Two buses took me to the Panda Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding for the low fare of 4 yuan and easy enough instructions, with a dose of common sense on my part to follow the crowds when I had to board the second bus. It is minor details like these that can derail an outing.
Arrived about an hour later to catch a glimpse of what was in store for me. Whoever said “Sally forth! Had not encountered the Chinese hordes intent on fitting in as much holiday pleasure as possible even if it kills them.
Once again everything was well managed. I felt rather like one of the damned being sent through one last maze oftorture at first. Then the line started snaking its way to the ticket booths at a fairly quick pace – I think I was in line no more than 15 minutes, bought my ticket, 58CNY is a steal.
The Panda Base is a non-profit facility, founded in 1987, has created a natural habitat for giant pandas. After paying and wending I was spat out the other end and into the maw of a beast writhing with humanity.
I kept reminding myself I made this decision knowing full well it would be busy. As usual there were silly women wearing ridiculous shoes and outfits. This was not a Sunday outing!
I carried my day bag supplied with plenty if water, a granola bar and a banana. Others brought full picnics, not by Canadian standards of a picnic, but ready for battening down if necessary.
I sallied forth on foot rather than take one of the open mini buses whose drivers announce their approach with a soft jingle of chimes. This was to encourage another level of maintaining quiet for the peace of the pandas.
Many signs reminded park attendees to refrain from loud noises, frightening or enticing the pandas, and no climbing into the enclosures. Parks personnel were quietly watching for any trouble.
Pandas are easy to find, just listen for thousands of oohs and ahs, search out everyone carefully rushing in that direction, then attempt to squeeze in to actually see what all the fuss is about. Pandas are indeed cute, and the Giant Pandas is a large, round, dirty white and black mass of cuteness.
They are also lethargic. To my knowledge pandas cannot be trained. Just imagine, ‘lie down’, what, oh nap time, okay! ‘Roll over’, good idea, must get more comfortable.
‘Look at the people’, naw, I will stayed rolled away from that bother and chew on my bamboo, thank you anyway. No cajoling by the writhing mass reaching for the depth and length of the relative sanctuary and comfort the pandas are in.
Arms extended, pleading, raised in strange apparatus supplication – ah yes, mobile phone selfie sticks – to capture a brief pose with a disinterested, distant panda. The first enclosure was a crush yet controlled – I can only assume not a single soul knew what torture was ahead – I certainly did not.
Cue the cuteness factor to entice the crowds further. I will post the remaining entry to the depths of craziness to pander another day.