Sunday, 6 November 2011
We then went back to Xi'an and visited the Wild Goose Pagoda which is a focal point for Buddhists and was very atmospheric but quite crowded. This lovely elephant statue graced one of the many courtyards.
The drizzly rain cleared and we walked around part of the old city wall, then meandered back to the hotel via narrow streets full of small shops. We bought gifts and I did my best to turn a blind eye to a trussed-up sheep being wheelbarrowed of to some no doubt grisly end.
Our trip ended this evening with a dumpling banquet.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
Friday, 4 November 2011
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Monday, 31 October 2011
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Saturday, 29 October 2011
At breakfast we got fresh home-made flatbreads which were scrummy. At mealtimes we are always joined by a variety of dogs including our favourite who we have named 'Stumpy'. She was evidently at the back of the queue when they were giving out legs, and there were only half-size ones left. We walked 5km into the forest and then got word from the trackers that they had found a mother panda and her youngster. We climbed up an impossibly steep mountainside (or I would have said it was if there wasn't a panda somewhere at the top of it), with the aim of getting ahead of where the trackers anticipated the pandas would emerge. It was extremely warm climbing, and the local guide offered to carry my camera-containing rucksack. Our group had got strung out negotiating the steep slope when the mother panda (who evidently was not familiar with the trackers' tactics for delighting tourists) suddenly appeared not far below me and cut across the path of our group - a clear view for me if only for about 10 seconds, but the local guide had disappeared with my camera - no photos even if I had been quick enough! We all regrouped and waited quietly, and eventually the cub (about 12 months old) came bumbling along looking for its mother. It was slightly obscured by the vegetation but close enough to see how cute it was.
Friday, 28 October 2011
The skies were blue today and the temperatures climbed as we walked - it was hot for late October. We went about 5km through the forest in several stages, waiting in between for news over the radio from the trackers, but they had nothing to report so we settled down by the beautiful river to eat our lunch.
After lunch, we got word that the trackers were on to a panda so we bushwacked up steep hills and through tall, thick bamboo, but the panda evaded us. All we saw was some panda poo, which is enormous! (Fellow guest Alf's hand included for scale - he wasn't touching it, honest.)
Thursday, 27 October 2011
We arrived at the Research Station as it was getting dark, but this is our 'hotel', photographed later in the week (when the mists had descended). Hmmm - not quite so 4-star:-)Inside is better, with an LPG heater to warm the room and a big flask of boiling water each day for washing, although the mattresses appear to have been stored at a pressure of several atmospheres and are quite 'firm'. I shall resort to sleeping on top of one duvet and under another - the joys of having a spare bed!
We stopped en route to Foping to visit a group of golden snub-nosed monkeys in another part of the Qinling Mountains. The group is regularly fed by the local people and has become habituated to humans so we got some good photos. This species is endangered and found only in China, so it was quite a bizarre privilege to get so close to them. As well as looking weird, they have a strange call a bit like a plaintive human baby.