China day 8: Chengdu Panda Research Facility

This morning saw an early start to the day. We once again hired a driver for the day to take us on our ambitious trek. We have over 400km journey today! First up was a visit to the Chendu Giant Panda research facility, which is the largest captive breeding programs for pandas in the world.

At college we had an awesome chinese restaurant called “Panda House”

When you arrive you pay about $10 to get in, and then have the option to pay another few bucks to take a ride up the hill to the nursery or you can walk for about 20 minutes. Um, ride please. At the nursery you get to see the baby pandas in the incubators and man they were so cute, but no photos 😦 then exiting that, its kinda just a bust and here is where the hustle comes again. So they advertise that you can get up close and personal with the pandas and feed and touch them. The Stig was pumped to pet and coddle the panda, hence our flight here in the first place. What they don’t tell you is that it’s like $200 to take a picture with a panda. Yes $200, and. You can’t even go in and see them up close unless you pay that. We’d been lured by promises of pandas up close and personal and we got a massive door and hands outstretched for the dough. Bust. Somehow all the guide books and the locals forgot to tell us this. Grrr.

The queue of rich folk who were willing to pay

So given that we were cheap, and while the soft fur of the panda was appealing to the Stig, we still decided to pass. So we walked around to see what we could get for the price of admission, and what it amounts to is a basic zoo. Ugh. And because it’s pandas they freaking just sit there and sleep, even though this was feeing time. But we did manage to get a couple of pics

“Jill” sitting

But we did learn where baby pandas come from, and it was traumatizing.

There isn’t a panda stork?

So after seeing Jill, panda sex, and another Panda in a concrete box, we bounced. On our way back to the car, we found the second largest breeding program!! It was amazing luck, and again not in our guide book! And at this center, they let us have run of the place, and you could even “adopt” a panda for cheap too!

Second Largest Breeding Center

Cute pandas, tied up.

They love tourists so much they even scarified one panda to make a hat!

So with two panda centers under our belt, it’s back to the car, and a long drive to the next leg of the adventure.

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