Ya’an City, China
It’s amazing how quickly & densely memories can gather in a short span of time. I volunteered at the Giant Panda Conservation project in China for only 2 weeks, yet I went away feeling so filled to the brim with incredible memories and deep feelings.
Maybe it’s because I managed to somehow cram so many activities into that limited time frame. Indeed, being rather hyper, I couldn’t seem to sit around for an extended period of time just watching TV in the lounge room – I had to go out & explore!
My major scenic highlight was the jiuzhaigou. When my eyes detected the tour advertisements outside the hostel, I immediately rushed to the reception & babbled excitedly in broken Mandarin mixed with English. The lady behind the counter passed me several brochures with a suspicious look, for although I am evidently an Asian, I did not look like a local Chinese; in fact, I can even pass as a Japanese or a Korean – except that my passport says Australian. She mumbled warily that there’s a tour that leaves everyday for the valley, but it’s Chinese-speaking only.
I instantly jumped at it. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t read the Chinese itinerary, that I had no idea what the rest of the tour entailed and that I’d be the only foreigner on board the tour bus. At least I can understand meeting times when they’re instructed to me, know how to ask for the toilet and how to read the exit signs – that’s good enough for me!
So, the following weekend when I had the gap where the current volunteers were leaving and another group was only flying in about 3 days later, off I went on my own adventure to jiuzhaigou!!!
Jiuzhaigou – China’s world-famous “Valley of Nine Villages”!!!
Who says a beautiful place can ever have a “wrong” or “bad” season to visit? The valley was still absolutely gorgeous even in winter! The following pictures don’t do it justice!
On the way to and from the valley, I had the pleasure of meeting some hairy, fluffy strangers…
…whom I later discovered contribute to these mouth-watering skewers that I OH SO LOVE!
By the time I got back to the Panda Base, I was smiling from ear to ear from the satisfaction of having gone to the valley. And when I saw the pandas, those smiles exploded into full-blown “AWWWWWWWW!” I couldn’t help it. I’m such a sucker for adorable animals and I don’t even try to hide it.
There seems to be something about the pandas – I just can’t seem to resist smiling and go all mushy whenever I look at them. The cute floppy ears play a huge role, I reckon. It doesn’t matter if they’re adult pandas or cubs – they all look like living soft toys to me – surreal!
The hilarious thing is, they themselves seem to know that they are mind-blowingly adorable: some of them practically pose for the cameras!
I simply love watching their personalities shine!!!
Feeding time is also of course great fun! The pandas have a carefully selected & regulated diet plan, ranging from the panda bread, to apples, carrots, and fresh bamboos, and the portions actually vary according to each panda’s body weight. It’s not good to be an obese panda or your rations will be reduced!
Finally, I immensely enjoy coming across mistranslated writings and signs… and I’ll leave you with a favourite one of mine:
I loved volunteering in China at the Giant Panda Center in China! Happy volunteering to everyone!