Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wolong hospitality

I went to Wolong to get away from Chengdu, to do some easy hiking and to see the giant pandas. There are two types of pandas, red pandas and giant pandas. Giant pandas are the black and white type resembling bears but with a vegetarian diet (mostly prefering bamboo).

The Wolong Nature Reserve was the first created to help prevent extinction of the giant pandas which at that point in 1975 seemed imminent -- with about 145 giant pandas counted in a census at that time. Wolong Nature Reserve protects over 200,000 hectares (or almost 500,000 acres!) of forest and panda habitat. Lately, the panda population has enjoyed a resurgence thanks to the efforts of China and the international community in researching panda breeding in captivity, panda infant nutrition, etc. The most recent giant panda census in 2004 enumerated over 1600!!

I visited the Giant Panda Research Center and saw many, many of these docile, peace-loving creatures!


In Wolong, I experienced true Sichuan hospitality -- a big, warm, raucous evening gathering of hot pot (a Sichuan specialty) lots of toasts (only beer, thankfully, Chinese drinking contests are legendary) --followed by karaoke (of course! this is Asia after all!) -- the people were other travelers and myself being feted by several people we met in the one-street town of Wolong.



Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Chris. The photos of the pandas are great. We can only imagine how much more amazing it must have been to see them in person. Good luck on your pilgrimage. Stay warm!

9:41 PM  

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