Tuesday, August 23, 2011

XUANWU: 01 - Even Pandas Plank Nowadays

I was supposed to go to the Miutanyu section of the Great Wall today. Wikitravel says that this is less crowded than the more popular portion at Badaling, which they dubbed as the "Great Wall of Tourists". Another interesting thing to note about Miutanyu is that they have a cable car going both ways, but that's not the real deal yet. Hold your breath. Okay. They have a toboggan! This means you could slide all the way down! This sealed the deal for me. So, what happened? Laziness. I arrived at Dongzhimen at exactly 9 AM, the last trip of the 936/867 bus going straight to Miutianyu. I couldn't locate the bus. I took a chance on the 916 bus going to Huairou, and then I took bus 867 which ended its run at Hongluo Temple. No wall for me. The taxi was asking for a hundred yuan. No, thanks. I boarded the same bus going back to Dongzhimen. I'll just add the Great Wall to the long list of victims of my laziness. I know this won't be my last time in Beijing. My Mandarin studies will bring me back to this city one day. Then, I would have my stroll on that wall. Hopefully the toboggan would still be in operation by then.

I took the necessary transfers by metro to arrive at Beijing Zoo. Thankfully there was a Yoshinoya branch nearby! They are not paying me to advertise them, by the way. It’s just that Yoshinoya seems to be enjoying some popularity in China and compared to McDonalds or KFC, at least Yoshinoya has Beef Bowl. I’ve eaten so much chicken in the past few weeks that I might just grow wings tomorrow. Black Swan? White Chicken? Black and White Planking Pandas! Black and white planking pandas are waiting for you inside the Beijing Zoo, but I don’t guarantee that they would be cooperative. They are a lazy species. You’d also be if you are in captivity all your life and do nothing but try to impress the tourists ogling at you. I’d probably be grumpy too. I feel you, Pandas. I’ve been to Ulan Bator. I know the feeling of being stared at.

The prices are displayed on a board but they are in Mandarin. There are translations in English but are not very helpful because they seem to have been written by a seven year old child. Or at least, that’s what I thought of it. Train lag? It’s been days, hello. Just ask the guy at the counter. It seems a bit complicated because they also offer tandem tickets for the aquarium and some boat ride that feature crocodiles doing ballet. I made that one up. The crocodiles doing ballet, not the boat ride. Of course I went to see the Pandas at once!

The Panda House has a separate entrance fee of 5 yuan. Surprise! Along the way you would see some peacocks (Katy Perry probably drew inspiration from here) and birds, neither of which are Pandas, which makes me wonder why they were placed in the same “house”. Maybe they don’t have enough birds to build an aviary. I wanna see your! Panda. I wanna see your Panda! And so you see what they call “Lesser Pandas” which I think is derogatory. If I were a Panda and you call me a “lesser panda” just because I am not big, white, and spotted, but just as lazy, I’ll defecate and throw excrement at you. This is Panda racism. Or just plain classification. Or Chinglish. Bear with me for I’m not making a lot of sense here.

Bear. Bear? Bear! Are Pandas bears? Or are bears Pandas? The experts are still discrediting one another so let’s leave that for a future discussion. The first big Panda I saw was weary and kept on loitering by the grills where the staff should be. I don’t know if it was hungry or it just needed to go to the toilet. When it wasn’t snubbing us, it would go to its playpen, climb the bars, and stay there for a minute or two before going down again to head for the grills. This is the reason why I don’t have a lot of shots. While I wanted to jump in there and get a closeup, my senses were telling me that it wasn’t a very good idea. The signboard with information about the teeth was a clear sign too.

The next Panda in line was just by the grills. Now this one was the total snub. It just had its head on the mud by the grills. Either it was lazy or it died there I had no idea. Either way I pity the poor animal. Solitary life. Spectators all day long ogling at you. Not even a Wii in there for some simulated bowling exercise. That’s depressing. The next Panda was in the Olympics Game Panda House. This one was unconscious and just sleeping there, probably just finished brushing its powerful teeth with a bottle of Jack. You know what Ke$ha does to people, what more, to Pandas. I feel for you, Panda friend. I feel for you.

The Asian Games Panda House has more Pandas. The one at the entrance is separated from tourists by glass, and I was in front of it but since it was only sleeping I just snapped a whatever photo of it an moved on to the next glass cage when there was a sudden commotion because the said Panda suddenly woke up, and jumped towards the glass window before settling there to plank. Of course the other tourists were quick to respond until it became another “evacuation center much” situation, much to my chagrin. What’s with me and wrong timing? That was like half a minute! I need more patience. And yes, the Panda was planking. The follies of human beings are apparently contagious, although it makes more sense for a Panda to hold this position than for a human being.

The next cage has a pair of younger Pandas that are insanely cute, especially when they lie on their backs while chewing on bamboo. Cute. This is a more popular spot, so you would have to contend with many tourists to get a photo in here. You want to pose in front of them? Good luck. The last cage was depressing because the Panda there seemed old, sick (the skin surrounding the eyes have little fur and seem swollen), and had no fans. After that oldie, there are no more Pandas for you. It’ time to move on to the monkeys, the werewolves. I mean WOLVES, those that look like not so cute dogs that DON’T transform into human beings to battle vampires. The aquarium has a separate fee so, no, thanks. I like eating fish more than staring at them, unless they start eating each other. That would be more interesting to watch, like, so Jaws.

Since Xicheng to the north and Xuanwu to the south have since been merged into one district, you could also ride the metro to go to the Summer Palace, where I did not go because I was out of time and it would mean a lot of walking again. This could expand your itinerary for the day. The National Library is one metro stop away. There are also many universities in the area if you want to check out some campus grounds. As for me I just went to a department store, and then later stared at the China Exhibition Center building, which seemed unique.

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