Travels December 2007

The Travel Advisory

How to get to the Wolong Reserve and how to support its panda programs

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"Among the Pandas"
Our cub reporter exposes China's soft underbelly. By James Fallows

To get to Wolong, you must first get to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province and a city well worth a day or two for its food, its temples and extensive gardens (especially that of the poet Du Fu), and its teahouses, where people really do spend afternoons playing mah-jongg or bursting into song.

Wolong is roughly four hours of difficult driving west from Chengdu, up into the mountains on a twisting road now undergoing major repairs. We made our arrangements through the Chengdu travel agent Peter Woo ( For about $380, we hired a car and driver for the trip up and back, plus two nights at the Wolong Hotel, five miles away. It is a “four-star” hotel minus some of what that would imply elsewhere (e.g., coffee, Internet service of any kind)—but hey, pandas!

Most foreigners who see how modestly the panda center is run, and how much it relies on donations, wonder how they can help. The main U.S.-based conduit for tax-deductible contributions is

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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