We figured we ought to visit at least one colossal, polluted Chinese city, so we headed to Chengdu. The fifth most populous city in China, it chewed us up and spat us right back out again. Needing to pay the deposit for our Tibet trip, we entered in to the Kafka-esque nightmare that is Chinese banking. Three branches, five forms and two hours later, I think we made a deposit into our agent’s account. After that, we desperately wanted to flee the city but our efforts even to do that were thwarted. Admittedly, we had seriously underestimated demand for bus tickets to Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve and failed to purchase them in advance. I mean, the place only receives about 1.5 million visitors annually…

At least there were pandas. And a great BBQ (wine! imported beer! things on sticks!), kindly hosted by an expat family who were our hotel neighbours in Lijiang. The dad works for Chevron and lived in Perth for a while in the 80s. To know Perth is to love it (ahem), so we were in like Flynn.



On pandas: like many native Australian animals, they are completely useless. Such is their uselessness, Google tells me that they are high on the hit-list of a fearsome Facebook group, the “Coalition against Useless Animals.”  They can barely eat enough bamboo to sustain their lazy-ass bodies; they can’t even be bothered to procreate. Now that’s lazy.

And so we headed to Xining because, frankly, it had been far too long since we tortured ourselves with a 24-hour journey. We must be looking scrawny because our fellow passengers rallied to force feed us throughout the entire trip. I love nothing more than seeing a petite, immaculately groomed and urbane Chinese woman chow down on a whole, hard boiled duck egg and a dried sausage squashed inside a flatbread. I like to think she equally enjoyed watching me scoff one down. Well tasty and it sure beat cup noodles.



Xining is home to the saintly Clark, an English teacher at the local high school, who we met when he rescued us from getting completely lost in Hanoi. Not the prettiest of cities, but super friendly and some great food thanks to the melting pot of Chinese, Tibetan and Muslim cultures (and Clark knowing the best places to go).




With a few days up our sleeve before our Tibet departure, we did a warm-up trip to Tongren and Xiahe, the leading monastery town outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. You know you’re not in Kansas anymore when goat heads are selling like hot cakes in the market. We also had our first taste of Tibetan black tea, which is big, gnarly and smells like tobacco. Kind of like a lot of Tibetans, really.




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4 Responses to “panda-monium”

  1. Sally Says:

    Really love your blog, guys! And glad to know you’re having a fantastic time… but for goodness’ sakes eat more, will you?! You’ve both lost a lot of weight, me thinks! Have fun on your continuing adventure 🙂

  2. Forest Fan Says:

    Eat more??? I’ve just travelled Tibet with these guys and trust me they eat like vultures. Don’t share a meal with them it disappears in less than a blink and don’t get them started on the Momo’s, they just can’t stop! But they are very good at sharing chocolate though 😉

  3. Drew Says:

    Woop Woop Dudes, missing youse guys heaps!

  4. wheaters Says:

    Hey team! PANDAS!!!! OMG parsons, you must’ve been crazy excited. we miss you kids. Also – muz is being relocated to sydney in Jan. So the wheaters are packing up anzac and heading east side. Be prepared for a serious campaign to get you over there…
    lots of love xxxxx

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