Saturday, July 9, 2011

Central China: A flaming hot pot and the most adorable creatures you've ever seen. Welcome to Chengdu.

Prayer candles at the Aidao Nunnery.

Chantra checking out some offerings left by pilgrims at the Wenshu Monastery.

Just hangin out at the monastery.
I'm not sure if it's because the cities in central China are smaller or if the attitude is just different here because the locals in both Xi'an and Chengdu are noticeably nicer and more patient then the locals in Shanghai and Beijing.  It's quite a refreshing experience after having such a difficult time in North East China.  I mean people still rush around and cut you every chance they get but at least they're willing to try and help you out.  Either way Chengdu is a pretty nice place.  It's located in the heart of Sichuan province, home to the fiery, oily, and spicy Sichuan cuisine. 

The famous Chuan Chuan Sichuan Style Hot Pot.  Cook the skewers in the fiery broth, remove, and consume.  Pretty good although a bit oily.  But very economical at about 8 bucks for two people.

The Aidao Nunnery.

Chantra exploring the Aidao Nunnery.

More dumplings.  Not as good as Xiao Long Bao but pretty darn tasty.
 We didn't really have any idea of what to do here other than visit the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center so we spent a lot of our time just wandering the city.  We came across two places that were of note.  The first of which is the Aidao Nunnery.  An active working nunnery full bald female nuns.  It's located in an alley way just off one of the main streets.  It was serene and beautiful place where the nuns mostly go about their daily business and leave you to yours, which was nice.  They let us stay and explore the complex for as long as we wanted.  The other place that was really cool was the Wenshu Buddhist Temple.  It is one of the most active and best preserved temples in China.  It's an amazingly beautiful place of low burning candles, dark woods, and smoky rooms.  Like most Buddhist temples, the entire place smelled wonderfully of burning incense.  All they ask for is a 5 yuan donation which is less than a dollar.   

The central Pagoda at Wenshu Temple.
One of the Halls of Worship at Wenshu.

A beautiful courtyard in front of one of the many shrines at Wenshu.

The wifey learning about Chinese Buddhism. 

Finally after we tired of temple hunting we made our way to the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center.  Now this place is pretty cool.  They specialize in breeding and rearing Giant Pandas and Red Pandas.  So far they have a population of over 120 Giant Pandas, which is pretty good considering they started out with only a handful.  The bus ride was only 2 Yuan and the entry fee was only 58 yuan which is just under 10 bucks.  So with a little effort and time we were able to beat all the crowded tour groups to the research center and got to enjoy the panda's without having to deal with the giant crowds.  Man they're pretty cute too.  Just sitting and eating and enjoying life.  Well I'll let the pictures tell the story.
Come on seriously.  Look at that face!

I didn't know Panda's could climb tree's.

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