An early start today with an 8:30 departure for the Panda Research Centre, as panda's are most active in the morning. The centre was crowded, but we saw pandas in open enclosures. I lashed out and made a sizeable donation to the centre, in return for being able to nurse a panda (in this case, Erxi, which means Double Happiness, a 1.5 year old male panda). It was an experience, and I have several photos as proof. Lunch was toasted sandwiches and fruit at the panda centre.
Left the centre at 12:30pm for Leshan, a drive of 2.5 hours, to view the sitting buddha carved into the side of a cliff. The buddha is 72 metres tall, and the best way to see it is from the river. So we joined the rest of the tourists for a half hour ferry ride to view the buddha. It was spectacular, and for the first time since arriving in China, saw some blue sky and sun instead of smog. Then back on the road for the return drive to Chebgdu.
Went straight to a restaurant for a buffet chinese dinner, before returning to the hotel at 7:45pm. There was an optional visit to the theatre this evening to see a chinese mask performance, but based on the long day and tomorrows early start, I declined.
This was our last day in Chengdu, as we fly to Lhasa in Tibet tomorrow. The flight leaves at 8:30am, and the airport is out of town, so we have to leave the hotel at 6:30am. Bags are to be outside our rooms by 10:30pm tonight for collection by the agent, who will get them to the airport, and arrange our boarding passes etc for our collection in the morning.
We have a local Chinese tour guide (Jason) until tomorrow, when we are met by a Tibetan tour guide in Lhasa. We also have an Australian tour escort, who has done this trip 8 times previously. She assures us we will get headches tomorrow because of altitude sickness, and tomorrow no activities are planned so that we have time to acclimatise. Drinking plenty of water helps. Of course, the tap water in this region is not safe for drinking, so we have to buy bottled water. Fortunately, the hotel in Chengdu provides 2 bottles of water a day for drinking, cleaning teeth etc, and tonight they have provided 4 bottles to ensure we are hydrated for tomorrow.
We are all looking forward to tomorrow and hoping that the government re-opens Everest Base Camp to visitors by the time we are due to visit.