Name: Kelly Jackson
Year: Senior, Class of 2017
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Internship: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding- Animal Behavior Research
Taryn and I have been enjoying our time in China and have had new adventures each day! Last week Sunday we went out for breakfast, drank boba tea and went to the panda post to send postcards back to our friends and families at the Panda Post. Eldora had taken Macie and I there last year, and all of the workers had spoken English very well while we were there. Afterwards we came back to the school to do laundry. It was very nice out so I decided to read one of the books I brought outside while my laundry dried in the sun. Our neighbors saw me and talked to me for a bit! They are very nice people. :)
We started off last week by watching the pandas (of course). They had brought the pandas in because it was too hot for them outside. Once they brought them in, one of the keepers, Mei Mei, asked us if we would like some watermelon. So we took a break from the pandas and ate the delicious fruit with them! In the afternoon we also had the opportunity to see them put the pandas back outside from the back area (it had cooled off a bit). It definitely helped a lot when trying to figure out who was who!
The following days at the panda base were some of the most exciting ones thus far. On Tuesday, Ju and I decided to walk around the panda base during lunch while Taryn watched Game of Thrones. While this is my second time being at the panda base, I still haven’t explored the whole area because it is very huge. As Ju and I were wandering around the panda base, we ran into an enclosure that had a familiar sign…it was the cubs from last year! Finally found them! All five of them were inside and SO BIG! It is crazy to me just how big they get in such a little time. Unfortunately, I could not tell who all of them were, except Shuang Hao. :P Ju and I also walked to Bird Lake, and took lots of pictures of all the beautiful birds.
On Wednesday, Taryn and I had the chance to help out with some enrichment! A lady had donated enrichment items to the panda base and James had asked if we could give it to the cubs. The husbandry department gave us the okay and off we went! Pandapia, the official photographing company of the panda base, decided they wanted some video footage of the pandas playing with the handy dandy enrichment item, otherwise known as “the amazing graze” (it is for horses!). Taryn recorded video and I used my camera to take some great pictures! The cubs absolutely loved it. :P
The rest of the week we actually had off due to the Dragon Boat Festival Holiday. On Thursday I decided to go ahead and explore the east side of the campus. I ended up walking to a place called the Jiulidi Site. According to the writing (it was in English), the area was built in order to protect Chengdu from floods. However, most of the area had been destroyed and now it is much smaller. I also found a pet store too that had puppies and kittens for sale! Later on in the day Taryn and I went to the art market. My favorite part of the market is the beautiful paintings artists create. The extensive detail that is put into each piece is so precise; you can tell they put so much effort into it. We then met Ju later for dinner at the Shangri-La. :)
The next day we spent the whole day with Ju. We went to a sandwich place (recommended by James) for lunch which was SO GOOD and got boba (yum!). We headed on over to the Sichuan Art Museum for a good majority of the day. Almost all of the signage at the art museum was translated into English, so we could read a lot of the descriptions of the pieces. I really enjoyed reading the signs, and learned a lot about the history of the sculpture, painting, or object being displayed. One of the several I personally enjoyed was the Tea contrast. When designing certain pottery items, the sculptors took into account the tea that would be poured into them. The color and the uniformity of the tea, as well as whether or not the foam disappeared, determined who would win “the game.” I’m not sure what “the game” is, but it sounds mysterious! :P After the museum, we went swing dancing with Ju again! I had the chance to dance with several people this time, and felt a whole lot more confident in my swing skills!
On Saturday Taryn and I hung out with our new friends Andrew and Melody! We had met Andrew on the campus one day and she wanted to spend the day playing with us. :) And what better place to go on your day off then the panda base? ;P Andrew had never been there before and we wanted to show her around, and give her the full panda experience! She was so happy watching the pandas, even though most of them were sleeping by the time we got there. Melody and Andrew even got us selfie sticks so we could take pictures of the pandas later on! We went to lunch next and ate delicious hot pot! The two of them had to go and so we said farewell. I decided to go to the track and dance Zumba with the ladies there! They were so much fun, but it was definitely a workout! :P
Sunday we went back to the panda base, where we were thrown for a loop. The keepers had put some of the cubs with the moms! While it was exciting we were not sure what to do, and whether or not this would affect our data. After discussing it, we determined that it would still be okay to watch the cubs with the moms. It will be exciting to not only be able to watch the cubs, but to also watch the adult pandas a bit too, and see how the cubs interact with their moms. :)
Taryn and I have started collecting our actual data this week, which is also awesome! :) We’ve talked with James about entering data into excel and what in theory our results should look like to support our hypothesis. Each day we still continue to watch the cubs, and each day they do something crazy and/or cute! :) Hopefully, they will continue to be highly active so we can get a ton of social interactions between them!
Even with watching the pandas every single day, one of the highlights of the trip would have to be when I walked to the mall the other day. I decided to explore the road on the opposite side of the mall, and see if there were any cool new food places there Taryn and I could try. There was not a lot of restaurants, and mainly clothing stores so I ventured back to the mall. I was curious to see the roof of the mall, and made my way up to the top. There was a quaint little tea shop surrounded by a garden of greens and various crops. I continued to walk till I found myself alone, sitting on a marble ledge just looking out into the horizon watching the sun. It was getting dark, and I figured I might as well stay and watch the sunset. It was absolutely breathtaking. I had never seen a sunset in the city before, let alone in China. You could barely hear the cars and the busy street down below; the only sounds were the planes flying overhead and above you. Yes, I love so many things about Chengdu. From the food to the people, China will always have a place in my heart. But in reality, it’s the little moments like this that make me realize why I really truly enjoy being here. It makes me sad that almost half of our time is gone here. :( I am looking forward to what the rest of the trips brings for Taryn and I! :)
P.S. James also surprised me by bringing the best mangos in the world to lunch yesterday. Needless to say, Kelly’s Belly was VERY happy. :)