Ya’an City, China
Let me just start by saying that I absolutely LOVE giant pandas. This was the main reason that I decided to volunteer at the Giant Panda Center in China. When I was signing up, I thought I was going to spend most of my time cleaning up after the pandas. I’m not going to lie, there was some of that, but I never would have expected that I would get to hand feed these adorable creatures three times a day.
In between feedings, the best way to spend spare time was in the panda kindergarten. The cubs were so full of energy!
Other than working with the pandas, the best part of the trip was meeting new people from all over the world. I’d never left the United States before this trip, so getting to know people from all over Europe and Asia was tons of fun!
Chengdu is a beautiful city. There were lots of interesting places to visit and learn about. After we left the city, we stayed in the mountains of Bifengxia where the panda base was. The scenery was beautiful and there was plenty of time on the weekends to explore. I also got to check out a local ancient village which was beautiful and full of history. The open markets and tea houses were full of friendly people that were excited to see travelers.
I also hiked through the mountains near the panda base. There were huge waterfalls and a lot of signs explaining the history of what the area was used for. There were even coffins hanging on the side of the mountain that were thousands of years old!
Overall, this was the best experience of my life. I got to spend a lot of time with the most adorable animals. I got to become great friends with people from all over the world, some of whom I still keep in touch with. I got to learn a bit about China’s history and culture and explore some beautiful places in the process. Volunteering in China at the Giant Panda Center is a trip that is definitely worth taking!