14th, 15th, 20th-22nd August 2004.

We hubbed in and out of Chengdu after flying from Beijing.  We had timed our trip in the Chinese holidays which meant that all trains were full and there was no way the snotty train ticket sellers were going to let us have a ticket.

Chengdu is lovely, a place to see Pandas, Sichuan opera and to sit and relax in tea houses in the beautiful parks.

It was also the place to see in Jason's 33rd birthday.  He had the fortune to take out three women for the night. (The very lovely Honey and Julie from Germany).

Keren and Nedesh also joined us for a beer or two, they also accompanied Jason on the walk home.  He was a tad leery at this stage so kept them amused.

Chengdu is home to the Panda reserve.  It is breeding Giant Pandas like this one, with the hope of releasing them into the wild in the future. These very fluffy bears are just so cute.

There are also red pandas which are much smaller and a little camera shy as they aren't to lazy to move.

Chengdu is home to Sichuan opera. It wasn't half as good as what we expected (maybe the aerobics of Beijing set our expectations too high) but we had a nice evening.

We were served tea on the balcony which us posh types had to ourselves.

Birthday boy got silly presents including this face mask that he used for practising his face changing which is the speciality of the Sichuan Opera.

Chengdu has lots of parks and tea houses, it is very pretty and proved a nice place to walk quickly between toilets while we waited for the constitution of our excrement to improve.

In one park / temple we watched in horror as this man throws a turtle into the water.  Some of these people have no idea.

The kids don't seem to wear nappies, instead lots of the kids have holes in their trousers that enable them to pee or shit anywhere. They don't grow out of the habit in later life either judging from the muck around.

We were walking to breakfast one morning and came across this dog floating down the river.  Yuk.

From Chengdu we hubbed in and out to visit Jiuzhaigou, and Songpan, in the North and Leshan, and Emei Shan, in the South. Other plans to go to Tibet fell apart due to the trouble in Nepal. Incidentally why would you call your rebel group the Maoists? If you wanted to be on to a real winner why not call your terror group "The Nixons", or "The Hitlers", or "The Moussolinis" after other stand-up guys from our time?
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