It was time to say goodbye to Princess Jeannie (the boat) and the friends we had made on the journey. I found my little dancing friend and we had one last sing along and dance. We also had to say good bye to Tiffany, which was very sad, as she had become one of us! No more mahjong games with her.
We disembarked in Chongqing – city of 30 million people!! The thought astounded me as that is more than the whole population of Australia. The city was huge, traffic busy and pollution shocking. I just can’t conceive living in a place with that many people. The train station was massive!!! We had to catch a train to Chengdu. Thankfully we have no more crappy ‘K’ trains to catch and we are only using the nice fast speed trains. It was like being on an aeroplane. The train had ‘attendants’, you could ask for a blanket, there was tea and coffee and meals to buy. There were even TVs!!!
The main reason for stopping at Chengdu is to visit the Panda Breeding Centre. Up early we arrived at the centre with hoards of other tourists. Thankfully we are a small group so we managed to miss most of the hoards. The pandas are just gorgeous but it is no wonder that they are facing extinction – they are dumb!!! They only mate once per year and are fussy with who they want to be with. When they do fall pregnant and have the baby they actually do not know what to do with it (especially if it is their first). A panda is anywhere between 50 – 75kg and the baby is only (on ave.) 100g so it is tiny. It also comes out pink – with no fur. They show video footage of some mother pandas swatting the baby around thinking it is food (as they eat rats!). The panda keepers have to rattle the cage to distract the mother and so someone can run in to get the baby!
We also got to see red pandas – which look nothing like a panda or a bear. They are like a mixture of a raccoon, cat, dog and fox but very very cute. When they are born they look like one of those creatures before it turns into a gremlin!
Some of us also chose to take a cooking class today. I was definitely up for it, as I basically have not cooked for 7 months. We learnt how to make sweet and sour pork, which is NOTHING like what we get back at home. Then it was schezuan chicken, spicy eggplant and dumplings. After each dish we got to eat it and I must say my Chinese cooking aint half bad. Everything was so easy and quick to make with core ingredients of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, cornflour, salt, pepper, sugar and chilies. The lady was very good and thoiugyt we were very funny especially when we were making the dumplings. She showed over and over again the 2 different styles of folding the dumpling but most of us, especially me, were crap at it and our end product was a motley mix. I decided that since I could not do it I would just create my own designs such as a handbag and Australia - the lady loved my Australia.