Panda Kingdom – Sichuan Province, China

Chengdu New Year Celebration

Chengdu New Year Celebration

Arriving in Chengdu the night of the start of the official Chinese New Year meant we had plenty of street fare entertainment and food to explore. Fireworks exploded at every interchange, some sounding as though they were directly outside my hotel window. I didn’t spend more than a part of a day on either side of my travels through this city, but I did get a chance to learn more about this vacation hub.

Giant Pandas

Giant Pandas, photo by Nitin Ticku

First, this is the gateway to the Panda Kingdom of China. 80% of the panda’s live in the Sichuan Province and Chengdu has a prominent Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding where an attempt to breed Pandas and reintroduce them into the wild has become of great importance. Pandas are nearly extinct with 113 in this Base, 6 reintroduced for the first time into the wild in Jan of 2012. 1500 are said to exist in the wild with 333 held captive, globally. The center is actually looking for Pambassadors to help care for these Giants. I found a magazine that talks all about Pandas in my hotel, which I kept and read on the plane later. Fascinating information about this rare creature. Unfortunately, I did not see one in the wild let alone in captivity.

Sichuan meal

Sichuan meal featuring the classic mapo doufu

Next, Sichuan food tends to be spicy. Not mild spice either. A classic dish is the Mapo doufu. Many dishes contain peppers and are heavy on the oil, but the taste is flavorful. I didn’t mind the spice, even when friends were sweating from the heat. Note the dish in the lower left corner, pictured here, is all pepper and little meat. That is the Sichuan way. J The mapo doufu is in the upper right corner.

Once again, Chinese food did not disappoint. Despite the street fare, we dined in an obscure restaurant and then walked the streets taking in the festivities and sampling treats as we went. In this short video you will see two men pounding out what appears to be a kind of brittle candy. Yum! The rest of our party arrived by the end of the night and the next day we gathered for breakfast, last minute food supply and ATM withdrawal. Next stop, Shuangqiaogou. We have hired drivers who will drive us there. It takes 6 hours. Logistics will be posted after the trip report is complete. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, enjoy this short video that captures some of the New Year festivities and surroundings of Chengdu before heading up into the Chinese Himalayas for some ice climbing!

Gong Xi, Gong Xi from the Little Dragon Tales

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About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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