Without even realizing how fast time goes by, in the blink of an eye, Golden Week was upon us all. A special week for China, it commemorates the birth of the People’s Republic of China. Golden Week was particularly special this year, as it celebrated its 70th anniversary. This week gave us the opportunity to travel around China a bit and get to know some of the many wonders this impressive country has to offer. After planning an exciting week of adventure with my roommate Angelica, Saturday morning came and I found myself sitting in the Tianjin West station waiting to board my train towards my first destination.
After a 10 hour train trip, Chengdu welcomed me with open arms and plenty of pandas to go around. (Important note: I’m a panda FANATIC!!) Fulfilling my lifelong dream was so surreal, I still can’t actually believe it happened. I know, I know, I am meant to take you all with me through a food journey so incredible it will make your mouth water and your senses explode with the imagery I provide you, but alas, I wouldn’t do anyone any justice if I don’t share what I did this past week.
After spending a perfect day looking at, feeding, and admiring pandas, I came out of the research center more knowledgeable about pandas than when I went in. A diet made up of bamboo, carrots, and special panda cakes are what these gentle and amazing giants eat. They also emphasize the importance of the care of these animals and how, through thorough research, the panda population has successfully gone up and strengthened over the past couple of years.
Chengdu and its amazingly spicy culinary world is incredible, but what took the cake for me was most definitely my trip to see the pandas. Without much time to act after a day of euphoria, Angelica and I were already on our way to our next stop for Golden Week: Zhangjiajie.
If you’ve ever watched Avatar (the movie with the blue people, not the award-worthy tv show), then you’ve probably been in awe at the amazing views the movie has to offer. As with many things, it turns out those views were inspired by the amazing mountain formations in Zhangjiajie and the Tianmen Mountains. With many tourist attractions at your disposal, Zhangjiajie was a whole experience. Opting for the amazing Heaven’s Gate, the Tianmen Mountain path, and the daring Glass Bridge, our adventure day in Zhangjiajie proved to be anything but boring.
After arriving at the base of Tianmen Mountain and enduring a crazy 99 turn bus ride, we were met by a small 999 step staircase that led us to Heaven’s Gate. From there we would take some 8 escalators to the very top of the mountain and walk around the mountain top to see breathtaking views and challenge ourselves with the world known Glass Bridges.
Our last stop in our Golden Week travels was Shanghai! AMAZING food with the Lost Plate Tours, Disneyland, and many other attractions awaited for me during the last days of this special week. I became very familiar with the metro system in Shanghai and was able to travel easily up and down the city to visit those well known tourist traps as well as other smaller, more intimate historically rich locations.
The Pearl Tower and the Jade Buddha Temple received me warmly and amazed me equally while further fascinating me more and more with Shanghai. As I boarded my train back to Tianjin, I had no idea I would be received warmly by part of my Tianjin family — Angelica (who had left a day early) and Mario. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new and different places in China, but it sure felt nice coming back and being met with those who, in such a cold climate, warmed my heart up.