Found in Ya’an: A Muslim neighbourhood

Filed in Food, Travels

We were trying to decide where to have dinner this evening. I mentioned a preference for beef or lamb and Amy, my good friend at the panda base, said how about we go to the Muslim neighbourhood.

There is a Muslim neighbourhood in Ya’an? I was intrigued and agreed to check out the makan shops there.

It was within walking distance of the hotel. She wasn’t sure of the way and stopped to ask a couple for directions to the mosque. They pointed to a spot across the road.

I was expecting a grand mosque, and was surprised with how modest it was.

mosque-yaan-130921-1

My first sight of the mosque in Ya’an. Two doors away to its right is the office.

mosque-2-yaan-130921-1

The main entrance.

mosque-3-yaan-130921-1

Past the entrance, the first doorway, with what I think are sayings
from the Koran in Chinese.

The makan shop next to the mosque was full so we opted for another one across the road. The meal we ordered was a familiar local favourite with halal ingredients.

halal_hotpot-yaan-130921-1

Halal hot pot just put to boil. We ordered beef, tofu, meat dumplings
and straw mushrooms.

Something very familiar …

cili_padi-yaan-130921-1

Cili padi!

green_cili-yaan-130921-1

Green chillies, Ya’an style.

The only thing missing was the soy sauce.

I’m happy to find this Muslim neighbourhood in Ya’an for the Zoo Negara vets and keepers who will be visiting soon to train ahead of Fu Wa and Feng Yi’s arrival in Malaysia next year. From what I’ve heard, a main concern was food. No need to eat instant noodles all the time while here, guys.

Photo of the day

Filed in Stress Busters

meisheng-2-nbc-130910-1

Bai Yun’s #1 son, and my favourite overseas-born boy panda. His name? Mei Sheng, which can mean “Born in the USA” or “Beautiful Life”. From his cheeky grin, looks like he’s living the beautiful life in Bifengxia Panda Base, China.

Yes, I’ve arrived. As usual, it was a night in Chengdu, followed by a relatively early morning bus ride to Ya’an, check-in at hotel, lunch, and then it was up to Bifengxia.

It was a busy afternoon visiting pandas in the various “neighbourhoods”. The only place I didn’t visit today was Bai Xiong Ping or White Bear Plain. I usually start each visit from there as it’s the closest to the entrance. But this time, I was eager to visit Feng Yi and her baby at the new breeding centre turned maternity ward.

The population there at the moment is about half mothers and half possibly expectant mothers. With one exception – Mei Sheng. He’s the only male there. Maybe that’s the reason for that cheeky grin.

And yes, I got to see Feng Yi cuddling her baby in her right arm. And I saw how when the cub vocalised, Feng Yi immediately bent down to nuzzle her baby. More on this in another post, possibly over at myPandas site.

Precious gift from mother 43 years ago

Filed in Family

A bilingual dictionary that I took with me to England 16 years after she gave it to me. I consulted it for my weekly letters home during my three years there.

dictionary-cover-1
Spine and cover of dictionary

On the third page after the front cover is what makes this dictionary SO precious.

dictionary-inside-1
A sample of mother’s handwriting

I need to find out what those four characters say. I can speak Mandarin but my written comprehension is way below average.

New bedsheets await 2013 cubbies

Filed in News, Stress Busters

Bifengxia Panda Base took delivery of three new incubators from Pandas International on 13 May 2013 (what a lovely date).

Each incubator comes with a bedsheet.

bedsheets-bfx-130513

When I saw the bedsheet, I was reminded of the familiar one I’ve photographed over the years.

September 2007 (Wolong Panda Centre)
incubator-sept2007

August 2008 (Bifengxia Panda Base)
incubator-aug2008

September 2010 (Bifengxia Panda Base)
incubator-sept2010

September 2012 (Bifengxia Panda Base)
incubator-sept2012

There is no incubator photo for 2009 as I’d visited in May that year when the nursery was closed (no cubbies until after July), and for some reason, no incubator photo/s for 2011 even though I’d visited in August and September that year.

I look forward to seeing the 2013 cubbies resting on the new blue bedsheets.

Five years ago today

Filed in Personal, Stress Busters

Today is the 5th anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake. Today is one of the reasons I am here in Ya’an – to be with the giant pandas and their keepers who lost their home in Woloing Panda Centre that was extensively damaged by the 5.12 earthquake.

Thanks to the existence of Bifengxia Panda Base, Wolong was able to keep most of its pandas together. Bifengxia was originally set up in 2003 “to avoid panda fatalities and the spread of infectious diseases in the Wolong captive population … Several pandas were taken to the base in order to secure the safety of the entire population as a whole.” (Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda official guide)

This means Wolong’s captive population is located in two places at any time – an excellent strategy, as it turned out, especially in light what happened during the 5.12 earthquake in 2008.

There are many things i am grateful for. Giant pandas, Wolong and especially Bifengxia Panda Base are some of them.