Sunday, 6 November 2011

Seeing the sites

This morning we did the conventional touristy bit and drove out of the city through the smog and crazy traffic to visit the Terracotta Army (impressive, but I haven't posted any pictures because there are zillions on the web that all look the same). Unfortunately my most enduring memory of the visit to the Army was the dogs skins for sale at several market stalls on the site - some of the stall holders claimed they were wolf skins (which wouldn't have made it any better), but the larger ones were clearly from German shepherd dogs.
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

Farewell to Foping

Today we bid farewell to Sanguanmiao Research Station and walked the 8km back out of the Reserve, taking in the atmosphere of the forest for the last time. We then continued our journey by road back to Xi'an, hot showers and softer beds! Although it's 5th November and the Chinese did invent fireworks, it wasn't their parliament that someone tried to blow up in 1605 so there'll be no celebrations in Xi'an tonight.

Friday, 4 November 2011

A last search for pandas

Today was our last opportunity for panda tracking, and thankfully the rain stopped. The paths were still streams as the rainwater continued to drain off the steep mountain sides. We bushwacked through the wet bamboo (tip - go near the back of the group so the people in front get the worst soaking!) to a beautiful wooded valley where there are resident red and white giant flying squirrels. They are pretty much guaranteed to put in an appearance when the guides bang on the bottom of their nest tree - fortunately there are still so few visitors to Foping that the squirrels don't get disturbed too often.I didn't manage to get any photos 'in flight' (which is impressive because at full stretch these animals are more than a metre across), but we climbed a steep slope to get on a level with the squirrels' home. Here is one showing neither its red and white coat nor its 'flying' abilities.In the meantime the trackers had had no luck with pandas, so we had lunch in the valley and headed home. One last Foping picture of some random moss (actually it did have takin hair caught on the underside, but not visible here).

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Will we get out of the forest?!

By this morning the rain was absolutely torrential. Definitely no tracking today, in fact the river was now so swollen I was starting to wonder how much of the path through the forest was still intact and whether we would be able to get out! By this afternoon we were getting cabin fever stuck at the Research Station, so headed out in ones and twos for a walk in the rain, which eased off a little. The paths had turned into streams, but I did have a brief encounter with a rock squirrel on the way back to base.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The river swells

After a night of continuous rain which was getting heavier by the hour, the panda trackers didn't go out today. After waiting all morning to see if the weather improved (it didn't!) we attempted a walk in the afternoon towards the golden takin area. The rain got worse and the river was swollen - where we had walked across the exposed rocks two days earlier these had disappeared and there was now nowhere to negotiate the river safely.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

More mist, rain, fungi & leaves

The mist and rain persisted today. We did attempt panda tracking, but the rain got heavier and the trackers went home early, soaked from walking through the wet bamboo.
The forest was still picturesque even in the rain, so I went for a longish walk and took some more pictures of leaves, fungi and anything that didn't move and looked vaguely photogenic!