Our top picks from Chengdu to Pingyao

Pandas and bubbles in Chengdu

 

img_2836 Scott and Ingrid both loved our visit to the Panda breeding centre in Chengdu. We arranged an early morning trip through our hostel, Mrs Panda to enjoy the view of pandas having breakfast without the the elbowing Chinese crowds. Our plan worked beautifully as we had cool, clear views of munching toddler and grown up pandas and crawling baby pandas when we arrived at 8.30.  By 10  o’clock most pandas were already asleep. By the  time the crowds were started to appear we were ready to go.

In the afternoon we went to explore the peoples park hoping there would be a playground for the kids, something we had not yet managed to find during our stay in China.

The peoples park was full of locals enjoying their Saturday afternoon, sipping tea, crunching sunflower seeds, playing cards and games. The kids park turned out to be a fairground with a few basic rides so we got a bubble wand instead and had fun showing the Chinese kids how to blow and pop bubbles Ledingham style.

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Surprising food and great sights in Xian

Rain was pouring down as we arrived in Xian after 16hr on the sleeper train from Chengdu. The afternoon was spent horizontally recovering from the train ordeal in DJMT hostel, situated close to the south gate in the old part go town. We braved the rain for a wonder round the muslim quarters early evening and enjoyed mutton skewers with noodles, or it might have been intestines, in a little eatery in the west part of this traditional part of the old town.

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Following morning we went hunting for breakfast. Ingrid spotted some beadlike muffins in the window of a little local place and we realised this could be our change to finally try the famous Chinese burgers for breakfast.

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After ordering the burgers as translated on the menu and receiving mutton dumpling soup, we learned never to trust translations in the menus. Next time we walked up and pointed to the food we wanted and had muffins with fried eggs to everyones satisfaction.

Terracotta Warriors

On our final day here we went to see the famous Terracotta Warriors. You get there in 1hr 15 by taking the 306 bus from the Xian train station. Traffic in Xian is quite bad so plan for 30 min to get to the bus from your hotel. We left at 7.30 and arrived before the crowds just after 9.

img_3196-1We marvelled at the sheer size of this site as we entered pit no3. This pit is the 2nd largest but in my opinion the best in terms of display and layout. You can even see the archaeologists working their way through the endless mounds of clay.

img_3200-1Pit 2 is the smallest followed by the vast pit No 1. This is where the famous images of thousands of lined up warriors come from. It is spectacular and had the children captivated.

One of the highlights here was the cinema showing an old film about the history of the 1st Emperor, the construction of the terracotta warriors and how they came to be under the earth in the 2 thousand years that followed and how they were found. For Scott this was great and helped him understand and visualise what we were seeing. He gave a detailed account of the story of the warriors to his teacher on Skype later.

img_4318The following weeks schoolwork set by Linda, the childrens teacher, was devised around this visit and they both loved it.

Our visit in Xian ended with a bike ride on the city wall at sunset followed by dinner the most amazing hotpot restaurant What a perfect ending to our time here.

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Pretty Pingyao

Pingyao, ancient city dating back 2700 years is  the best preserved walled city in China. A town with some 50 000 inhabitants, cobbled streets, traditional courtyard houses and no cars but unfortunately also full of shops selling trinkets to tourists.

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We enjoyed 2 days of wandering and eating our way through this beautiful city full of significant historical sights.

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An evening session of paper airplane building and throwing  with a couple of Chinese families was the top memory we will take with us from here.

Next and final stop Beijing!

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