Sanxingdui Museum and Giant Pandas

Sanxingdui Relics Museum

Sunday was a full day. We left at 8 am on a field trip that would take us to the Sanxingdui Relics Museum and to the Chengdu Giant Panda Research and Breeding Facility. I was feeling slightly sick, with a scratchy throat and sinus problems, and didn’t know if I should go. Later I developed a terrible headache that only subsided when one of the teachers from New Zealand gave me some strong pain medication.

We headed northwest out of Chengdu to Guanghan, the site of the unearthing in 1986 of two pits containing ceremonial sculptures and decorative items of the Shu civilization of 4,000 years ago. It was one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century. We viewed jade, elephant tusks, and bizarre bronze masks and statues from the ancient empire. A very knowledgeable guide led us on a 2-hour visit.

The teachers’ group in front of the museum

For information about the Sanxingdui Relics Museum, visit

We then adjourned to a restaurant on the grounds for a delicious Sichuanese lunch. My favorite item was spicy tofu, although a close second was some kind of bizarre fish. My head was pounding and my heart was racing, so I closed my eyes and tried to think non-painful thoughts on the bus ride to the Panda Facility.

Pandas, pandas, pandas…

Only one of my panda photos came out; the rest were blurry, like me. We saw both black-and-white and red pandas, and the preserve is a beautiful place with tall alleys of bamboo and the sounds of birds and crickets. One of the more obnoxious teachers paid 400 yuan to be photographed up close with a panda; I think it’s a rather cruel thing to make the creatures do, but there you have it.

…and one real one, asleep.

It’s almost time for dinner now, and I’ve had a full weekend of sightseeing. I still have lesson plans to do tonight. I think my throat and sinus conditions may be related to the weather change and the bad air quality. There’s often a sharp, burning smell in the air that I can’t quite place. Right now my nose is running without stopping. My acupuncturist in L.A. promised me I wouldn’t have allergies in China – I feel like sending him a nasty email.


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