Chengdu People’s Park – 3 November

Before boarding the overnight train to Xi’an we had one last stop in Chengdu, the People’s Park. This is not the place for a quiet interlude, as our local guide ‘Chuck’ told us, people in Chengdu like it loud. Talk about wall of sound. As we entered the park you were confronted by multiple sound systems, several karaoke singers were belting it out next to the line dancers and many other styles of music were thrown in, well just because they could. In the midst of the mayhem we came across a group of older men who were calmly writing poems in water onto the paving, demonstrating their calligraphy skills.

The brushes they used were over a metre long and most carried their water in a plastic bag. The head of the brush was a good 20 cms long so their control over the brush was something to behold.
Apart from dancing, singing and playing chess and mahjong, people come to the park to advertise for partners for their children. There was, to our perspective, an embarrassing amount of detail provided including height, weight current salary and whether or not you had a car or an apartment. The second half of the page described in similar detail the type of person they were looking for. Did I mention there was also a flower display on as well!
It won’t surprise you that we were somewhat overwhelmed by all this activity so we decided to join the rest of the locals in one of the teahouses next to the ornamental lake (which you could row on or promenade around as the mood took you).
The Henming Teahouse has been operating since the 1920’s and has proven to be a popular watering hole since its establishment and looks likely to continue as such for years to come.


OK, sorry about the awful pun, but I couldn’t resist. Seeing pandas is one of the highlights of most trips to China. Panda central is now the Panda Base in Chengdu, after the previous centre in the countryside was largely destroyed by the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.
Thankfully it was a quiet day when we visited. Our guide told us that on public holidays 30,000 people will visit the centre in one day! The other good thing about visiting pandas, for sketchers that is, is that they tend not to move too quickly and also like to sleep a lot.


These two are older animals. The one at the top is demonstrating how to eat while lying on your back. The other has just crashed out.
The younger animals such as these ones are a bit more lively and enjoy playing with each other.
Whether this is a recent behavioral development isn’t clear to me as pandas in the wild are generally solitary and while giving birth to twins is common generally only one baby will survive in the wild.
If I thought I might escape the Panda Base with my resistance to the animal’s charisma intact but I was sadly mistaken. All it took were the 9 baby pandas which had been carried out to lie in the sun. Their gowned and gloved keepers brought them out and placed them on the grass where they slept on oblivious to the collective cooing and camera shots of the onlookers, me included. Soooo cute!