AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Chengdu Panda Sanctuary

Chengdu Panda Sanctuary


Posted on May 27, 2014

Since our arrival in Chengdu the image of the panda has been everywhere. It takes the form of panda bags, magnets, cups and even a giant panda climbing up the nearby shopping plaza windows. Chengdu is at the heart of world research into pandas both giant and red. It is also the world leader into artificial insemination of pandas with the aim of trying to successfully breed giant pandas and then in the future prepare them to live in the wild. At the last count there was around 1,000 pandas left in the wild in China. They have been around for 8million years, starting life as carnivores before changing to eat bamboo. They still have the digestive system of a meat eater and only 20% of the bamboo they eat is actually digested. Everything else is wasted! Previously, their habitat was the whole of China. Now they live in small pockets in Western China. The Chengdu Giant Panda Research Centre is responsible for breeding pandas which have been used a diplomatic tools with some people arguing it is merely a breeding centre with no hope of them being returned to the wild as they cannot fend for themselves. We left at 7.10am and set off to another hostel to pick up someone else. As our driver went in he was passed by a girl who proceeded to have breakfast across the street. 15minutes later the girl went back into the hostel before emerging with the driver 5 minutes later. We were delayed by 20minutes meaning that we missed the start of the ‘tour’. The tour was a man showing us the best bits of the Sanctuary whilst hurrying us along. He spoke no English. We eventually arrived at the Sanctuary at 8.15am and our driver swiftly took us to the other end of the park for our first glimpse of the Giant Pandas. The first ones we saw were a mother and her young cub before moving onto the youngsters tumbling around and climbing trees in their habitat. The Sanctuary is very clean and it appeared that the pandas had lots of space to play and relax. Our next enclosure had a group of pandas eating their breakfast. One wasn’t interested and promptly climbed a tree to sleep. This panda on the other hand was clearly enjoying his food. As pandas are inefficient, retaining only 20% of the energy given by the bamboo it is not surprising that they just sit around or lie down. However, the younger pandas are a lot more active and seem to enjoy rolling and tumbling or play fighting with their mates. We then...

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Annapurna Sanctuary & Poon Hill

Annapurna Sanctuary & Poon Hill


Posted on Apr 7, 2014

Day 1: Naya Pul to Ulleri Altitude: 1,000m Climb: 1,080m Time: 4h45m  + 75 minute lunch We had arranged with the company that supplied our porter guide to send a taxi at 8am and take us from the hotel to the bus station in Pokhara, this allowed us to have breakfast at a reasonable hour. It was a short taxi ride to the bus station in Pokhara, where Prem (our porter) and I bought the tickets to Naya Pul. As soon as we left Annemarie alone with the bags she was mobbed by sellers, but that’s just how things work in Asia. A single foreign woman is a prime target for anyone selling anything. We had been dreading the local bus to Naya Pul after our last experience with a local bus (from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi). That bus had been extremely crowded, filled with diesel containers, had huge sacks of anything from cement mix to rice in the aisle and even had a woman throwing up for over an hour (filling quite a few sick bags). When the bus pulled into the station all the locals surged forward to get their bags on the roof then crush into the ancient wreck. As we stood waiting for the crush to end we had the pleasure of watching a guy open his window and spit, almost none stop for over a minute. How he had that much spit to get rid of is unknown to me, but the sight and sound is pretty unpleasant. The bus wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d been dreading. The seats were clean and almost everyone had a seat. But, within a few minutes we were stopping every few hundred metres and picking up more and more people and the bus was getting a lot more cramped. Annemarie bore the brunt of the crush this time as she had the aisle seat. A woman trying first to lean on Annemarie and then just sat on her. A few shoves and she got the message. Another guy was holding onto a handle to steady himself, but he picked a place so his arm was basically on Annemarie’s head yet had plenty of room around him. He kept his arm there for over 30 minutes. Personal space in Nepal is an unknown concept. Apart from these two issues the only remaining problem was a very strong smell of concentrated piss! From the overhead shelves we could see something dripping (onto someone’s back two rows in front of us) and the smell of piss was overwhelming. We soon discovered there was a goat on the roof (again!) and it...

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The Duck That Liked to Trek

The Duck That Liked to Trek


Posted on Mar 31, 2014

This is one brave Whitby Lucky Duck! Undaunted by the fact that all the water is frozen, here it is posing for a photo at Annapurna Sanctuary which is 4,130m above sea level. That means it’s 2.5 vertical miles above sea level. It has braved the cold, the wind, the rain and altitude to get here. Behind it is Machapuchare, known as “The Matterhorn of Nepal” due to its distinctive triangle shape. Posted from Ghandruk, Western Region,...

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