The capital of the Province of Sichuan – known for its spicy foods – is one of the smaller cities with a population of around 3.5 million. Chengdu is a city that loves to consume. Its inhabitants are said to prefer sitting in tea houses than to work. Plenty of bicycles exist, even if an increasing amount of cars dominate the streets cape.
Surely the most important site for western tourists is the panda breeding center which has a first class reputation worldwide, especially in research. Since panda females are able to conceive only one day per year and pandas would rather eat than think of procreation, it is extremely difficult to maintain a steady number of pandas or to increase the number of pandas that exist. Chengdu is able to show some very promising results in this field, however. Through DNA analyses it has been determined that couples only mate if they are genetically compatible. In 2003, 4 panda babies were born. Research also focuses on the panda diet. Since pandas really only eat bamboo, and bamboo is not available in the needed amounts, bamboo-flavored soy-based sticks have been developed. These are very popular with the pandas.
Currently there are 42 pandas living at the breeding center. Like all other mothers, panda females are very caring of their young, even if the method of raising them does not always bring about the desired results.
Since pandas do more than eat and sleep , it is always very amusing to watch the two youngsters. They are around 18 month old. Their motto seems to be: what can I be up to now?
The couple who should be looking after the young ones get on each others nerves after the last bamboo-flavored stick is eaten.
On the south shore of the Jin River, we find the River View Park. Here we find the more than 30 m high Chongli Pavilion which is especially attractive due to its unique ornaments. The park, which is a place of relaxation, is also a popular backdrop for traditional Chinese wedding pictures. The park is dedicated to the famous poet Xue Tao from the Tang Dynasty. 130 types of bamboo were planted in the park in her honor. The poet is said to have taken water from the fountain to make her paper.
A must-see for visitors to Chengdu is Du Fu’s straw hut. Du Fu was a postal official in Xian. Because of his poems that were critical of society, he was forced into exile to Chengdu, where he lived for three years. Here he wrote around 240 of his most important poems. For the Chinese, Du Fu is about as important as Goethe is to Germans. The look of the hut in which he was said to live changes its look every few years, however.
Chengdu is also famous for its brocade weaving. The oldest woven chairs will soon appear in their own museum.
Around 250 years ago, the Provincial Governor Li Bin ordered that the flow of the Min River be divided. The river often flooded the land. As a result, an irrigation system was created that supplied the entire Sichuan basin with water. Today, the system is used to irrigate 600,000 hectares of land. An replica of the original dam system can be seen today. The original has been replaced by a concrete structure. The dam complex also includes a very beautiful temple dedicated to the builder and his son. The entire complex is a world heritage site and is protected by UNESCO.
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