My last full day in China was all about seeing some of the other sites the Chengdu region had to offer, including the Panda Base and the San Xing Dui Museum. The Chengdu Panda Base is a zoo, breeding and conservation center dedicated to the Giant Panda and its diminutive namesake the Red Panda. Picture a zoo with just Panadas, in relatively generous enclosures and you get the picture. The facility has a nursery and dedicated wings for cubs, adolescents and adults. There were a lot of great viewing opportunities for both species and a particularly memorable scene of a cub and its mother sharing a meal of bamboo. There is an opportunity to have your picture taken with a panda, but the price has been apparently rising at many times the rate of inflation, and the schedule didn’t work out!
The San Xing Dui Museum was a very interesting stop, though there aren’t much in the way of ruins on display. The ruins and relics of the ancient Shu culture were only discovered around the turn of the 21st century. There has long been speculation about its existence, with mention of it in legends, inscriptions and traditions of other civilizations. Two major refuse pits were found, and it is astonishing what they found. As with many other contemporary Chinese cultures, they left behind a wealth of pottery and jade, but even more curiously a wealth of bronze. Bronze wares including wine vessels and culturally unique masks were found in prodigious quantities. Also found were ceremonial bronze trees up to 3.5 m tall. The find was confirmation that the Chengdu plain gave rise to unique civilizations which dating back at least 5,000 years.
On return to Chengdu I spent the early hours of my last evening wandering the streets of Chengdu and trying some of their local “snack” cuisine. It’s remarkable the range and selection of shops and brands they have here, but also the prices. Far from being home to bargains everything from Ipods to Lattes seem to cost more here. Electronics giants like Samsung and Apple could have as many as three shops within a block of each other. There are also seemingly multiple locations of brand shops like Louis Vuitton and Omega. There are also Ferrari, Maserati and Bentley dealerships. The new China is already a more prosperous place than I expected.