I haven't had much time to post. This tour really keeps us running, but we are seeing a lot of things. Tomorrow we fly to Nanchang and then are driving to Ningdu. I doubt that we will have internet service in Ningdu. So I probably won't be able to update again until Sunday night at the earliest. I still need to post about our days in Xi'an (wonderful!) and yesterday in Chengdu. Chengdu is a beautiful city, and our guide is the sweetest girl, whose name is Swallow, a translation of her Chinese name. Driving in from the airport yesterday she expressed her gratitude at our visiting her city, saying the tourism industry suffered greatly after last year's earthquake. She told us a few stories of the earthquake and got very emotional. Our group is planning to take up a collection for her to distribute to victims of the earthquake.
Today we finally got to see the pandas! SO much fun. The toddler pandas were very playful. Swallow and Bing said we were very lucky the weather cooled off, because when it's hot all the pandas do is lay around. They were a lot of fun to watch. Rachel and I both got our picture taken with I believe a teenage panda. There are no babies at the preserve right now; just toddlers, teenagers and adults. I don't think the toddlers make good picture subjects, so they place a teenager on a bench and keep feeding him/her apples and it sits there happily eating while we were able to pet it and have pictures taken. No touching their ears or bellies, though, because they are very ticklish there. Rachel also got her picture taken with a red panda. She was able to actually hold the red panda, who was also eating at the time. The preserve itself is beautiful. The walkways are all lined with bamboo which drapes over the walkways. All in all the panda trip was a big hit.
Tomorrow will be a LONG day. The flight from Chengdu to Nanchang is about 2 hours, and I believe our drive to Ningdu will be 4 to 5 hours. This will be the emotional part of the trip, and I don't know how much I'll actually post here. We'll see how it goes. Once home I will post all my pictures and type an email to post to the Ningdu Yahoo group. Later today we plan to have all the girls sit down together and think of questions they want to ask their orphanages. Rachel hasn't really talked much about this part of the trip. I think she is excited to meet our email friend Xiaoting, though.
FYI, Facebook is now blocked here in China, so I am unable to update my Facebook page. :-( We are not anywhere near the rioting up in the northwestern part of China. So please don't worry about that. If anything affects us at this point, it will be heavy rains. It is typhoon season here.