Chengdu is a large city in Western China with 16 million people and very smoggy conditions ! We have had three days here before the rally starts as we had to have eye tests obtain a temporary Chinese driver’s licence and number plate. However being over 70 six of us were allowed to forego this pleasure for some reason unexplained and we had a day off to explore the city. The most famous thing to see and do here is to visit the Panda Base, so we arose early to try to avoid the crowds. However by 8am. it was already crowded but we managed to get quite close and enjoy them in their natural setting. We then decided to find a shopping centre where we could stock up on necessary supplies for the days ahead. We found a huge supermarket where you could purchase anything from Prada to toilet rolls. Unfortunately we were looking for the latter , so we arrived back at the hotel laden down with toilet rolls and water! All part of a rally experience. We found an amusing sign in the department store which told me I could purchase a less fair maiden outfit! Last night we were taken to a tea house for dinner and and enjoyed an excellent performance of dancers , music and the traditional shadow hands. The food kept coming and as this was schezuan food it was very spicy but delicious. This afternoon we have the safety checks on the car and the signing on and then the medical brief from the Doctor. Ruby is looking good and sounds even better so we hope that continues. Tomorrow we leave on the road to Tibet and the adventure will begin.

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