The Road to Everest

Great Tour of China Day 7
May 5, 2006,

As the Labour Day Bank Holiday festivities continued, the traffic was again quite heavy today. Fortunately, however, we did not have far to go between Guangyuan and Chengdu, a busy metropolis where most people say ‘Hello’ in the whole of China.

Before we reached Chengdu itself, however, we stopped at the Giant Panda Museum Research Centre, where we learnt about the precarious lifecycle of the panda and what measures are being taken to ensure that this most endangered of species survives.

The Centre, which was established in 1987, and which has so far received over 5 million GBP, has successfully raised over 50 giant pandas in its natural forest habitat and released them into the wild.

Due to the hot weather, the giant pandas seemed to prefer staying inside their air-conditioned rooms today, where they chewed on endless supplies of bamboo (pandas eat for up to 18 hours per day!), all the while scrutinised by hordes of local and foreign tourists.

The red pandas were more keen to make an appearance, although one wonders about their chances in the wild when they have become so adept at standing on two feet and begging intrigued onlookers for food. As the saying goes in the Centre’s Panda Museum: “Let us hope that pandas and humans survive as long as there is life on Earth.”

We then had a short drive to our hotel on the outskirts of Chengdu, where we enjoyed a poolside barbecue, which was enjoyed by all – especially those who fancied a change from traditional Chinese food.

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Day 30: Thursday 25 May 2006
Zhaoqing – Splendid China, Shenzhen

On this our final day of the Great Tour of China 2006, we made a short journey mainly on expressway from Zhaoqing to the Splendid China Cultural Park in Shenzhen for the ceremonial finish.

May 26, 2006
Day 29: Wednesday 24 May 2006
Guilin - Zhaoqing

We left Gulin on smooth fast roads with wonderful views of the ‘eggbox’ type hills. These are hills of limestone which have eroded into shape over centuries covered in native vegetation and resembling very large teeth.

May 25, 2006
Day 28: Tuesday 23 May 2006
Kaili - Guilin

The agenda today was another long driving day to Guilin along a mixture of road surfaces: smooth main roads, bumpy secondary roads and some roads still under construction.

May 24, 2006
Day 27: Monday 22 May 2006
Huangguoshu Falls - Kaili

Before negotiating another day on the road, everyone spent a couple of hours today visiting China’s most scenic falls at Huangguoshu. Set against lush, local vegetation, the falls make up in beauty for what they lack in size.

May 23, 2006
Day 26: Sunday 21 May 2006
Kunming – Huangguoshu Falls

This morning we took the northern road from Kunming on a mix of main highway, dual carriageway and back roads. The first town we passed through was Quiyang en route to Honggu, a large town with coal mining and steel production as it’s main industries.

May 23, 2006