The day started obscenely early - we were on the way to Chengdu on the 5:57 train. We managed to get out of the hotel after we had woken the night staff so that we could pay. When we got to the station and found the right waiting room, we discovered that the train was 20 minutes late - frustrating.After a couple of hours sleep on the train, we looked out and saw that the scenery had become quite mountainous. It continued like that for most of the day with a spectacular descent following a river valley for about 5 hours.We arrived in Chengdu an hour late (a total of 17.5 hours on the train). Despite phoning our hotel to say we would be late, we found they had screwed the booking up and had no room for us. After a bit of excitement, they found us a room in another place - though this was very basic - the worst room we have had.. As we had a miserable night, we decided to cheer ourselves up and go and see the Pandas. - that is the Panda research centre where they breed them. We left early as the best time to see them is when they eat first thing in the morning - after that they just sleep.There is a big 'ahhh' factor with Pandas. They are almost human in their mannerisms - watching one eat you would have said it was a man in a Panda suit. The biggest ahhh came when we went to see the baby ones - about 1-3 months old. There were 5 of them in something like a cot - one of them could just about crawl along. The other animals in the place are the red Panda - which looks like a cross between a Panda and a Raccoon - not very appealing. The rest of the day was housekeeping - washing and booking our trip down the 3 gorges. For dinner, we were quite bold (or should it be desperate). We tried the famous hotpot dish where they give you all of the ingredients and you cook it yourself. We asked for it non-spicy which meant it was too bland. We had lots of tuition from the waitress about what to do - although having boiled cucumber was a bit odd. The vegetables were fine but boiling the meat didn't make it very appealing.