Hannah’s Panda Adventure in China
I got broads in Atlanta
We all know the song that is played whilst we get ready on a Saturday night of dancing and regrets, but it wasn’t until I set off on my whirlwind adventure, that I truly came to understand the importance of the Panda Bear and its role it plays in the culture and morale of China.
After a brief interlude of missing my flight from Beijing to Chengdu, I was greeted by my fresh-faced translator who quickly became my best friend upon the trip. Stella was the epitome of calm and compassionate, as I told her my story of ‘the time I got lost in Beijing’. After meeting the other travellers braving this interesting and daunting world of new language, we set off to our hostel and exciting week ahead.
The promise of seeing the Panda’s at the Chengdu base was looming as we dressed in the morning. The weather, thankfully, was lovely and toasty so we enjoyed a day of tee-shirts before heading to the mountains. After a day of travelling around Chengdu city, taking in the sights and sounds of the vibrant and eclectic environment, we ended our evening at a Hot Pot dinner. Vegetarian food has never tasted so good.
We set off the next day for the Ya’an City Panda Base. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the lovely staff who were always smiling and willing to help with any requirements you need. They told us about the opportunities we would have to travel to great temples, climb the 10,000 steps in the city and of course visit the Giant Buddha. These, my friends and I gladly achieved on our weekends off. Despite the somewhat patchy wifi, the hostel was a place that was very much a home away from home. After an amazing waterfall walk on the doorstep of the Panda base, we came back to Hostel to be greeted by the best food I have ever eaten in my life. I have never been so well fed, and in love with food as much as I was on this trip.
But the day had come where I finally got to meet my panda.
I woke up eager and ready to take on any task the keepers had in store for me. This ranged from clearing the cages, to washing the floors, and of course picking up the illicit ‘panda poo’. I will be honest; it was surprisingly pleasant as there was no odour and it was basically like bamboo. But the most important and exciting task we were given was the feeding of the pandas. My panda, a 17year old female called Le Shen (meaning life happiness) was the most gorgeous creature, who was shy at first, but once she realised that I was the one to bring her panda cake and apples every day, she and I were inseparable. I spent my free time hanging out with her, and watching her explore her world that I helped keep clean and fresh. She will forever be a very important part of my growth and my own journey.