Last week I had my first trip to Chengdu, China. This is the third biggest city of China with about 13.000.000 people, and the capitol of the Shezuan province.
The city itself is like many big Asian cities, and lacks the style and grandeur of the big European cities. It's a nice city though, with a relaxed atmosphere, friendly people, and everything seems to be well organised.
The first picture is of my daughter, that accompanied me on this trip, in the lobby of the excellent Sheraton Lido Chengdu Hotel.
This is the morning of our first day after arrival, and we are waiting for the rest of the crew to go on a trip outside of Chengdu.
We only fly to Chengdu for a few months now. Actually we are the first Western airline with a direct connection there.
All but one of us were there for the first time, and for that reason something very rare happened, the complete crew went on a trip together. Pity that doesn't happen more often.
Here are a few of those girls (and the second officer), that worked nearly continuously for about 11 hours the day before, most of it on their feet, climbing the stairs of Quingchéng Shan.
Quingchén Shan is a mountain about 65km from downtown Chengdu. It's not very high compared to the huge mountains and the Tibetan plateau to the West, but still fairly high at around 1600mtr, or about 1100mtr relative to the elevation of Chengdu.
It's the birth place of the Taoist religion, and several temples are to be found in a lush, sub tropical vegetation. These pictures are from a few ornaments, and the courtyard of one of the temples.
Very few foreign tourist are visiting this place, but all the more Chinese. Here are a few Chinese man, that seem to be relaxing. I'm not sure if these are visitors or workers.
Our lunch was typical Chinese, and let's say interesting.
Here's my daughter again, buying an ice cream from a nice Chines lady. Communicating is near impossible, so we couldn't ask what taste the nice green looking ice cream had. Turned out it was peas, and my daughter was less than pleased.
And walking through yet another temple.
After lunch we visited the Dujiang Irrigation Project. This big project was built an amazing 2200+ years ago, and served to regulate the water flow into the valley in which Chengdu lies. It made this part of China so fertile that it is referred to by the Chinese as 'Heaven's Granary'.
The picture shows the "Bottle Neck" the narrow stream to the left, that is meant to limit the flow of water to the valley. It was completely cut out the mountain by hand. Not having any metal tools, the Chinese used fire to heat the rock, then poured cold water over it, to break it, and carried it away by hand. To the right of the picture, you'll find a flat part that will overflow if the water rises too much, and will carry away the excessive water to the original river.
The bottle neck is only a relatively small part of the project, but unfortunately the weather was not very nice, so most shots of the irrigation works turned out to be hazy and flat. That's why there is only this one.
In the evening we went to a show. It had elements of most Chinese forms of theatrical art. Opera, marionettes, Chinese violin etc.
The second day it was an early rise again, since we wanted to visit the Panda breeding center in Chengdu. This is by far the biggest of it's kind in the world. And the only natural habitat for the Panda's is not far from Chengdu.
It's hardly amazing that these creatures are almost extinct, since they only eat young shoots of a certain kind of bamboo, and absolutely nothing else, and quite a lot of it too. They are very lazy, becoming nearly completely inactive if it's warm, and that includes any activity that might lead to children!
Still they are gorgeous to see, and it's great that the Chinese are succeeding in slowly increasing the very small Panda population.
Here's a picture of a new born panda. They are completely helpless for about 3 months, complicating the natural breeding of Panda's even more. This one is being taken care of by a human nurse. The picture was taken through two layers of glass with only little light, so it's not a great picture, but I wanted to show it to you anyhow.
In this little 'zoo' they also have a few 'red' panda's. Not really panda's if you ask me, but even so, they are very nice little animals, and lot more active then the 'real' panda.
There are certainly a few similarities between the Chinese and the Dutch. The ability to make money from trading with others comes to mind. But most obvious is the use of bicycles. You can still see all kind of transport bikes in the Netherlands. As a matter of fact, they are making a come-back, and it's not unusual to see a young mother transporting two or sometimes even more children on a bicycle specially designed for this purpose.
In China you see many kinds of bikes for transporting goods and/or people.
If you see the lady in this picture, please remember that the temperature is well over 30C with an almost 100% humidity.
And what do real Dutch do, when they see all those bicycles? Well they rent a few, and discover the city on the vehicle they use at home! I must say, that during our bike ride, we were the biggest attraction wherever we passed.