The place Sichuan conjures up images of spicy food for most people, but for some of us, it’s all about the pandas! Of course there’s more to Sichuan than pandas. There is the scenic Jiuzhaigou 九寨溝 we had wanted to visit until the most recent earthquake over the summer essentially closed it to the public for the foreseeable future. So we ended up splitting up our time in China between Sichuan and Shaanxi – Pandas vs. Terracotta Warriors.
While in Chengdu, the tour guide had convinced the sister that Dujiangyan 都江堰 was a must see. It’s considered an engineering marvel – a ‘dam’ designed around 256 BC to irrigate the plains. In 2000, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sights along the way…
It was a nice side trip. If we had to re-plan the trip I’d personally scrap this place, and spend all my time at the main giant panda base.
The original plan was to hold pandas, but we later found out that it was no longer offered after a few pandas had died from contracting illnesses from tourists. Bummed! The confusing part was that there were some tour groups still offering ‘close encounters’ with pandas, so who knows what the real deal is. As part of our tour, we went to the smaller giant panda base in Dujianyan.
There were only 8 pandas! I think San Diego Zoo has more pandas than this place!
Most were sleeping as we went in the afternoon. FYI, pandas are active in the AM during feeding time, so if you want to see any ‘moving’ pandas make sure you go in the morning.
Disappointed, to say the least. Did I just fly all the way to China to see sleeping pandas?!?
Luckily, someone was up…
The evening was spent checking out Chengdu city, which is very metropolitan. Nice wide roads with modern buildings, putting Taipei to shame.
The way our itinerary was setup was mind boggling thanks to the unforeseen closure of Jiuzhaigou. Long story short, we were to spend 1 1/2 days in Chengdu, fly out to Xian for 3 days, and then fly back to Chengdu to stay one night before flying home. Let me just make it clear – I would not recommend this itinerary.
For the next ‘partial’ day, we had planned to hike the giant Buddha @ Leshan as well as taking the 20-minute boat tour to get a different perspective of the Buddha. Leshan is about a 2-hour drive from Chengdu, and given the time constraint our driver picked us up at the hotel @ 6AM to give us a head start. Well, luck was not on our side. We spend 4 hours driving to LeShan thanks to freeway closure. Safe to say, we didn’t hike Leshan. We did get on the boat, and that was pretty underwhelming.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site…
The plan was to leave LeShan ASAP so that we could make our flight to Xian. The driver was expecting a 4-hour trip back to Chengdu, but guess how long it took us? A little over an hour *facepalm*.
The travel gods were not on our side for this leg of the trip, but no worries, we made it up when we returned from Xian…