Name: Taryn Chudo
Year: Junior, Class of 2018
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Internship: Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding, Animal Research
Wow! I can’t believe that we aren’t in Chengdu anymore. These last two weeks went by so fast, especially since Ju wasn’t with us for most of it. A lot of the time that we had left was spent collecting data on the cubs. Combined, we gathered over 100 hours on the cubs! It doesn’t seem like we were there long enough to get that much! During our lunch break and after work each night, we would spend a decent chunk of time entering in the day’s data, but we made sure that we also filled the last of our time with tons of fun activities and lots of good food!
It rained quite a bit, but we didn’t let that stop us. We had lots of restaurants to eat at and not enough time to do so! We had dumplings a couple more times and we made sure to have hot pot as many times as possible. We also were missing Ju while she was in Thailand, so we made sure to eat there one more time.
Not only did we have lots of places to eat, but we also had a lot of sightseeing and souvenir shopping to do! One Friday night, we went to the Sichuan Opera. It was amazing, my favorite parts were the hand shadow performance and this skit about an older married couple. Although we had no clue what the performers were saying, we were still able to understand it well enough. The next day we went to the art market for some shopping. We got lots of folding fans and some small sculptures. We then walked around Chunxi road, which is lined with all kinds of shops and shopping centers.
That following Sunday, we traveled to Sanxingdui, which is an archeological site similar to Jinsha, which we had visited a few weeks prior. Sanxingdui exhibited many artifacts of the ancient Shu people, including a sacrificial site, and giant masks with large ears and protruding eyes. These two features are thought to be representative of their god who can hear and see everything.
During our second to last week, James took us into the red panda enclosure to observe and even help him with training. The enclosure that we went entered had two males and one female, Xiao Bai. James worked with one of the males in order to make catching and transporting him easier. We then worked with Xiao Bai on ultrasound and blood draw training. She did great and it certainly was an experience of a lifetime.
Our last week was definitely interesting. On Monday, we had to take the day off to meet with University staff to figure out all of our move out details. After that was figured out, we went to Jinli for more shopping and tasty street food. As we were walking around, Kelly found a stand that sold various types of insects for food. She decided to try the scorpion!
On Tuesday we were back at the Panda Base. It was raining and we had taken the later morning bus, so we hung out in the lab and worked on entering and organizing our data. That night we went and had our favorite stick style hot pot! On Wednesday, we collected our last sessions of data. That night we went to wide and narrow alleys. It was weird to think that these were the last times that we were going to be there. Thursday was James’ birthday and our last day at the panda base. In the morning, we helped with red panda training and then in the afternoon, we observed giant panda training. We then took James out to the Thai restaurant for dinner. On Friday we souvenir shopped and then met Ju in the evening when she landed. She spent Friday night in Chengdu before leaving for the States the next morning. Before we met her, James took us to an archery place near his apartment. We had a great time and Kelly channeled Katniss Everdeen for most of the time. We all went to dinner that night and had all kinds of local Sichuan food.
On Saturday we met with Eldora and several of her friends. They taught us how to make dumplings and they made all kinds of food. While we cooked and ate we watched Forrest Gump!
After that we went and had dinner with Yang, one of our friends from the Panda Base. He took us to a new kind of hot pot which was delicious. He also took us to try some local snacks. Kelly and I tried pig nose, and Kelly was adventurous enough to try the rabbit head, a Chengdu specialty!
Sunday was our last day. We went to have our favorite hot pot one last time and then traveled to Chunxi road again and walked all throughout the center of Chengdu. We then ended up at Wenshu Monastery and then had snow ice before heading back to the room to pack. The next morning, we started our long journey home.
We had a great time and we both want to be back in Chengdu so badly. We will miss the panda cubs that we have come to know and love and we will miss everyone that we got the pleasure to work with. As I am writing this, I am making hot pot, dumplings, and bing fen (a sweet gelatin dessert) in an attempt to share Chengdu food with my family. Hopefully, we will both be able to travel back to the beautiful city of Chengdu and visit our pandas in the future!