11 October, 2007

No.21: Sichuan - Jiuzhaigou

Jiuzhaigou
17th-19th July, 2005
After J and I traveled to Beijing and back again to Xi'an during the summer holidays in 2005, we proceeded on to Chengdu in Sichuan province which is his hometown. He studied in Xi'an and having graduated, was heading for home. I also helped carry several things back to his hometown. The only train ticket we could get hold of were hard seated ones. I need not explain again how it's like to travel in a crowded train plus extra luggage this time :P I stayed with his family who were very hospitable and helped me better understand family life in yet another province. Since Sichuan dialect is spoken in a fast and high tone, it seemed to me as though they were quarreling many a times *_* It was only after a while that I came to realize that it was because of the dialectal difference with Xi'an. Sichuan dialect sounds too quarrel-like to the slower and low toned Xi'an dialect I'm used to by now. Sigh!

The day after we reached Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, I went to Zetong County (15th-16th July, 2005) to visit one of my students and stayed there for two days. After coming back to Chengdu, we left for Jiuzhaigou Valley with my friend J, his father and two of their family friends from Guangdong Province in the morning of 17th July. Another reason for their visit was to see off J as he was to leave for America the following month to study there. (That was two years back, now having finished his studies; he's got a good job in the US).

We joined a Chinese tour group and took more than 12 hours by bus to reach Jiuzhaigou. It took us longer than usual as we were blocked by a landslide for more than 2 hours. We then took a detour in an old and deserted road which is not just unleveled but had to zigzag through places where there are no roads at all. Several times the bus careened dangerously to one side that I thought we weren't going to make it. But to my relief, no ill-incident befell us and we reached our destination safely at about 7:30 pm.

I was supposed to share a room with other Chinese women. Fortunately, the tour guide noticing that I'm a foreigner arranged a separate room for me. I was very thankful as we were to spend three nights there and I wasn't exactly eager to share a room with total strangers. It was colder than anticipated and was drizzling most of the time we were there. The next morning, we headed for the main attraction - Jiuzhaigou.

Most of the scenic spots in Jiuzhaigou are scattered in a Y-shaped valley. The highest mountain peaks in Jiuzhaigou are at an elevation of 3500-4500m above sea-level. The main attraction are the natural beauty with tranquil lakes, swift waterfalls, springs, the snow mountain ridges and it's geological structure with karst sedimentations.

It took quite a while for our tour guide to get the tickets. Being one of the most popular tourist spots in China, there were thousands of visitors. Appareantly, there are about a million inland and foreign visitors thronging this place every year. Once we got the tickets we could wander off on our own, which I much preferred to being shoved around by tour guides taking us to places we're not interested in with limited time. I've experienced such tours before and didn't exactly enjoy it. I was indeed grateful to be able to tour the place on our own.

Upon entering the scenic area, we soon came to an eye-catching group of exquisite, crystal clear ponds. We could actually see the bottom of the lake and the fish swimming in it. There were many lush green trees. I'm told that in spring, the leaves changes to different luxuriant colors to enhance their glamour even more. The ponds are surprisingly crystal clear and we can see the reflection of trees, mountains, clouds and sky, which is a pleasant feast to the eyes.

Before going to Jiuzhaigou, I was shown different pictures of the amazingly blue and clear waters. I expressed my doubtfulness to find such clear blue waters and tranquil places and thought that the pictures must have been edited/altered to attract more tourists. However on reaching the spot and having seen for myself the beauty and serenity of the place, I took back my word. I couldn't help but feel that this place is like a paradise, and hence aptly known as the 'Fairy Land on Earth' by the Chinese. It turns out to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. It's truly breath-taking!

On the second day, we went to Huanglong about 42 Kms away from the entry to Jiuzhaigou. Because of the high altitude, cans of oxygen were sold at various intervals for people who gets altitude sickness. I for one didn't think needed it only to realize much later, that I was affected too :) I had a mild headache while walking up towards the multi-colored pool, our final destination. Thinking it to be one of those random headaches I tend to have before, I thought it most unfortunate to have one just when we were on our way to see the most important and beautiful spot. Little did I realize then, that I was at an altitude of about 3500 meters above sea level!

One thing I'd like to mention is that some of the people using the can of oxygen continued to smoke! They would inhale the oxygen and then smoke repeatedly. I wondered how they managed to do that :P There were also some litters, a chair carried on a pole by two bearers, made available for a certain sum of money. People who took these litters were rushed up and down which is quite annoying as the road is way too small to accommodate both the bearers and the tourists. With us making our way up, tired and feeling uneasy with altitude sickness, it's quite unpleasant to have to constantly give way to these sometimes rude and pushy litter bearers. Not to mention hoards of travelers going up and others coming down.

After a while, we had to walk on narrow wooden planks. Even an attempt to stop and take pictures for a while is next to impossible with hundreds of people jostling behind me. To stick with my other friends also became very difficult at this point because of the crowd. Since there is only one way, I knew that I could soon catch up again with my friends. So I took my time in enjoying the beauty of the scenery in leisure and in taking photos.

We finally reached a Taoist temple and behind that is the multi-colored pool. I was immediately enchanted with the ethereal beauty of the clusters of tufa formation. It was strewn with gold colored limestone deposit and seems to give a myriad of different hues to the water. Its beauty is beyond mere words. I guess one needs to see it in person to truly appreciate this wondrous 'Fairy Land on Earth'.

13 comments:

  1. Uaseeee...Jiuzhaigou hi China rama,scenery mawi lamah chuan ka kal chakna ber a ni.I lo va kal tawh bik a ni mawww..a ngal chak thlak hle mai :PP

    Thlalak pawh mawi hlawm hle mai maww..
    Aw,Lei Eden,Van ram tlafual...tih vawng vawng chakawm mai aaa..:D

    Ransa leh sava lam te awm em?

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  2. Seki, ngal fip chinah hi chuan ee...kan vak zung2 mai anih hi :P
    Panda, golden monkey leh swan (migratory bird)vel chu khoi lai laiah emaw chuan a awm a, mahse ka hmu ve lem lo.An omna hmun kan thlenglo poh ani mahna...ransa melhin ka melh lo bok pakhat a..kal ngei2 na chi mole :)

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  3. nawm hmel bik ve a . ---- the photographer is too good with her angles??? or the writer writes too good???? :D

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  4. No, its mnowluck who is too good in charming women :-P

    Dear Jinxte, Chinese ho pawh an mahni ramah an lo tour ve thin tho elaw? *GRIN*

    Nuam hmel leh khawp mai, ka kal ve chak.

    Seki an ransa a rawn zawh na chhan ber chu, ui a awm nge awm lo a hre duh a nih kha, lo chhang reng reng suh! :)

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  5. @mnowluck: ...OR the commenter is very kind *_*

    @Illusionaire: mnowluck hi chu a zei ru riau ania....hehehe

    Oiii,zin intihhmuh tehreng mai...nakinah phei chuan train chu sawiloh...'paidal' a kal ala ngai hial ang..lolz

    Chuan momz,soi tui toh ania..:)
    Seki a vahchhuahpui chu mom...kawng sira ui chhete te te hi a melh zuk2 zel..ilo hriat ve mai2 atan..hahaha

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  6. lol@jinx and illusionaire: Min bawl ru min bawl ru.. I'll turn a deaf ear.. atleast pretend.. hahah

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  7. Ekhai mnow-te,kan bawl phal re re lo che....compliment pe zok che alom...:)

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  8. What a beautiful travelogue and pictures...thanks for sharing...

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  9. @Shahnaz: Thnx for dropping in. I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. Hope to see more of you :)

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  10. Uisthoh!Ilo luh mial a. Hei tumloh deuhin i hnung ka zui a (buai vangin),keipoh net ka khoih khat khups mai tunlai chu :)

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  11. Interesting Narrative,nice blog

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  12. @Tluanga: Thnx. Do drop in often :)

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