told me which buses to take. It sounded difficult getting 2 busses to a place outside of the city in a country that don’t speak English and I cannot read any Chinese.
I got on the first bus then about 30 minutes later got out at a sketchy looking bus station on the edge of the city. My Chinese instructions had a number 87 on so I found an bus saying 87 on the front then got on that, showed the old boy my instructions and he gave me a thumbs up and let me on after I payed 2 quai (20p).
Another 30 mins on a bumpy road in a bus without suspension I arrived at a super busy Panda zoo. I was thinking that this place was different to a typical zoo. Nope, it’s just a zoo with a load of Pandas and one peacock.
Pandas are super lazy. They lay about eating bamboo and don’t do much else. Half of them looked dead laying on their back not moving. The Pandas I did see moving were either shitting or eating.
There’s not much to say about the zoo and i’m not sure about the ethics of the place. There were a lot of Chinese people banging on the windows at the Pandas, shouting and making loads of noise.
It can’t be good for the animals; getting harassed every day for their whole life. A Panda and it’s baby were sitting in one of the enclosures. Every time they did something 500+ people would cheer or shout stuff at them. I’m not animal welfare expert or WWF activist but that can’t be good for the animal’s wellbeing.
Three hours of walking around the Panda zoo was enough. It’s weird that even at a zoo the Chinese people were taking pictures of me, the foreigner. I caught a couple of people pretending to take pictures of the panda but just taking a picture of me. The Red Pandas were hiding so you couldn’t see many of them but there was lots of Giant Pandas.
I headed back into Chengdu, shot some street photography and ate tofu.