...on to more cities and a trip down the Yangtze...

Now we are in Chengdu, and if I remember correctly, I think this lunch was at the airport.  Well, it was somewhere at least and it was lots of food again.

This was the city in Chengdu.

Yep, this is a department store.

The main highlight of Chengdu is their Panda research facility.  Recently I was watching an educational program on pandas and as it seemed this facility was destroyed in an earthquake, and the facility I went to was after this and so it was the restored and I think moved version.  Most pandas if not all were rescued during the earthquake.  Here is a decent sized panda.

What was interesting to learn was that they were originally not herbivores, but they actually ate meat.  Then through evolution and food availability they migrated into a diet of bamboo.  I never went back to check facts and all written things there were in Chinese, but the guide did tell us that.  This is why they have sharp teeth, and trust me they have some massive nails to.  The are wirey or like a bristle brush, not soft.  That is right, I sat down with this little guy, yes he is little, and pet him.  I only have this picture of one of the trip arrangers with the panda, but you can see the size of this one.  He is eating an apple as a distration since som many people would sit with him and there were lots of pictures being taken.  We had to wear gloves and booties over our shoes to protect the panda from anything we might be carrying.

On from the cute...to the down right gross.  I won't lie, this is one of the worst we saw there.  The bus driver gave it a 2-3 out of 5 starts.  But this is a version of the squatty potty.  Many places have Western toilets, but you can tell some Chinese women are not comfortable with these as there were foot prints (shoe prints really) on the Western toilets seats as they tried to use it like a squatty potty.  I liked the squatties with a bar to hold onto best so you didn't fall anywhere.  Trust me, after a few days you get really used to this.

This was the Tang Dynasty dinner show.  The performance was amazing and told the story of the dynasty.

We had this awesome sign that dropped down mid performance...see any errors?  It was the thought that counts and this was so thoughtful.

The dessert at the show.  Dessert most often was watermelon.  When the watermelon came to the table you knew they would stop bringing regular food out and the meal was ending.

Next up was another cool stop on the itinerary.  These 2 photos are of the Dazu Stone Sculptures, AKA rock carvings:

The steep hillsides of the Dazu area contain an exceptional series of rock carvings dating from the 9th to the 13th century. They are remarkable for their aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during this period. They provide outstanding evidence of the harmonious synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

Can you believe these were all carved out of the stone?

On to another meal...


You can see a tofu dish here.  Often it was served in something seemingly gelatinous, but it was like thickened cornstarch.

This restaurant was also famous for it's tea pouring ceremony, so these few pictures are of this.


Now on to another hospital visit.  This time we are in Chongqing.  This room is for compounding herbals for the pharmacy.  I must say it stunk in here with all the herbals being boiled and mixed.

Here is the kitchen for their food service.  We did actually see patient rooms and watch their meal service.  Nothing at all like a US hospital.  All rooms had 4 beds and meals were often brought by family, however they did pass rice and veggies.  There were not many specialized diets like we have in hospitals in the US.  We even toured a dialysis center and the patients were mostly eating things not allowed on the renal diet.  It was very shocking to see the differences.  Well anyway, here is their kitchen.

Chongqing was the place to be for "DVDs" and "CDs" if you know what I mean!  Our last night there we went to a hot pot restaurant.  I passed since the meat was all cooked together in the broth and no one wanted to skip the meat, so I had a nice can of tuna with crackers.  There were some sides I was able to munch on.  If you are not familiar with hot pot, you get your stuff, meat and veggies and whatever, from a salad bar type set up and then bring it back to the table and toss it in boiling broth, and then remove your food and eat it.

From Chongqing we got on the cruise (a small one) to head down the Yangtze River:
Rising in the Tanggula Mountains in west-central China, it flows southeast before turning northeast and then generally east across south-central and east-central China to the East China Sea near Shanghai. It is known as the Jinsha in its upper course. It is the world’s third longest river, 3,915 mi (6,300 km) long. Its chief tributaries are the Yalong, Min, Jialing, Han, and Wu rivers. Several large cities, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, and Chongqing, lie in the river’s basin, which is known as the granary of China.

The following are pictures of heading down the river.

We did some off boat excusions while on the river.  One was visiting Fengdu, the Ghost City.  I wish I had a pic or two, but I don't on this computer.  This was, as we were told, to be destroyed once the Three Gorges River Dam was completed as the water would rise up over this.  They moved all people off from this bank of the river and placed them on the other side in new homes and villages.  Here is some information about Fendgu:
When traveling the Three Gorges of Yangtze River, if you start from Chongqing, then the first scenic spot you encounter is Fengdu - a ghost town between county of Zhong and Peling. It is a little graceful town lying at the foothill of the mountains and right by the river.


There are 75 Buddha and Tao temples in the town of Fengdu, most of them gathered on a famous hill named Ming Mountain.
 
Legends said that Ming Mountain is one of the 72 graveyards for Taoism. Tao believes when people die, their spirits will gather there (also called "spirit world"). All the temples on the hill were built at Western Jin period (265 ~ 420A.D.) and rebuilt in Ming and Ch'ing Dynasty (1386 ~ 1911A.D.).

Fengdu is the only ghost city in China. The temples are all over the mountain with many statues. In the "spirit world", there are series of super beings in the temples. They all have its own responsibility, they guard the spirit world.
 
The days, from March 3 to 15th of the lunar month, are Fengdu peoples' lively temple fair days. During the days, there will be a lot of interesting "spirit shows" in the streets attracting many tourists and believers.

Fengdu has a great country forest park "Shuang Gui Shan"; Guiwang stone carving, one of the fineness in the world; this place has the most Han tombs (old graves from 206B.C. ~ 219A.D.) in China. Therefore, when you traveling the Three Gorges of Yangtze River, Fengdu is a place you do not want to ignore.

It is also said that Fengdu gained its reputation from two super beings - Wang Fangping and Yin Changsheng. They all lived at Han Dynasty (206B.C. ~ 219A.D.) and became super beings one day in Pingdushan of Fengdu.

Their magic stories attracted many believers. They merged their families names, - Yin Wang, it means the "ruler of hell". Therefore, in peoples' mind, Fengdu became a mystical and terrible place of spirits. Li Bai, the great poet of Tang Dynasty wrote this in his poem: "it is interesting that all the people will be a citizen of Fengdu one day".

Next up was a pea pod boat ride tour.  Here I am (to the right, well her left) and I think I must have been mid talk or something because I look like my eyes are half closed and I could be moving my lips!  Oh well, so much for looking good in the pictures I do have of myself on this trip.

These guys pull the pea pod.


 Here are more pictures heading down the river.  In most places the river is brown.  It is not dirty (entirely) it is muddy, and the river moves very rapidly.  I think that is why they dammed it up and will use it for energy.





Here we are with all the other boats in the locks at the dam.

They tried to entertain us as much as possible on the ship.  I want to say we were there for 3 nights.  They put on nightly shows.

When we got off the ship in Wuhan we enjoyed a meal on dry land.  My favorite treat were those steamed bread rolls you can see in the middle just in front of the bowl of soup.  These were most often dipped in sweetened condensed milk.

I have this marked in my photos as abalone.


Well, thanks for your continued reading of my journey.  Tomorrow I will have my final China post, which will include Shanghai, so if you have any other questions, let me know.

QUESTION:  What is your favorite Chinese food?


11 comments:

Mer said...

chicken, eggplant and garlic sauce. i know that's totally "American" Chinese food, but it's good :)

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

What an amazing trip!

Favorite Chinese food: I love dim sum, especially sticky rice wrapped in leaves.

MelissaNibbles said...

The panda is adorable.
Fun trip :)

Melissa said...

When I was younger, I reallly wanted a panda for a pet. So cute. Getting to sit with a panda is on my "Life List"

Astra Libris said...

Melinda, your photos are incredible!! Such an amazing life experience! The panda is absolutely adorable - SO cool that you got to pet him! :-) (or her? :-) All the meals look fabulous, too, and those sticky rolls sound scrumptious! :-) I would be soooo psyched about having watermelon every day, too... :-)

Thank you so much for your incredibly kind words about my hip injury... You're the sweetest! :-) I had an MRI yesterday and I'll get the results tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes... :-p Thank you again for being so thoughtful! :-)

Gina said...

Very interesting. So, they don't limit their sodium and potassium while on dialysis? I wonder what the statistics show as far as their death rate and longevity living on dialysis. I'd be curious to find out.
From your comment on my blog I am wondering what MORE you want to do with your life, in terms of traveling and experiences. You are so well traveled compared to me, and I think you are so lucky (I'm sure you know this). I want to travel the world before I have kids, but I know that's not likely. Even to have been to half as many places as you would be enough! You've seen so many unique cultures and that will really help you in years to come as an RD.

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful pictures. That panda is too cute. I did not know they weren't always herbivores, guess you learn something new everyday.
I love noodles or lo mein. Soo yummy

Rahim said...

That squatty potty looks Crazy! My friend went to Japan a few years ago and she said that the toilets over there sit really low as well. I've read in some places however that the lower the toilet sits, the better it is for your bowel movement because the squatting position helps excrement move smoother.

FoodFitnessFreshair said...

Great trip! Looks like you've been experiencing some amazing feasts! I loveee chinese broccoli. I'm not a fan of much Americanized Chinese food because it all sits too heavy for me. And yes, I got you package...I'm pretty sure I thanked you for it about a month ago. It was great!

*Naomi* said...

great pics!!! I love going along for the journey with you! what I order at a chinese restaurnt is boring old steamed chicken and veggies with oyster sauce, sadly its not one of my favorite cuisines, but I still enjoy the fortune cookies :)

Nicole, RD said...

Pandas ate meat?! Learn something new every day! I continue to be jealous of your travels!! The food, the scenery, the culture...ahhh! :)

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