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  American Autumn Shishapangma Expedition 2005: In search of a panda in Chengdu


Sunset on Shishapangma from Base Camp

I made it into China! On the way in I declared my 80 lbs of food (which was actually 125 lbs) and the Motorola radios, but those were fine and they let me pass with no problems. Mr. Fuching met me at the airport, all ready with my name on a sign, and most importantly the good news that I will be able to fly to Lhasa tomorrow (and not have to wait in Chengdu for everyone else to arrive).

Chengdu is humid. The crossing lights at streets have three indicators: stop, a green pedestrian, and a green bicycle with a rotating wheel. It is a city of three million in the inner city, with over 9 million in the surrounding area. My friend tells me that those who work here do not have time for vacation. There are many concrete buildings, but not only concrete. Skyscrapers intermingle with small shops dedicated to selling pantyhose, snacks, or keys. The bike lane on the major streets is almost as wide as the car lane. In the 'people's park' there are birds that talk back to you (do rei me), ordinary people recording their 'MTV' song, friends rowing a boat in the small lake, community dancers learning new steps, and singers blaring their better (and louder) songs fifteen feet from the next group. 

Now I'm in search of a panda, but I'm not sure I'll find one today. I have seen them painted on many bicycles. I have seen them pictured on underwear. I saw a huge sign of the 'panda mall' with 20 ft tall letters 50 floors above me, but alas when I arrived here, it is still under construction (it is a two year project, as I learned from the nice woman who is letting me use the internet, and it will only be a mall then). I have even seen a panda on a packet of cigarettes (named 'Pride'). But as for the live ones, I think they're hiding in the hills.

-Val

Updates

 

 

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