Tomorrow night I'm going to Chengdu with Angelyn and Jessica. This trip serves several purposes ranging from just an excuse to get out of town, Jessica's birthday trip, and knocking one more place off my list of places to go in life. The thing Chengdu is probably best known for? Pandas. Sichuan province is basically panda central. A few quick facts: The Chinese word for panda is 大熊猫 which translates to "big bear cat." The panda was mainly unknown to the Western world until 1869 when a French scientist brought a pelt back to Europe and described the panda to the scientific community. There are thought to be only about 1000 pandas left in the wild today. Pandas live on a diet exclusively made of bamboo. Bamboos flower and die en mass every 25 years or so, which led to more than 130 pandas starving to death on just one mountain in the mid-70s. There's a panda breeding facility in Chengdu with more than 50 giant and red pandas, which you can hold and have your picture taken for a price ranging from 50 yuan to 1200 yuan (depending on whether you want to settle for a red panda for shell out the dough for a cute baby giant panda).
A few other quick facts that important for completely different reasons: Chengdu has 7 Starbucks locations. It also has 2 Mexican restaurants. Chengdu has good shows... last year my friend Jeremy was chosen from the crowd to be the one who stood against a wall and had knives thrown at him. Chengdu is the 5th largest city in China. It's close to several good mountains known for their good views, hikes, or other touristy things.
We really don't know exactly when we'll come back, but we'll definitely come back Wednesday at the latest. That would make the trip a full 7 days from start to finish. I'm excited about it! I didn't get out of town in October holiday so I'm ready for this. Then we'll come back, have Christmas a few days later, have New Years a week later (which I'm going to Yichang for), and then around January 14 I'm going to Kunming for language school. Yay!!! It's going to be a busy time.
As for today's news, I had no class today so I didn't too much official type stuff. This morning I got a call saying I had two packages (woohoo!) so I ran down to the post office to get the wonderful boxes of goodies mom and grandmother sent me. I had fun opening those and sorting through them with Angelyn. So many good possibilities for Christmas goodies! I went shopping with Jessica and Angelyn after lunch, mainly so I could buy our train tickets to Chengdu. Then Jessica and I had to come back so we could record this week's campus English talk radio segment. We don't go on the radio every week, but sometimes they invite us for an interview. Every time I've done it before, I was the only one being interviewed. I've decided that it's 50 times more fun with someone else because we can just goof around and talk for 40 minutes then they edit it down to 15 or however many they want and everyone has a good time. Christina, the student in charge of it, promised to give us a copy of the unedited version of our interview. You'd have to hear it to understand how stinkin' hilarious it was, but I plan to somehow distribute it on here if I can. There's one part in the middle where Christina stops to answer her cell phone (there is nothing in existence that can stop a Chinese person from dropping what they are doing to answer their cell phone) so Jessica and I go off on a tangent about Christina's new boyfriend and I end up wishing her a long, happy life with him. She came back right at that moment and, only hearing the part where I wish her a happy life, said "thanks!" Later when we got her to play it back she was so embarrassed because she didn't know what she was thanking me for. Like I said, you have to hear it to appreciate it. Jessica and I also got into an argument over some song lyrics for "Winter Wonderland". I'm pretty sure the words are "in the meadow we can build a snowman" but she sang "in the weather we can build a snowman." Anyhoo, moving on. After the show we went home and Jessica was kind enough to make us all fresh salad with chicken breast, ranch dressing, and *GASP* bacon!!! Bacon almost never happens here in Shiyan. Actually, it never does. You have to go 7 hours to Wuhan to get it. But we got some and it was amazing! Also, ranch dressing doesn't happen here either, unless you have a mix someone sent you from home. Thanks someone! Zoe and Halley ended up coming over and eating with us, then we all hung out with some of Angelyn's students who came over for a movie. After all of that you would think that the night would be over. But it wasn't! Jessica, Zoe, Halley, and I went to the track and ran for a while. I coached Halley through her first time ever running 8 laps while Jess and Zoe did a fun mix of power walking, running, jazzercizing, and playing on the parallel bars.
All in all a good day, filled with goodness and friends. Tomorrow morning I have a final exam to administer, followed by a lunch of banana pancakes to enjoy for Jessica's birthday. Then tomorrow night is our weekly Thursday night Study, slightly altered to accommodate a birthday cake party for Jessica, then an 11pm train to Chengdu. Woot! Since I don't know exactly what my internet situation will be, I may or may not be on in the next week. I'll play it by ear. Until next time, peace, love, and pandas.