Friday, 26 June 2009
18th June 2009 - 1:13pm
Today is going nicely so far and the sun is out and shining, which means that my socks I washed are finally dry!
Cleaning went fine today, you just get into a routine of it. We shut the pandas in their indoor enclosure, we remove all the excess bamboo branches, then poo, then the debris of the bamboo they have eaten. We then let the pandas out and lock them there so we can clean inside.
The inside of the cages is normally much easier to clean. The floor is marble and everything just slides off. Outside is a mixture of bumpy concrete and logs attached together making the broom hard to use.
Our new panda spent most of yesterday indoors by choice. She had urinated so much that the floor was covered in 2mm of pee. Combined with poo this makes a wonderful brown liquid. Took a lot of washing and sponging but nice when it got done.
I went to the internet in my break but the electricity was down, nice 30 minute walk nonetheless.
At feeding time our keeper has taught Neenee to open his mouth and catch small lumps of panda bread - great fun!
Played cards a bit, the keepers seem to find this great fun and always gather around when we play.
Just had lunch and then sat playing with the tiny puppy again. Think I might have to steal it.
We're all shattered today. The majority are having naps over lunch. So an early night tonight - after hot chocolate!
19th June 2009 - 10:51pm
Last night was good, after dinner we played some card golf and some charades - Ann and I seemed to be doing all the dodgy ones but all a great laugh.
Today wasn't an amazing start when I slept through my alarm and woke up at 7:18am, bearing in mind breakfast is at twenty past, however I did make it on time!
Cleaning out the cages was as normal, again the new panda Jun Juo had 2mm of pee in her cage. It turns out she actually just sits in her pond outside and so comes in soaking wet.
Sue and Elaine had both asked me to be their photographers for their playing with the pandas. First was Sue who was playing with the babies. Having got in I just took as many photos as I could (152 of them). At the same time one of the babies decided it preferred me so attached itself to my leg and just held on - very funny, and very cute!
Elaine then played with the adults and again took a lot of photos. As we left one of the adults grabbed my leg. Clearly the pandas like my leg.
This afternoone we took the group photo of our group and the keepers. After this the heavens opened, not sure I have ever seen rain like it. As it was the last night for most I decided to do a bit of an award type idea just as a bit of a joke and a laugh, the awards were as follows:
Most dedicated panda lover - Sue
Most dipsy and biggest worrier - Tasha
Most innovative - Ann
Most laid back and worst chopstick user - Elaine
Most Brave and outspoken - Claire
Most patient and slowest at getting ready - Amy
They each got a little certificate and small pressie related to pandas. Was a good laugh and everyone liked the idea.
After dinner we just chilled and chatted in one of the rooms. Been a great day. Seems funny to think the panda playing with Sue and Elaine was this morning. Ph and dinner was the best yet, beef and onions (my fav) and they brought out... Chinese Chips! You've never seen a dish go so fast!
The plan for tomorrow will be a well earny lie in, lunch, say goodbye to the others and more chilling.
20th June 2009 - 6:52pm
Well a bit of a lay in today until half nine. Ann came and got me at twenty to ten and we went down to the internet where we were then joined by the others.
Ann and Claire then wanted to have photos with the adult pandas, I was the photographer. Unlike playing with them you literally sit on a step for 20 seconds with a panda next to you and have your photo taken.
Before lunch we went to the kindergarten to watch the babies for a while. All of a sudden a coach load of 100 English people arrive, I think even we found it hard not to stare at them.
We then had the final lunch with the group. We helped them up to the car and said our goodbyes - very sad. We've all become quite close so a bit strange that there are only 4 of us left. Sure we will all remain in contact though. Tasha and I are apparently penpals - but fine with me!
For the afternoon we had decided to go to the zoo next door just to see some other animals other than pandas. So we caught the bus down and got our tickets. We then waited in line for the next bus - the sun was blazing so all caught the sun a bit.
The bus arrives and it begins all a bit like Jurassic Park as you pass through these electric metal gates. You go past a wolf enclosure about the size of my room which holds 2 wolves and 3 pups all with mange. Think this shows how the rest of the zoo was going to be like.
From there we went through a bear and tiger enclosure before being allowed off the bus to walk around the rest of the zoo. The first thing you come across is the "best aviary in Asia", which is a massive net enclosure you can walk around with pelicans, peacocks and pidgeons. Oh and it turns out Ann is petrified of pidgeons.
As we left the aviary we could hear music so followed it to a show ring so sat and watched. Big mistake! I have quite a strong stomach through my Amnesty International work but it's been a long time since I was so utterly repulsed.
At the beginning they had walking monkies and ones which could cycle which wasn't so bad. After that however they brought out these two bears - if you could call them that. They were walking on two legs with boxing gloves on and were forced to box and fight. In between "rounds" one of the keepers would then hit them. Another bear was forced to balance on a ball and if it fell off it got hit.
The next act was tigers (2 white ones included) and 2 lions which had to sit on chairs, jump over one another or walk in/on a massive hamster wheel. These amazing animals were all skin and bone and petrified - if they did anything wrong a metal bar landed on their backs, dealt by one of the keepers. None of us could watch anymore so we left.
All of the animals were kept in cages about the size of my room or bed, all made solely of concrete and plain.
The even more surreal bits were having an Alsation and Husky in a cage (both very underfed) and a dog with no front legs so it just lay in the same spot all day.
Wolves down a hole of about 10m, ostriches with no feathers, a guy tormenting a leopard with meat just out of its reach. Not sure I have ever been happier to leave anywhere so much. Amazing to see the contrast between the panda sanctuary and which is sheer luxury. Large enclosures for every panda etc. The two worlds couldn't be further apart. Really puts things in perspective.
Dinner was nice - arrived and laid out for 4 - rubs in that the others have left. Hope tomorrow will be nicer.
21st June 2009 - 9:22pm
Well last night ended up being a late finish - after midnight. The 4 of us just stayed up chatting and pretty much playing our own version of twister without a board or spinner on Ann's bed.
This morning slept til 9 before having a shower. Got more used to them now, better since I fixed it, still unnerving to have to straddle the hole in the ground though (the loo!)
After the shower I tidied my room as things had started to get scattered everywhere. Also as I now have a spare bed in the rooms it turns into a perfect clothes drier. Turn the electric blanket on, place clothes under the duvet and in an hour or two they are dry.
We then had lunch, lunch here is always more spicy than dinner, todays lunch was 3 veggie meals and a pork one, all nice but spicy, which when you're trying to cool your mouth with a tiny cup of hot tea is a challenge.
After lunch Ann, Claire and I went to find the t-shirt stand that sells the t-shirts we like, they don't have out size today so have to go back tomorrow - first time in my life I'll ever count as an XL.
The rest of the day had just been sat reading which has been great. Whilst I love to see as much as possible out days are long and hard work so a day of rest has been really nice. It's been really hot today until dinner when the heavens openeed in torrential rain. This evening has just been cards - which I won. Going to read some more now...
22nd June 2009 - 9:23pm
Today was an early wake up - aka 4:30am when the people next door to mine turned their tv on for 2 hours at full volume. It amazes me that some of the Chinese are really polite and others are amazingly inconsiderate.
I did manage to sleep half an hour from half 6 til 9 before having to get up for breakfast and work.
The meals today have been really disappointing. Breakfast they brought out boiled cabbage dumplings - I think they cottoned onto the fact we didn't like them and brought out plain ones. Lunch was 2 veggie dishes, a horrible gammon dish and some chicken. Dinner was looking to be just as bad when at the last minute they gave us beef and pepper dish we love.
Work was really hard today. We did Bugan and Jun Juo's cage as normal as we have our old keeper back but have a new third one called Lung Che whos enclosure is an absolute nightmare. We're used to doing 3 cages in an hour, today it took almost 2!
The weather has been the hottest since we got here which hasn't made things easier although has offered some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
This evening we have just chilled and played more cards. Going to read some more before going to bed. Finished my book earlier so onto a new one.
23rd June 2009 - 4:27pm
The people working here seem to have had a lie in this morning. We turned up for breakfast but the doors to the eating area were still shut. We got in ten minutes later than normal and were served cabbage noodles for breakfast. Whilst a most welcome change from the normal breakfast it was a bit odd having cabbage and spring onions for breakfast, plus noodles aren't very filling.
Having got to work we found out one of the main keepers called Mr. Woo (the only one who speaks English) had been in a car accident, he was fine but wouldn't be there to clean his enclosures. This meant cleaning out 5 encosures which certainly kept us busy.
Oh and when I said yesterday was hot, today was even hotter, lot of hard work and pleased to have finished!
There has been a base wide powercut since breakfast so no lights which has made the day interesting. However I think we all just experienced the worst side affect of the no power - having to brave an ice cold shower in the pitch black. Not an experience I'd like to repeat. Off into Ya'an tonight, I'll be taking my torch!
23rd June 2009 - 10:26pm
Well having just got the largest spider I have ever seen out of my room I can now relax. Just came in and there it was on my wall. I sprayed it with alcohol spray it ran along the wall, JUMPED off the wall and ran out the door - phew!
Ya'an was great. First stop was dinner where we ate like kings, ordered about 2 dishes each and still only came to 2 pounds 50 - the price of things here still staggers me. Whilst the food is amazing I won't miss the taste of MSG.
From there we went to get some photos of "our lady" developed. She owns a tiny shack next to our rooms and sells drinks - so sweet.
We then just went shopping again and got any final souvenirs we needed. Finished off stocking up on more supplies before coming back to the camp.
On the way back we had to dodge a tree that had fallen in the road - all very surreal with Shania Twain blaring out of the radio in the truck.
We came back to find the electricity on which is nice. Time to read a little before bed.
24th June 2009 - 9:37pm
Breakfast was unusual again today instead of congee we had egg fried rice with spring onion and smoked tofu - an interesting choice for half seven in the morning.
We had to clean the normal 3 cages today - Bugan's cage had a ridiculous amount of bamboo in it so took a little longer than his cage normally would.
We were then handed notebooks to do some behavioural research. We have to record what they are up to every 30 minutes and basically sit watching them. This does mean some more reading time - finished my book today. I'm following Jin Jao who doesn't eat and just lays there all day so not too much to record as yet.
The weather is getting hotter and hotter today and today was the first day where there was a noticeable difference where it affected the pandas. In the space of 3 weeks we have got to know the behaviour of our pandas well - today they all seemed off their food and very lethargic.
Their enclosures do have air conditioning however yet again there was a powercut until 8pm which makes life here more interesting. Going to the loo in a chinese style toilet in the dark is not much fun.
After dinner we were just taking some photos when the owner's 4 year old son came over and started playing with us and our cameras - very funny. Plus had our photos taken with a lot of bypassers.
25th June 2009 - 11:23pm
Today was the last full day here at the panda base. Everything as normal in the morning - breakfast, cleaning. Although the weather this morning was pouring rain - made cleaning the enclosures more interesting - wet poo, slippery logs. Ended up doing 4 enclosures.
Lunch was well earnt, brought out the chip dish again which we had last week, again it was gone within seconds. After lunch we had to weigh the pandas again. We also hosed down Bugan's cage, walls and floor - the colour of the water that came off was quite impressive.
After that we went back to recording what the pandas were up to as we had yesterday.
We had the final feed at 3:30pm - sad to leave, had an amazing 3 weeks! In week one I was wondering if it would be too long but the last week has gone scarily quickly.
For dinner we were joined by two amercians we met earlier. Very nice meal, new dish of salad leaves cooked in ginger which I think I polished off by myself.
After dinner we went on a short walk before I came back to pack most of my stuff. We then just played cards and Claire suffered having her eyebrows plucked by Ann.
Made our famous hot chocolate again. Finished yet another book today, 3 in 3 days. Short entry today as shattered.
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Monday, 22 June 2009
Sorry it's taken so long to write up the blog the internet has been down for the last few days and only just come back on again. Only got 15 minutes so have to write some now and some later, sorry about this, shows how remote we are.
17th June 2009 - 5:09pm
Wow! What an interesting day. Started off as normal with the breakfast and cage cleaning, pretty much all normal til lunch.
Tasha had played with the pandas so I was the person she elected to be her photographer whichw as great, so nice to see the pandas up close without the bars. Sure we clean their cages and enclosures each day and feed them but there are always bars in the way so good to see them uninhibited.
Tasha and I came back before the others and had a chance to play with the sweetest puppy that runs around the base - so cute! Also very light to hold - reminds me of what scamp was like as a pup.
The others came back and it turns out a bit of an arguement had arisen between two of the group which escalated later in the day, but won't write that on the blog, wasn't involved woo!
Lunch was great, 2 of my favorite dishes came out, peanut chicken and bak choi. After the vegetarian meal I seem to have a reputation for devoring bak choi - although it comes with these small peppercorn type spices that we all hate with a passion so it has become quite an art form for us to pick these out first and seeing peoples faces when they miss one.
After heading back it was feeding time for the pandas. One of our pandas - WougWoug has been moved to a new area as she was bred recently and might be pregnant so we have a new one.
NeeNee was as hungry as ever and Sui Ye was being as stubborn as normal and refusing to come whilst the new panda didn't eat her panda bread.
17th June 2009 - 11:18pm
Yet again Ya'an was a fantastic night. We went down at half five so arrived about 6 and went to get some dinner.
We went to the same restaurant as before as we knew the food was good. As per normal the food was amazing. We had ordered duck in which a whole duck, head attached came out, although no pancakes.
After dinner we went back to bridge from last week and spent about 2 hours there buying some souvenirs. I bought the chinese kettle I wanted, getting it home without breaking it might be interesting though!
We had a tea taster of some jasmine tea which was nice. Went into one tea shop which sold higher quality tea, and whilst in China it is normal to barter it is unusual for the staff to do it for you. The guy who serves me was arguing with his boss - ten seconds later he has knocked 1.20 off for me.
Next stop was the supermarket. Ann and I have been non-stop eating yet still losing weight, it's turned into a bit of a group joke, did mean we had to stock up on supplies. We also both had a desperate urge for hot chocolate which they didn't sell so we improvised. We bough some chocolate, milk powder and marshmallows.
As soon as we got back we broke up the chocolate into the cups and melted it with boiling water. We tested mine with milk powder but that was unbearably sweet so we just stuck to hot water - everyone else thought it would fail but we proved them wrong - tasted amazing!
Right really need to whizz back to work but will either try and get up to date tonight or tomorrow.
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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Today Amy and I had a different keeper as ours has gone on holiday for 4 days. Therefore different enclosures to clean and different pandas to feed. It's amazing to see how animals vary so much in their personalities.
For instance our old pandas were Bugan and WougWoug. Bugan was the male and ate at a rate of knots, whereas WougWoug was much more laid back. The new pandas are Neenee (male) and Sui Ye (female), the male is quite energetic whereas Sui Ye doesn't really respond to being called, eats mega slowly and kept going off into daydreams so we had to clap to bring her back to her food.
Other than that the major activities of the day were to weigh each panda by coercing it with food onto a large metal scale. Scary to think they weigh more than double me.
Spent the evening playing bullshit with 2 packs of cards which makes it impossible - although I was 3rd. After 20 minutes the 3 of us who were already finished played a whole game of card golf (9 rounds, hence the name).
We realised that some of us knew more than others about each other so over dinner we each told our life stories in the space of two minutes each which was interesting.
Been absolutely pouring down tonight so hopefully bright in the morning - I need my socks to dry after washing them yesterday!
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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Well this might be quite a long blog due to the fact I just haven't had a free second to write it since yesterday morning.
Yesterday was another fantastic day. We had an early start, leaving the hotel at 7:15am. We wandered around for a little bit before finding the bus station. We then caught the 2 hour bus up to the top of Emei mountain which was certainly a very windy and bumpy journey.
Having got to the top it was actually quite cold so they had this place that rents jackets which we did - mine seemed to be sized very very large.
From the coach station it was then a walk up lots of steps - this made the rented coats irrelevant as the walking made us boiling. The did have guys with deck chairs on sticks to carry people up and down.
At the top of the steps was the gondola we needed to catch to even higher up the mountain. The ticket kiosk was just a free for all, people pushing and shoving. Elaine somehow managed to make it to the front and get the tickets.
The gondola was thankfully over very quickly as they just rammed as many people as possible in, reminded me of the London Underground.
At the top of the gondola we sat on a bench for a few minutes where a random lady just plonked her baby down on Tasha's lap without asking and then took photos - very odd! She then went on to get the baby to kiss us all on the cheek (by the way... pongy baby!).
I'm starting to get the feeling of being a celebrity in the way people photograph you without asking or following you around. There was a tour group where we seemed to be the main attraction and not the summit.
After a lot more stairs we came to the summit where there is a massive golden buddha statue, and whilst very foggy the views were still breathtaking and well worth the visit and the trip to the top.
There was a viewing platform with a railing, although some people had gone round it and were standing on the edge of a sheer drop. One family had a baby which nearly ran off the edge, none of us could bare to watch,
From there we slowly made our way down again. The bus was even bumpier, and being on the back row we all felt quite queasy.
Having got to the bottom we jumped into a taxi to take us to Leshan so we could get the bus back to Ya'an. However by the time he found someone to translate what we wanted we had missed the last bus back.
So we decided to try another tactic and get the bus to Chengdu and go from there to Ya'an, so on a bus we hopped. 2 hour journey with an agonisingly loud Chinese programme on the tv.
Having arrived in Chengdu we again found the last bus to Ya'an was full! However a taxi tout overheard and was like "I can get someone to take you there for 26 pounds" - bearing in minsd this is a 2 and a half hour journey, so we hopped in.
After about 10 minutes the taxi pulled over and got out to talk to some of his mates and seemed to be unhappy about taking us. In the end one of his mates took us, so out we got and piled into the next car.
After about a minute the film music for 20th Century films started so Tasha in a jokingly way was like "wow, are we going to watch a film?" - he flipped down the passenger sun visor and there was a built in DVD player so we watched Transporter 2. Very surreal paying 30 pounds (we gave him extra) for a 2 and a half hour journey with a DVD player in the sun visor.
He dropped us off fine so all was fantastic. Having not had dinner on the Saturday, breakfast or lunch on the Sunday we were all starving. Most of the places to eat however seemed shut. In the end we went back to the one we went to the other night who seemed to be clearing up but were however happy to serve us.
We then caught another taxi back to the panda base, and caught up with those who has stayed behind to let them know we were all okay - so a long day!
Today has been a pretty normal day, breakfast and cleaning as normal. Then we had extra cleaning to do of the roof as VIPs were coming. Something very ironic about me cleaning out cages for Chinese government officials.
In our breaks we just played cards again and finished quite early today. After dinner we had a walk down to the kindergarten to watch the baby pandas sleeping.
To round off the night Sue taught us a great new card game called Golf. Feeling a lot better, by the end of last week the panda work was getting a little monotonous but the fantastic and adventurous weekend has made me feel much much better.
So much for an early night...
By the way can someone email me and let me know my blogs are still getting up?
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Monday, 15 June 2009
Today started off as a bit of a rush as the alarm didn't go off, so we had a 5 minute scramble from waking up to breakfast time but we made it so it's fine.
The routine was as yesterday - starting off cleaning out the cages and enclosures before feeding them a bit.
Dima and Sue had paid to play with the pandas so we wnt and watched. They had to wear blue overalls and spent 5 minutes stroking and playing with them.
Where they were staying to do this was half an hous walk away so by the time we got back to the enclosures our keepers had gone which meant a further 15 minute walk to lunch - we're going to be very fit by the end of the holiday.
After lunch we had to carry some bamboo up the hill, a lot of hard work. We then fed the pandas as normal. Amy and I had to feed the female whilst 5 keepers were checking to see if she was bleeding from menstration yet, poor panda has all these people oggling over her.
We finished earlier than normal so I braved the shower. It's a tiny drizzle so you have to wedge yourself right into the corner - bearing in mind the shower is right over the loo so you have to be careful not to fall in. But amazing to feel clean.
Plan for tonight is an early dinner and card games as it's Dima's last night.
12th June 2009 - 11:17pm
Today started off better than yesterday in the fact the alarm actually worked so not much of a rush to get ready.
Today was the normal (well normal considering we've been here 3 days) of breakfast, then walking to the research centre, cleaning out enclosures of bamboo and poo.
We then had an hours break so Amy and I walked to the office so that she could check her emails. On the way back we passed a small snake slithering across our path.
We fed the male some apple today, hard to know where to place your fingers so that they don't accidentally get removed as they bite it.
Again another hour and a half break before a further feed where we all played cards. Main game seems to be cheat - although here we call it "bullshit" just for more fun. I didn't seem to do too well today, mainly as I was the only person to willing to challenge people and shout it.
Having come back for lunch Elaine, Amy and I went to the Tibetan teahouse next door to where we are staying. The sign in English outside is hilarous and makes no sense (like most of their English signs) - I'll have to write it down soon.
Clearly no white people ever entered this place by the way we were stared and laughed at - we were clearly the butt of many jokes but in a nice way. As we were sitting there half of the tiles slid off the roof and smashed to add further excitement.
The guy who worked there was hilarious and kept wanting us to down boiling tea that tasted of Tixylix - mmm yummy not! He then sat nexrt to me and started gestering towards me, first little and tall type motions and then scissor type motions - not a clue what that meant!
After the afternon feeds the real fun kicked off, we walked to the other side of the park (30 minutes away!) to have our group photos with the pandas. We all had to put on the blue plastic overalls, over our boots as well, plus gloves before being marched in and having the photos. It was also the first chance I had to touch one, even if with gloves. Amazing to be so close to one without bars being in the way.
Dima left straight after to go home as he was only here for one week. So much has happened, it seems weird to think only a week tomorrow since I left home.
Tonight has been fantastic and a real laugh - plus another shower. More banter with card games and bullshit plus general gossip. Looks like tomorrow we might be off to see a giant buddha and buddhist mountain, fingers crossed!
15th June 2009 - 12:49am
Well as you can see from the time it's been a long day. We decided to have a lie in as we didn't have to work with the pandas today, so breakfast was at 9am which were noodles, first time we've had them since arriving in China.
As there are now only 2 boys we had to move rooms which is fine - although the shower just drips out when I tested it.
The plan was then to go to the Giant Buddha in Leshan. This meant getting the bus down to Ya'an then a 3 hour coach. According to the coach it was 36C outside and felt even warmer inside.
We arrived fine and got a taxi to the place where the Buddha is. At one point we saw tonnes of steep steps so Elaine and I said we'd run up them. Elaine got half way and I got all the way to the top before walking down. Only once I'd got to the bottomg did I find out the way to the Giant Buddha was at the top of these steps.
The walk to the Buddha was a permanent up in really hot and humid weather, although it was amazing. 4 of us had decided to stay over whilst the others headed back.
We walked to the bottom of the Buddha as the others caught their bus, it also involved an agonising walk to the top again, including being late for the park closing and having a securtiy guy help us find out way to the exit.
On leaving this random guy offered us a lift to Emei, which is where the mountain is and we wanted to go, conveniently he also knew a hotel.
The hotel is nice, twin room and sharing with Tasha - 6 pounds a night each! A proper warm shower and western loo!! - with paper!
After an amazing shower we were lead the way to a hot spa from a natural well. So the 4 of us bought new swim wear - me in speedo boxer things and went in.
Minus a scary changing room of peeping eyes at a white body this place was amazing. Boiling pools of natural water, outside, open til midnight - sheer bliss!
Early start tomorrow for mountain - 7am!
15th June 2009 - 9:33am
Haven't yet had time to write up yesterday as we got in too late and so much happened. But absolutely amazing weekend! Loved the exploring. Mad being in a country where you can't speak the language and people stare at you as if you're a celebrity but still briliant.
Also thanks for people who have been emailing, great to get them. Sorry I haven't had a chance til now to reply to them. Sorry if you've left blog comments too as I can't read them til I get back. Hope all's well back home.
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Thursday, 11 June 2009
9th June 2009 - 10:01pm
Today is one of those days where so much has happened you can't quite believe it has just been one day.
We had breaskfast - rice and warm orange squash again. Then we headed down to the coach station. 2 and a half hours later we were met by a minibus to take us to the panda sanctuary - let again the roads are truly petrifying.
We arrived at the sanctuary and it is really pretty, all very Tibetan in style. All the boys in the same room. They are basic rooms but not unpleasant with chinese style toilets and bizarre showers you have to plug in - doesn't seem very safe, electricity and water hmm...
We then had lunch before entering the sanctuary and saw our first panda! They are probably as large as I expected but nothing until you see them up close. We now have our own unoiforms which are rather fetching and very large. Along with that are gloves with the nice orange lining.
We then had a look at the baby panadas. Again amazingly cute, 4 of them in one enclosure. The keeper came and gave them milk and they all started fighting over it. One did a forward role over a wooden ledge and fell off.
Had a bit more of a tour before dinner and playing cards. Early start tomorrow as work starts at 8am and finish at 5:20pm.
10th June 2009 - 10:36pm
Well first day with the pandas! Breakfast was great - we had congee again, but unlike on the plane we had sugar which made it a lot more bearable, we also had dumplings which are really nice.
From there we walked to the base where we work and met our "master" - aka our keeper we are following for 3 weeks. I'm also paired with Amy who is also here for 3 weeks which is good as our keeper doesn't speak a word of English so just a matter of pointing.
Our first job was to clean our their enclosures. Amy and I had one each, it is just a matter of getting rid of all the excess bamboo they haven't eaten, sweeping up and picking up endless amounts of faeces. My panda is in oestrus so hardly eating and a wonderful upset stomach so not amazingly pleasant.
We then cleaned up their indoor cages before having a bit of free time. We then went and fed the male panda some carrots before having lunch ourselves.
After lunch we went back and fed the panda (they get fed up to 6 times a day!). Then as the female panda is in oestrus she had to moved cage ready for potential mating. Amy and I could hardly carry the transport cage empty yet after the panda was in the cage these two scrawny men were able to carry it.
She was placed into one of the male enclosures with the male still inside just to get her scent around, then she was placed in the enclosure alongside and the male released into his so that they could see each other. The female did a weird side to side dance standing up against the wall.
After that our time was free so amy and I went and had a look at the kindergarten and the baby pandas - so sweet! All tumbling around and playing.
Instead of having dinner at the hostel we had arranged to go to the nearest ciry - Ya'an, about 30 minutes away (the taxi cost us 2 pounds each way!!). We arrived just about in one piece. Form there a few people needed memory cards for their cameras so we went to a kiosk where you order what you want and in about ten minutes a guy on a moped brings it along - weird type of Argos.
Ya'an city has the most amazing bridge with shops on so we had a look around there before going for dinner in a very crowded restaurant. I know I've mentioned before about being stared at but it was the worst today - everyone we passed suddenly dropped their jaws.
After dinner we went back to the bridge and shops where my apparent love of tea came out. I bought an amazing hand made tea pot that looks like it's made from wood with a little lizard on top. I also bought some local first flush green tea.
Dima bought a "firework" which he was going to fire off the bridge but clearly got conned as it turned out to be a massive party popper full of streamers.
I also tried chicken's tongue - certainly an interesting snack and held a baby terapine in my hand at a pet store before coming back.
More cleaning cages tomorrow...
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9th June 2009 - 10:01pm
Today is one of those days where so much has happened you can't quite
believe it has just been one day.
We had breaskfast - rice and warm orange squash again. Then we headed
down to the coach station. 2 and a half hours later we were met by a
minibus to take us to the panda sanctuary - let again the roads are
We arrived at the sanctuary and it is really pretty, all very Tibetan
in style. All the boys in the same room. They are basic rooms but not
unpleasant with chinese style toilets and bizarre showers you have to
plug in - doesn't seem very safe, electricity and water hmm...
We then had lunch before entering the sanctuary and saw our first
panda! They are probably as large as I expected but nothing until you
see them up close. We now have our own unoiforms which are rather
fetching and very large. Along with that are gloves with the nice
We then had a look at the baby panadas. Again amazingly cute, 4 of
them in one enclosure. The keeper came and gave them milk and they all
started fighting over it. One did a forward role over a wooden ledge
and fell off.
Had a bit more of a tour before dinner and playing cards. Early start
tomorrow as work starts at 8am and finish at 5:20pm.
10th June 2009 - 10:36pm
Well first day with the pandas! Breakfast was great - we had congee
again, but unlike on the plane we had sugar which made it a lot more
bearable, we also had dumplings which are really nice.
From there we walked to the base where we work and met our "master" -
aka our keeper we are following for 3 weeks. I'm also paired with Amy
who is also here for 3 weeks which is good as our keeper doesn't speak
a word of English so just a matter of pointing.
Our first job was to clean our their enclosures. Amy and I had one
each, it is just a matter of getting rid of all the excess bamboo they
haven't eaten, sweeping up and picking up endless amounts of faeces.
My panda is in oestrus so hardly eating and a wonderful upset stomach
so not amazingly pleasant.
We then cleaned up their indoor cages before having a bit of free
time. We then went and fed the male panda some carrots before having
After lunch we went back and fed the panda (they get fed up to 6 times
a day!). Then as the female panda is in oestrus she had to moved cage
ready for potential mating. Amy and I could hardly carry the transport
cage empty yet after the panda was in the cage these two scrawny men
were able to carry it.
She was placed into one of the male enclosures with the male still
inside just to get her scent around, then she was placed in the
enclosure alongside and the male released into his so that they could
see each other. The female did a weird side to side dance standing up
against the wall.
After that our time was free so amy and I went and had a look at the
kindergarten and the baby pandas - so sweet! All tumbling around and
Instead of having dinner at the hostel we had arranged to go to the
nearest ciry - Ya'an, about 30 minutes away (the taxi cost us 2 pounds
each way!!). We arrived just about in one piece. Form there a few
people needed memory cards for their cameras so we went to a kiosk
where you order what you want and in about ten minutes a guy on a
moped brings it along - weird type of Argos.
Ya'an city has the most amazing bridge with shops on so we had a look
around there before going for dinner in a very crowded restaurant. I
know I've mentioned before about being stared at but it was the worst
today - everyone we passed suddenly dropped their jaws.
After dinner we went back to the bridge and shops where my apparent
love of tea came out. I bought an amazing hand made tea pot that looks
like it's made from wood with a little lizard on top. I also bought
some local first flush green tea.
Dima bought a "firework" which he was going to fire off the bridge but
clearly got conned as it turned out to be a massive party popper full
I also tried chicken's tongue - certainly an interesting snack and
held a baby terapine in my hand at a pet store before coming back.
More cleaning cages tomorrow...