Giant Pandas and Spicy Hotpot: Najeed’s Unforgettable Easter at Chengdu / 大熊貓與辣火鍋:Najeed難忘的復活節成都之旅

(按此看中文版)

CityU Panda Keepers (from left to right): Vincent LYU, Tina ZHAO, Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR, SHENG Yixin, and HU Zhinan. / 城大熊貓義工隊(由左至右):呂唯碩、趙藝婷、Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR、盛逸昕及胡質楠。

Alumni Civility Hall (Hall 3) organised a Volunteer Tour to Sichuan during the Easter Holiday from 15 to 20 April 2017.  Five students,  Tina ZHAO (Residence Tutor, Alumni Civility Hall, Year 4, Accounting), Vincent LYU (Alumni Civility Hall, Year 2, Civil and Structural Engineering), SHENG Yixin (Alumni Civility Hall, Year 2, Public Policy & Politics), HU Zhinan (Hall 10, Year 4, Translation & Interpretation), and Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR (Alumni Civility Hall, Year 1, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering) traveled to Chengdu together and volunteered as Panda Keepers.  Here is Najeed’s sharing:

Expectations

All my prior knowledge about Sichuan came from my friends’ descriptions of the place. My most prominent impression about Sichuan is its distinctive food culture: some friends have described their food as being always spicy to the point it is unbearable. Only upon invitation to the trip to Chengdu, Sichuan I have come to know of its significance for its panda conservation centers and its historic sites. Having shown at least a certain extent of interest for the aspects that made me perceive Sichuan’s character, I decided to take the chance while keeping my fingers crossed for what is hidden ahead.

Day 1

The main landmark in the first day was the ancient Jinli Street. Our main aim was to try out different desserts from the food stalls and then head towards a restaurant for dinner. The most distinctive item from the food stalls was a so-called dessert seasoned with Sichuan’s chilli oil. Such an encounter is impossible in my local cuisine in Jordan where sugar is the main and the dominating ingredient. My favorite of all Sichuan desserts was the pineapple honey. As for our dinner, we have opted for a restaurant which mainly serves hotpots. I find hotpots to be a very engaging approach to gatherings. This, in my opinion, made the atmosphere of the restaurant quite interesting; it gave me the feeling that everyone was more into socializing than eating.

The history of the ancient Jinli Street can be traced back to the Qin and Han Dynasties. / 古色古香的錦里古街,早在秦漢時期已是非常昌盛。

Days 2 & 3

Our next two days were spent in Leshan, where the main attractions are various religious sites. We visited a religious complex which encompasses the Giant Buddha as well as many other temples, some of which are even associated with other faiths. We also went to the peak of Emei Mountain, a site of particular significance to Buddhism.

The trip to Leshan was in fact my first ever visit to religious sites which are associated with other beliefs. I also had the chance to witness the practitioners of other religions firsthand. I was especially surprised to learn that some mentalities or actions can be strikingly similar between completely different faiths. There exist plenty of differences, too. In my opinion, this experience had a significant positive impact on my perception of others’ beliefs. Most importantly, similarities should be appreciated while simultaneously respecting the differences. I believe this was a remarkable experience in enriching my awareness and developing tolerance towards others.

Aside from the site visits, on the first night in Leshan, I finally got to try a hotpot with the local spicy dressings. Its distinctive spicy taste made it one of the best hotpots I have ever tried. The spiciness is sure prominent, but not in a painful way. I have had friends who previously described Sichuan as the land of the food geniuses; it indeed is!

Visiting Baoguo Temple of Emei Mountain. / 造訪峨眉山報國寺。
It snowed! / 下雪了。
Heading to the Great Buddha of Leshan. / 前往樂山大佛。

Days 4 & 5

On the fourth day, we moved to Dujiangyan in order to volunteer at its Panda Base for two days. Throughout this period, we had three main tasks for each day. The staff would take us to our work site, which is a specific set of panda enclosures (each with its own garden!). The first task was to smash bamboo sticks in order to break them into smaller pieces; this makes it easier for the panda to consume their food. Due to the giant panda’s inefficiency in consuming the bamboo, the second task was to recover the leftover pieces of bamboo sticks and leaves from around the garden. The third task was to ensure that the panda house was kept in a good hygienic condition. This means that we also had to look for the panda’s leftovers throughout the enclosure and its garden to clean them up. Thankfully, they were not significantly odorous. After completing these three tasks, we will get the chance to observe and feed the pandas.

Since I usually had a preference for doing any work individually up until high school, this activity has given me another chance to experience the benefits of teamwork with Tina, Vincent, Yixin, and Zhinan. While it can be a curse that pandas are not part of the teamwork in reducing the mess in their enclosures, it was a blessing for having offered a very convenient environment to observe their lifestyle. There is a charm about pandas which cannot be easily described; their lazy lifestyle combined with their innocence somehow makes them adorable creatures.

Feeding bamboo pieces to pandas. / 經過義工處理後的小塊竹片成為了大熊貓的食糧。
Volunteering time. / 義工時間。
Becoming certified as official Panda Keepers! / 獲頒熊貓義工隊證書!

In addition to panda volunteering in those two days, we also visited historic sites like the nearby ancient Dujiangyan irrigation system to know about its purpose and history. After the second day when we have completed our volunteering task, we left Dujiangyan and headed towards the museum of the Jinsha archaeological site. We were then invited to yet another hotpot restaurant by the relatives of Tina, the trip organizer. Their warm welcome and generosity made me immensely enjoy their company despite our language barrier: all what I knew in Putonghua was how to say “hello” and “thank you”, yet I was shy to do so for fear of getting the tones wrong. This was the point at which I finally realized the importance of strengthening my skills in both Putonghua and Cantonese.

Dujiangyan is an amazing ancient irrigation system that has lasted more than 2,000 years long. / 都江堰始建於兩千年前,是中國古代最偉大的水利工程之一。
Dare to try the famous and authentic spicy hot pot from the Sichuan cuisine? / 正宗四川麻辣火鍋,你敢挑戰嗎?

Day 6

Our final day in Sichuan was concluded by a visit to the Tang poet Du Fu’s thatched cottage and its museum. Since I am not proficient in Chinese yet, I mainly focused on learning about Du Fu’s life and history. Although I have gotten the impression that his life was unfortunate, I have highly respected Du Fu for his modesty, persistence and willingness to serve the people, while also taking note of the praise he got for his poetry.

Verdict

The rare, special encounters of this trip made this experience memorable and fruitful. Exploring Sichuan’s cuisine and culture was definitely worth the try, where exploring its heritage has allowed me to broaden my horizons and raise my awareness and tolerance towards other cultures. Moreover, I was delighted to get the chance to observe giant pandas in addition to offering them a helping hand.

A Giant Panda. / 大熊貓。

Writer: Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR (Alumni Civility Hall)
Images: Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR (Alumni Civility Hall), Tina ZHAO (Alumni Civility Hall), Vincent LYU (Alumni Civility Hall)

~~~

CityU Panda Keepers (from left to right): Vincent LYU, Tina ZHAO, Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR, SHENG Yixin, and HU Zhinan. / 城大熊貓義工隊(由左至右):呂唯碩、趙藝婷、Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR、盛逸昕及胡質楠。

校友樂禮堂在2017年4月15至20日舉辦了一次在四川做義工的活動。趙藝婷(校友樂禮堂宿舍導師/會計系四年級)、呂唯碩(校友樂禮堂/土木結構工程二年級)、盛逸昕(校友樂禮堂/公共政策及政治二年級)、胡質楠(舍堂十/翻譯及傳譯四年級)和Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR(校友樂禮堂/機械及生物醫學工程學系一年級)五名宿生在為期五天的假期中,一同造訪四川成都大熊貓繁育研究基地當義工。以下是Najeed 分享的經歷:

期待

在此之前,我對四川所有的了解都只源於來自那裡的朋友。對四川最突出的印象是其獨特的美食文化:一些朋友形容為「不可忍受之辣」 。直到收到此次成都之旅的邀請,我才了解到,四川的大熊貓保護基地和歷史古跡也是赫赫有名。充滿著好奇,我決定利用這次機會認識四川,雙手合十迎接未知的旅途。

第一天

第一天的主要行程是錦里,我們的目標是吃遍所有小吃攤以及尋找晚飯的餐廳,最獨特的是一種四川辣椒油調味的甜品,這種搭配在我的家鄉菜裡是絕對沒有的(註:小編來自約旦) 。所有四川甜點里我最喜歡的是菠蘿蜜。至於晚飯,我們選擇了火鍋店。我發現火鍋是大家聚餐很好的選擇,火鍋讓飯店的氣氛變得尤為奇妙,最重要的不是吃,而是互動。

The history of the ancient Jinli Street can be traced back to the Qin and Han Dynasties. / 古色古香的錦里古街,早在秦漢時期已是非常昌盛。

第二天&第三天

接下來的兩天在樂山,這裡有許多佛教名勝。我們參觀了樂山大佛和幾座其他隸屬其他宗教的寺廟。我們登上了峨眉金頂,這是對佛教意義重大的一個古跡。事實上,樂山之行是我第一次拜訪其他宗教的景觀,我也親眼見到了不同信仰的朝聖者。我很驚訝地發現,儘管信仰不同,可有些心理和行為在我們之間卻如出一轍,當然,也有很多不同之處。這個發現使我對其他宗教信仰產生了積極的印象,重要的是,我們珍惜相似之處,也尊重不同之處。我相信這次經歷能豐富我的認知,使我對其他文化更加寬容。

除了景點以外,在樂山的第一晚,我最終嘗試了當地的麻辣火鍋,辣味獨特醇厚,吃起來一點也不痛苦,是我吃過的最美味的火鍋之一。有朋友曾經形容四川是美食天堂,現在我也承認這一點!

Visiting Baoguo Temple of Emei Mountain. / 造訪峨眉山報國寺。
It snowed! / 下雪了。
Heading to the Great Buddha of Leshan. / 前往樂山大佛。

第四天&第五天

第四天我們來到都江堰,為大熊貓基地做兩天的義工。每天有三項任務,工作人員將我們帶到工作地點,是熊貓舍,每隻熊貓都有自己的小花園!第一項任務是將竹子切成小塊,便於熊貓進食。由於熊貓吃的非常慢,所以第二項任務是把竹子和竹葉從花園回收。第三項任務是保持熊貓舍的清潔,所幸沒有很難聞的氣味。完成三項任務后,我們就有機會觀察和餵養大熊貓了。

到高中為止,我一直喜歡獨自完成任務,這次活動也給了我與他人合作的機會,與趙藝婷(校友樂禮堂宿舍導師/會計系四年級)、呂唯碩(校友樂禮堂/土木結構工程二年級)、盛逸昕(校友樂禮堂/公共政策及政治二年級)和胡質楠(舍堂十/翻譯及傳譯四年級)一起,感受團隊工作帶來的快樂。儘管團隊合作有時也不會減輕熊貓舍一團糟的現狀,但是這卻是觀察熊貓生活的很方便的環境。熊貓有個難以描述的魅力:懶散的生活方式與天真無辜的個性結合,使它們被大家喜愛。

除了在大熊貓基地做義工,這兩天我們還參觀了古代都江堰灌溉系統,了解了其目的和歷史。

Feeding bamboo pieces to pandas. / 經過義工處理後的小塊竹片成為了大熊貓的食糧。
Volunteering time. / 義工時間。
Becoming certified as official Panda Keepers! / 獲頒熊貓義工隊證書!

完成義工工作後,我們離開都江堰,去往金沙江考古遺址博物館。藝婷的親戚更熱情邀請我們品嘗當地的火鍋。他們的熱情好客使我沉浸在被陪伴的喜悅中,儘管語言交流有點困難,我只知道普通話的「你好」和「謝謝」,但不敢說出口,怕說錯音調。我意識到,該加緊學習普通話和廣東話了。

Dujiangyan is an amazing ancient irrigation system that has lasted more than 2,000 years long. / 都江堰始建於兩千年前,是中國古代最偉大的水利工程之一。
Dare to try the famous and authentic spicy hot pot from the Sichuan cuisine? / 正宗四川麻辣火鍋,你敢挑戰嗎?

第六天

這是四川之行的最後一天,我們去了唐代詩人杜甫的草堂和博物館。因為還不熟練中文,我主要只是了解了他的生平和歷史。他的一生很不幸,但我十分尊敬他謙遜堅強,心懷天下的品格,也記下了他備受讚譽的詩作。

總結

這次與四川的邂逅是一次難忘而精彩的經歷,四川的美食和文化值得探索,歷史古跡更是開闊了我們的眼界,對待其他文化變得更加寬容。而且,我十分高興有機會觀察大熊貓,並為他們的生活提供小小的幫助。

A Giant Panda. / 大熊貓。

文:   Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR (校友樂禮堂)
譯:   王琪 (舍堂十)
圖:   Najeed ALSHAKHSHIR (校友樂禮堂)、趙藝婷 (校友樂禮堂)、呂唯碩 (校友樂禮堂)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s