May 22, 2008
From Songpan we took a bus heading south.
Our original plan was to visit the panda bears at the Wolong Nature Reserve, but we changed our plans when we learned that all the pandas were moved out of this reserve after the huge 2008 earthquake. Instead, we went straight to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
Now, we don’t normally dedicate a whole post to a bus ride, but this drive was really interesting. During the ride we got very close to Wenchuan, the epicenter of the 2008 earthquake, so we saw various signs of the destruction and the reconstruction efforts. To recap – the earthquake happened almost exactly one year earlier (May 12, 2008). From what we heard, this route was only opened to bus services about a week before, so we got lucky – otherwise we would have had to do a lot of backtracking to reach Chengdu.
One of several collapsed bridges. On both sides of the river the terrain was steep and brittle (“moraine”). It’s no wonder the earthquake caused so many landslides:
Chinese construction crews working on a tunnel. We saw lots of road- and building construction everywhere:
In the back, one of the many broken-down condemned buildings we saw along the way. In front, rows and rows of identical blue-roof temporary houses to shelter those who lost their homes in the quake:
A collapsed building on the outskirts of Chengdu. We saw very little damage so close to the city, so this sight was jarring (most the damage was further away, in the canyon):