As I suddenly woke up from a nap, I heard the pilot announce over the intercom: “We will be landing in Chengdu in about 15 minutes.” At this point I noticed the young girl sitting across from me who I learned was flying back home on holiday from London where she attends university. After chatting with her for a couple minutes, I obtained a ride to my friend Stephen (who I knew from California) and a quick lunch in the city. One of the most spectacular things about China is how cheap everything is. The father of my new Chinese friend was able to purchase lunch for the five of us for about £8. Besides the local areas in Chengdu, I was supposed to see the Panda bears as well as travel to Chong Qing where my other friend from California lived.
While walking through the Giant Panda Research Facility, I could tell that this was a huge tourist attraction in China. My friend Stephen joked that the bears were treated better than humans and basically just slept the whole day. Because of this we left earlier in the morning in order to catch them while they were awake and active. As we approached them, I was fascinated at how silly and amusing they were while tumbling around, sitting in weird positions, and eating their food. After leaving the park, we decided to eat lunch at this unique spot where the food is cooked in a brick stir-fry/stove. As we were doing this, we were invited to eat and drink with a group of locals. They were fascinated with my friend who could speak Mandarin fluently and all the girls kept pointing and saying “so handsome” to us guys as many of the had never seen a “foreigner” in person.
Chong Qing is a huge city with almost 33 million people and lots of hills and tall buildings. It was during my stay in this city that my other friend from California (Derrick) and I traveled about an hour outside the city to see these spectacular wall carvings and gardens. I seriously have seen nothing like this, and it was amazing to see how far back the culture goes. Overall, the whole trip was spectacular, and although I had an unforgettable time, it was nice to come back to a more westernized civilization where simple items such as bread or western toilets are readily available. Because of this trip, I can honestly say that my traveling experience during my postgraduate studies here at Aston University have been unreal and I am not sure anything could come close to the memories I am creating here.