Pandas 🐼 and China conclusion, Days 317-320
We really like Chengdu. It is a living city. Everywhere bicycles can be borrowed. Ping Pong and Karaoke is played in the parks.
Together with the other cyclers Guy, Kamilla, Coco and Violette, Judith visits the world-famous breeding station of the pandas 🐼 in Chengdu. In an incubator, we admire the small, helpless creature, which then grows up to these relatively large, thick, heartfelt pandas 🐼.
Surprisingly, there is no suitcase wrapping machine at the airport in Chengdu. This confirmed Justin, who works at the airport. He kindly organises bubble wrap film for us, in which we pack our bikes. On Friday morning Justin accompanies us to the airport. At check in we experience again the strict Chinese controls. Our luggage is scanned several times. At the stopover in Zhengzhou, we are stopped in front of the passport control because we do not have a blue ticket like the other passengers. Only now we understand, that we should have taken this when leaving the airplane. Once again, the Chinese do not know, what to do with us. After several phone calls then the responsible person is summoned and we also get this card. Again, we are not informed when the boarding or when the departure is. Even when we wait an entire hour for departure, there is no information. The people here seem to be used to having someone think for them and waiting for the next orders.
China is an incredibly exciting and adventurous travel destination. Unfortunately, our one-month visa, with a two-month extension, was far too short to travel the big country. But already with the two provinces Yunnan and Sichuan we got to know two different and scenic areas. We were especially pleased that we were able to discover something of the very warm Tibetan culture. Culinary China offers an unimaginable, large selection. Picturesque with the high mountains and the rice terrace it is a natural paradise! However, as far as the administration is concerned, it is energy-consuming and a test of patience. Luckily we applied for our visa in Vientiane, Laos and not in Hannoi, Vietnam. Several cyclers told us that they camped in front of the consulate for four nights to keep their place in the queue. The visa is really a problem, it determines and makes a trip to China extremely difficult! It is generally difficult to get information, such as which areas are closed, what visa extension documents are needed, and what are the condition of the roads. The regulations change very quickly and are implemented according to the mood of the officials. So we learned several times that we were sent away by a bus, sim card store or hotel with a “may yo” (does not work, does not exist). People are usually very friendly, although communication is a big challenge. Never have we learned so little of the language as here in China. This has to do with people speaking Tibetan in some of the areas we have traveled to and Chinese being very difficult to learn.
The sometimes very ruthless behavior towards the people, animals and nature has frightened and saddened us several times. For example, animals are kept in the smallest cages, artificial terraces built in national parks, lavishly ordered and not eaten food or ruthless honking and overtaking on the street.
We are glad that now slurping, spitting and honking will come to an end!