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The Yogurt and the Pandas

How did I forget about the pandas?!

One of our more frustrating and fun days in China was spent in Chengdu when we went to the much tourist visited Panda Breeding Center located just outside of the city. According to the Koran, the pandas sleep right after eating so you need to get there early to catch them before and during breakfast so we decided to wake up early and get moving.

Pandas Playing

Pandas Playing

The night before, Kelly and I had mentioned our desire to eat yogurt in place of the hot Chinese buffet offered by the hotel. Upon hearing this, Mr Chow took some initiative and showed up to breakfast the next morning with three of what would first appear to be juice boxes at the table. Upon a closer inspection, it was clear from their white color and absence of fruit on the label that this was something else entirely.

“I went looking for yogurt this morning but they didn’t have any so I got this. The guy said this is the same thing”

And if you’ve been paying attention then you know that “same thing” means not at all the same but shares some similar detail like “both are white” or “both can be consumed” or something.

“Well thanks for getting this, but it comes with a straw, in a juice box. And its warm. It doesn’t appear to be the same…What yogurt doesn’t need to be refridgerated?” trying to combine both a thanks for the effort with a please don’t make me eat/drink/taste this.

“It’s the same thing. It is good for your digestion!”

If you ever want to sell a product in China, just just claim it is in some way good for your health. You don’t need to prove this. Actually, this is probably true in America as well.

Not wanting to be unthankful, I popped the straw in the box and took a short and concerned sip. The thick, milk like fluid was both sweet and weird. I imagine something similar to milk powder added to luke warm water and then combined with some sort of sweetner. It WAS weird.

“Pai. This isn’t the same thing.”

“Same thing!”

“Pai. You taste it!”

To which he took a taste and it was obvious that he didn’t like it. His eyes did that thing that they do when you’re trying to figure out what the hell something is.

“Ok ok. It isn’t the same.”

But having spent money on it, he was not going to throw it away even if it tasted bad. It went back to his room where I’m sure it was consumed at some point.

So after that incident we managed to find some real yogurt and then hopped in a cab for the pandas. This was one of the main reasons we went to Chengdu and so were pretty excited to be on our way. The cab driver took off and while there was some traffic, it went pretty smoothly for the first 20 minutes or so.

And then we hit mega traffic jam. Everything stopped. Nobody was moving except to try and cut the car off next to him to try and gain like 3 feet at a time. The 3×3 road turned into a 5×1 road as all cars going in our directionj tried to take over all lanes but still we barely moved.

As the minutes ticked closer to feeding time, we started getting frustrated. There were no side roads to take off on as construction on the side of the road boxed us into a path that couldn’t be changed. When we realized that this wasn’t going to work, we argued amongst ourselves for a bit and then finally hopped out of the car and started speed walking through traffic.

After about 1/3 of a mile we came across the problem. A 5-way intersection with no traffic lights. Everybody was trying to turn in front of somebody else with little to no luck. Cars faced each other, stuck in gridlock as each person tried to get to their exit point first.

We noticed two cops at the intersection but they were off to the side with no interest in trying to fix the situation. They watched idly as if it wasn’t their job to go direct traffic – which I guess it wasn’t.

We got past that mess and the roads were fine again. We started looking for other taxis, but we couldn’t find any. We noticed a guy driving a scooter with a cab on back big enough for about 2 people and got in. $2 to get to the center. We had to sit on each other’s laps but we managed to squeeze in and the driver hit the gas.

And then we realized this was an electric scooter, capable of about 4 mph…going downhill. 0 to 4 took about 20 seconds and even at cruising speed we were being passed by old women on bicycles. When we did hit a hill of maybe .0005% grade the scooter slowed to almost walking speed. We managed to get to the Breeding Center but that last 2 km took about 20 minutes.

We missed the feeding, but it did not matter. Again, the Lonely Planet was wrong but this time to our benefit and we found pandas playing outside with each other. You could spend about $100 USD and actually hold a baby panda while somebody takes pictures but that was out of our budget, not to mention maybe not the best thing for the panda so instead we spent about 3 hours just watching them. They looked and acted like a bunch of stoned men in panda suits falling all over each other.

Baby Panda Playing on the Bars

Baby Panda Playing on the Bars

Panda Laying Around

Panda Laying Around

As we watched the pandas, we heard the constant noise of a camera on auto. The guy next to us was taking literally thousands of pictures of the pandas! This went on for about an hour and I have no idea what he planned to do with all these pictures but it grew to be pretty annoying.


One Response

  1. Sooo cute!

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