Danny's Travel Diary in China 4 - |Day11 to Day15|

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Danny's Travel Diary in China 4

Day 11: On our way to Lijiang (4 July 2009)
We woke up early, so there was plenty of time to pack our stuff. Too bad we have to say
goodbye to this nice little city after only one night. I wished I stayed longer in this city, but
maybe that’s an idea for next time. We enjoyed our tasteful breakfast for the last time,
before we checked out and get into the minibus.
There we went on our way to Lijiang. We drove to the north passing the Er Hai Lake at
our right hand. After some 30 minutes later, we arrived at the city named Xizhou. This
city is famous because of the many unique buildings in Bai style. Here we planned a visit
to a huge courtyard house, but we were not allowed to get into city. There was a real
traffic jam of tourist busses and horse carriages at the entrance to the city. Our guide
went outside to ask a policeman what the reason is for this delay. It seems that there
was an exam going on at a school nearby. It was strictly prohibit making noise or using
the claxon. Although it was really crowded here, it was very quiet in the street indeed.
My country could take an example of this behavior. Just before I went on holiday I read
in a newspaper that students, who did exam, complain about the loud noise near their
classrooms. It seems that it is very difficult in my country to have consideration with
other people. I don’t mind to wait just fifteen minutes at all.
While waiting, I went outside and walk around for a bit. Just the corner of this city is
already fascinating. The houses were not tall and are all painted white with grey and
blue decorations. In front of the houses is a wide pond with rocks, lotus flowers and a
beautiful bridge. I was still busy shooting some pictures, when the guide was calling me.
The exam was finished and we could enter the city. It was just a couple of hundreds
meters further, before we stopped at the two storied courtyard. Together with a large
group of Chinese tourists we entered the building through a wonderful decorated
archway. It surprised me how huge the building is from the inside. There are three
courtyards with plants and water gardens. The rooms are at the three sides of each
courtyard.
Our guide showed us the way upstairs and there he gave explanation about the house
and the former owners. After his explanation there was time to explore the house on our
own. The woman went there own way, while I tried to see as much as possible in the
short time we had. In one room I saw old pictures from the owners. They were rich
landowners, but during t he cultural revolution they were removed from this house and
all the furniture and paintings were destroyed. It must be a terrible time to live in China at
that time.


                                            Courtyard house near Dali

The house looked like a labyrinth and I almost lost my way to find the entrance. I was
almost too late for the traditional show. People of the Bai minority showed their beautiful
clothes, while dancing on traditional music and performing several ceremonies. One
ceremony was the wedding ceremony. It was (is) custom to pinch the bride in the butt
during the honeymoon. That looked very painful. During the whole performance we
could taste three different kinds of tea. The first one tasted very bitter, almost like a
medicine. The second tasted better and tasted like nuts and honey. The last tea tasted
like cinnamon and ginger. The three different taste of tea, represent the live of a human
being.
After the show we went into our bus and drove further to the north. I wished there was
more time to explore the city, but we still had a busy day in the program. After another
30 minutes driving we stopped at the town Zhoucheng. Here we visited a “Tied Cloth
Work Shop. The end product looked similar to the batik clothed and fabric as in
Indonesia. But the way they make it here is totally different. First the fabric is tied in
many small knots according to a pattern. This takes a lot of time. After the women are
finished with it, the fabric is painted in a huge indigo paint bath. After the fabric is dry, all
the knots can be removed and a beautiful pattern appears. It is really wonderful, but also
very expensive. After the guide showed us everything we went outside and said
goodbye to our guide. He is not joining us to Lijiang, but he will return to Dali. That’s a
pity, because he was the best guide in whole China.
Luckily our driver stayed with us and brought us further to Lijiang. It was still two hours
driving over a good road with beautiful views and hairpins. In the meantime I enjoyed
some music from my MP3 player. Suddenly our driver stopped at a crossroad. It turned
out that we already arrived in Lijiang. I didn’t expect it and quickly I had to collect my
belongings. Our new guide Elena looked like she was in a bad mood. Maybe she had to
wait too long for us? She walked to the old part of the city very fast, while we had to
carry our entire luggage.While we walked behind her, she maundered very softly and I
could hardly hear what she was talking about. Maybe the volume of the MP3 player was
too loud that I couldn’t hear her anymore.
We arrived at a large square with a lot of nice old houses. We went into a small
cobblestone street full of restaurants and souvenirs shops. Suddenly we went into a
building and stopped at a lobby. I was happily surprised, because I expected a large ugly
hotel. This hotel looked really cozy. After we got our key we walked into a small corridor
that ended near a courtyard. Here was our room. We had about one hour to relax and
refresh ourselves.
It was already two o’clock in the afternoon and we were a bit hungry. So exactly on time
we were waiting for our guide at the lobby. But there was no guide to see in the
neighborhood. After fifteen minutes waiting she finally arrived. Together we walked to
our restaurant, while passing nice old streets and small rivers. This city already looks
nice. Our lunch was OK, but not very special.
After lunch we walked out of the old town and walked to the Black Dragon Pool. The
path went across a cheerful stream. On our way our guide explained about the culture
and history of the surrounding. It seems that her bad mood, was gone, but still I found
here weird. In my opinion she looked like a free-floating hippy. She doesn’t like loud
music and all the garbage she found on our way, she put in the recycle bins. Of course I
didn’t mind that. I give her my respect for it. After walking for half an hour, we arrived at
the Black Dragon Pool. This spot was so wonderful, that it could come from a tourist
brochure. In the middle of the pool is a small temple with a large arched bridge. At one
side behind the pool there was a green hill, while at the other side we saw the summits
of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains. Their summits reach heights of more than 5500
meter. At this moment there was no snow anymore. The last ten years there is no snow
anymore on the summer, because of global warming.


                                         Black Dragon Pool at Lijiang

We walked around the pool and reached a small square where people of the Naxi
minority were playing very old traditional music. A little bit further old man sitting around
a stone table and playing Mahjong. Everything went very relaxed in this town. At the
north part of the pool is the Naxi Dongba Culture museum. A guide from t he museum
showed us around and explaining more about the Naxi culture. The Naxi’s have a very
unique writing of pictograms. It is the only hieroglyph language still in use. The Naxi’s
have their origin in Tibet. Lijiang is lying at the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. The
museum has some interesting artifacts, but after such a long day it really couldn’t get my
proper attention. Inside the museum there was also a shaman who is studying the old
language. Outside the museum our guide asked us, whether we want to walk back or
drive back by car. To my big surprise my mother in law wished to walk back to our hotel,
instead of using the car. I admire that, because the area is so beautiful. Our guide
showed her appreciation also.
Back at the hotel the women decided to relax at bed. Since it was still light outside, I
decided to explore the old city. Armed with a bag full of water and a small map, I walked
from one street to the other. The streets were so small and went all ways but straight, I
went to the wrong place. My first aim was the residential house of the family Mu. Sadly I
was already too late, it was closed. I decided to go to the Lion Hill. Of course I walked
the wrong way again. But after I just walked behind a group of tourist, I find the path to
the top of the Lion Hill. At the summit of the hill there is a 22 meter high building called
Wangu Lou Pavilion. My T-shirt was already wet from my sweat when I finally reached
the summit of the building. Here I enjoyed the wonderful view over the old and new part
of Lijiang.
I took a different way downstairs, where there was another viewpoint. From here there
was a nice view over all the old roofs of Lijiang, while the sun went down. Suddenly I
thought that it should be time to go to the exit, before the gate was closed. First I tried a
shortcut, but they all connected to the same way. I really had to go up first again and
then take the normal way down. On my way down I saw an old man walking towards me.
When he saw me, he stopped and turned around and went also downstairs. It turned out
to be the guy behind the cash desk. The gate was locked indeed and now he had to
open it again for me. I feel a bit ashamed, but I was also happy that I took my time to
enjoy the view.


                                                           Old town Lijiang

Following the small touristy streets I went into town and arrived at the market square. It
was full of tourists and Naxi women with their blue clothes. Not far away I saw a nice
street along a small stream with nice bars. I still had one hour left before diner, so I took
my time to get a cold beer. Everywhere I hear loud music from the bars. At one bar I saw
a stage where people were dancing in traditional clothes. I liked the music and the
atmosphere fell alright, so I enter the bar. The price of beer was a bit expensive (about 3
euro for a bottle), but it didn’t taste anything less. On every table there were pieces of
wood. Customers could use it for hitting on the table with the rhythm of the music. I felt
pity that I sad here all alone, because it was really nice here. After dinner I would try to
persuade my wife to join me.
When it became dark, I went back to the hotel. All the red lanterns in the town were
switched on. This gave it a very authentic atmosphere. There was still time for me to
shower and change clothes, before our guide brought us to the restaurant. We sat at the
first floor with view on the street outside. We got several dishes which looked good. But
sadly they used too much salt which spoiled the taste. At least it feed well and the beer
tasted good again.
During dinner I asked Wulan to join me for a walk and a beer. My mother in law was
already sleepy, so she went back to the hotel. Together we walked through the small
joyful streets to the street with the bars. When we almost arrived, Wulan wanted to go
back to the hotel. She was also tired. That was a real bummer, because this was also
the last evening in town. I brought her back to the hotel and decided to go back on my
own. This turned out to be a big mistake. I went back to the same bar from the
afternoon. Now it was really packed with Chinese tourists. A guy that exactly looked like
Jacky Chan was doing a performance. Everyone was laughing and having a good time,
but I didn’t understand anything. After finishing my beer, I went to the bar next door.
There was live music and a good atmosphere again. But just when I got my beer, the
artists stopped playing and they started a loud techno dance party. I just looked for a
while, but it was disgusting to see 20 men dancing around the only girl on the dance
floor. Quickly I emptied my bottle of beer and went back to our hotel. There I fell asleep
very deeply.

Day 12: Tiger Leaping Gorge (5 July 2009)
It was raining cats and dogs when I looked out the window in the morning. I wasn’t
happy with it, because it could mean that our excursion of today could be canceled. We
found out soon during breakfast. Our nice guesthouse didn’t have an own restaurant, so
we had our breakfast at a nice restaurant at the other side of the street. We were the
only guest, but the service and the breakfast were good. Our meal consist of a typical
backpackers breakfast, like pancakes, yoghurt with muesli, fried egg and fruit juice.
When we just finished our breakfast Helena arrived. Protected by umbrella’s we walked
through the rain to our minibus. It seems that we will give it a try and hopefully the rain
will stop when we arrive. Our minibus drove to the north. According to our program we
would first visit the village Shigu. There is a beautiful view over the first bend of the
famous Yangtze River. But Helena told us that it wasn’t worth to visit it, because the bad
weather and the many tourists. Instead of that we would visit a better place later that
day. As credulous as we were, we agreed. No one would like to get out of the minibus at
this time, when it was still raining hard.
We directly drove to our main target:” Tiger Leaping Gorge”. It took about 2 hours driving
over small but good roads. Sometime we drove high in the mountains, while the clouds
surrounded us. It surprised me that the Chinese people don’t use the fog lamp, but they
use the hazard warning lights. I have to admit that those lights are better to see during
the fog than a “half break light”. Helena warned us that normally the entranced to the
gorge is closed during bad weather. This is due to possible landslides and falling rocks.
Hopefully we didn’t drive for nothing.
Luckily the weather gets better when we arrived. We parked the minibus at a small
market and a restaurant. After refreshment at the toilet we walked to the entrance. Our
guide paid the entrance and then we walked over a small path along the Yangtze River.
At this spot the Yangtze flows still slowly through the mountains. Along the way a
Chinese man passed us, while greeting us in Indonesian language as well as in Dutch.
We were very surprised. He must have a head of languages. He could speak Dutch
better than I speak Chinese. But that’s not that difficult.
Helena was very talkative today and even made some jokes. That made it even a more
pleasant walk along the river. Several times security people remind us to stay close to
the mountainside. Sometime it happens that a small rock will fall down high from the
mountain. You really don’t want to head such a rock. The further we walked the smaller
the gorge went and the flow of the river became faster. At some places pieces of
mountain were cut away to make the path get through. Some look like the teeth of a
shark. That was a bit scary to pass.
We passed a place at the other side of the river, where a landslide happened not so long
ago. Rocks and grit went down in the river, which made the river narrower. Higher up the
mountain we could see a small road where busloads of tourist still drive. It is a scary
thought that a landslide happen again, where those busses will disappear in the swirling
water. Luckily that didn’t happen. To improve the safety there were tunnels dug out in
the mountains. Now we could walk safely without any falling rocks will destroy our
holiday. But I already saw some cracks in the walls. Maybe this will cost some lives
during an earthquake. The disadvantage of walking in a tunnel is that you can’t see
anything from the river and the gorge. But like always, the best is saved for last.
When we just walked outside the last tunnel, we saw to our big surprise that the river
was only 30 meters wide, while the rising mountains had heights up to 3900 meters. The
water of the river pushed heavily through this small part of the gorge. There is a legend
of this gorge. It’s about a tiger that is trying to escape from a hunter. With one jump the
tiger went to the other side of the gorge and escaping from the hunter. I doubt if a tiger
really can jump so far. But the sight is really impressive. As a reminder of the legend
there is a tiger carved out of the stone.
In the surroundings there are several waterfalls and because of the heavy rain last night,
a lot of water roars downwards. It was really spectacular.We went down by a steep and
slippery stairway closer to the River. Helena stayed behind. She told us afterwards that
she was frightened to go downstairs. One year ago a guide was fallen in the river. They
found her dead only a couple of days later. Luckily we didn’t know that when we walked
downstairs.


                                               Tiger Leaping Gorge

Downstairs the sound was really deafening. From very close distance we saw the
enormous mass of water squeezed through this small part. Of course we could shoot
many beautiful pictures. But it was really cold and wet, so after a while we went upstairs
and walked the same way back to our minibus. When we passed the exit, it just started
to rain again. We really had a lot of luck that we didn’t have any rain when we were
outside. At the restaurant near the park lot we had our lunch. Again we ate some
delicious mushroom dishes.
On our way back to Lijiang we stopped at the viewpoint as promised. First we had to
squeeze through a lot of souvenir shops, before we get near the viewpoint. The view
was really terrible. For a very far distance we saw the river, but it was never as good as
we had seen before. Disappointed we walked back to the minibus.When we drove
further we were so tired that we all fell asleep.
After some time Helena asked us if we would like to visit a village.We had still plenty of
time, before diner. The entrance price of the village was a bit high and I had a bit of a
strange feeling about it. But Wulan and her mom didn’t want to visit it anyway. There
was only one option left and that is to go back to Lijiang and entertain ourselves. I talk
them into a visit to the same bar in Lijiang as the day before. Hopefully there was dance
again. I warned my mother-in-law for the loud music, but she didn’t mind.
In lijiang we said goodbye to Helena and walked to the bar. Sadly the dancing was
probably only on Saturday afternoon. There was hardly anyone in the bar. Even the staff
was scars. But suddenly the staff from everywhere was climbing the stage and started to
sing some song. Even the cooks were joining. After the song was finished the manager
started to speech for a very long time. I hoped for the staff that this was not happening
everyday. Finally the speech ended and everyone went busy again.
In the meantime I was enjoying my Chinese beer and browsing to our itinerary.
Surprisingly I read that the visit to the village, which Helena suggested as an extra, was
included in our itinerary. I also read in a guidebook that the entrance of the village was
much lower than Helena told us.We all were a bit angry about this. Now I regret that I
forgot to put my itinerary with me during the bus trip. But we couldn’t do anything about it
now.
Sadly the conviviality was far to look for in the bar. Wulan and her mom went away for a
walk and went back to the hotel afterwards. Since we already checked out from our
room, I didn’t see any use to go back to the hotel. It was raining again, so I just stayed in
the bar and enjoyed some more beers. Secretly I hoped that the dance acts soon
started, but that didn’t happen. Slowly I walked back to the hotel. Here we waited
another fifteen minutes for Helena. Together we walked to the next restaurant.
I had a real nice diner, but the women didn’t like it. Probably they were still in a bad
mood that even the most delicious food won’t taste. I just try to forget it and try to enjoy
things as long as possible. During dinner we had to fill in a survey (like always). We
definitely showed our disappointment about the missing excursion. We also decide to
give her a lower tip than usual.
After diner we get our luggage and walked to the minibus and drove to the airport. Along
the way Helena was reading our survey and she was very surprised about our comment.
I showed her our official itinerary and I saw that she was in a shock. She didn’t know
what to do now to solve the problem. After a while she told us that she switched our
itinerary with the one from her next customers. I saw she was deeply ashamed about her
mistake. In the end she asked us if it’s enough to get our money back. We all agreed
and we got a bit money back (about the same as in our guidebook was written). This
confirmed my suspicion that she wanted to cheat. But at the other side, we also were a
bit guilty. We didn’t tell her directly about the mistake. As something in return we
removed the comment from the survey. We could see that she really was moved. But
our tip stayed the same.
At the airport we said goodbye to her and flew with an hour delay to Chengdu. This is
the capital city of Sichuan. Again there was a guide waiting for us. Quickly we drove to
our hotel, because it was almost midnight. Our minibus stopped at a side street. The bus
couldn’t stop in front of our hotel. So we walked with our entire luggage to the hotel. The
street looked very cozy. All the buildings were rebuilt in the old style. It took a bit walking
in the dark, but finally we arrived at the Buddha Zen Hotel. I was surprised about this
nice looking hotel, because originally we should stay in an unattractive but good
business hotel. This hotel looked more authentic and beautiful, so we were happily
surprised. We were very tired and said goodnight to our guide and walked to our room.
Wulan was the first who took a shower and within just a couple of minutes we heard
some glass crashing on the floor. The soap dish made from glass was fallen in
thousands of pieces on the floor. Of course it was just an accident, but Wulan was tired
and in shocked. She asked me to call the lobby and ask for another room. I called them
and tried to explain what happened, but she could directly tell us, that there was no room
available. But she sends someone from the technical staff to clear the room. Finally we
could sleep. In the meantime it was already half past twelve and the next day I had to
wake up at six.

Day 13: To Sichuan Highlands (6 July 2009)
My alarm went off at six o’clock in the morning. Quietly I dressed and washed myself.
Wulan and her mom stayed this morning at the hotel, while I planned a visit to the Taoist
temple in Chengdu. Downstairs I took a simple breakfast at the restaurant. It tasted
good. Our guide and the tour operator from our travel agent arrived and joined me at
their breakfast.
When everyone finished their breakfast, we drove with our minibus to the temple. But
first we went to the bank. There I had to clear the balance of our journey to our tour
operator. The total amount of money for three people that I had to pay was a lot of
money. You can buy a nice old car for it. Of course I didn’t have so much money in cash
with me. Before our journey to China I already changed the money in traveler’s cheque.
For more than twelve days I had to carry around with these papers and I was glad to get
rid of them in a normal way. Our bus stopped at a luxurious hotel. Inside this hotel was
also a department of the Bank of China. It was the only department which was already
open on Mondays at half past eight. There I walked, dressed like a simple backpacker in
an expensive hotel full of business people. The manager of the travel agent was also at
the bank. That was quite a heavy delegation. Unfortunately we were still too early, but
we could relax for a while and drink some water. After a while someone helped us and I
started to fill in some papers. I only had cheques with a value of 100,- and 200,-. So it
took some time to sign all the traveler cheques. After that everything was checked,
double checked and once more checked. It really got on my nerves. After filling in even
more papers I thought we were finished. But then the bank employer asked me for a
proof of purchase. Uh-oh…. Where did I put those stupid papers? I got warm all over my
body. Then I remember that I put them in a secret pocket in my small backpack. But that
bag is still in the bus. Quickly we went outside to look for the bus, but the driver was
gone. Our guide called the driver on the phone and soon the bus was back. I took my
bag with the papers and gave it to the bank employer. Finally after one hour everything
was okay and said goodbye to the manager and the tour operator.


                                              Taoist temple

Together with our guide we drove to the QingYang Gong Taoist Temple. It’s one of the
most important Taoist temples of China. I am very interested in the Taoism philosophy,
so I was curious about this temple. Together we walked from building to building. The
guide gave very good explanation over the meaning of the buildings and statues. The
complex was bigger than I actually thought. It’s totally different with other temples that I
visited, which were mostly Buddhist temples. Our guide also told me that the famous
Taoist philosopher Laozi was born here. There are beautiful gardens and the smells of
the flowers were lovely. Sadly we couldn’t enjoy stay too long here. We already lost so
much time this morning and we had a plane to catch in the afternoon. I think we were
only at the temple complex for one hour. Just enough time to explore everything and get
good explanation. But it was a bit in a rush and that’s so contradictorily to the Taoism
thinking. 无为or Wu Wei, what meant something like action that does not involve
struggle or excessive effort.
With full speed our minibus raced through the streets of Chengdu to our hotel to pick up
the ladies and some luggage. The driver drove like Ho-Pin Tung or Schumacher. Due to
the building of some new subways, we had bad traffic all the time, but somehow the
driver always managed to drive from side street to side street. Sometimes he passed
cars from the left side and other times from the right side. Twice we needed to make an
emergency stop, because we almost hit another car. But happily we arrived safely at our
hotel. While I was playing tourist, the ladies already shifted the most important luggage
into some smaller overnight bags. The rest of the luggage we left behind in the hotel.
After all we returned back in the hotel after a couple of days. Again we drove to the
airport very fast.Without any delay and accidents we arrived at the domestic airport.
Quickly our guide arranged our boarding passes. We still had one and a half hour left
before our plane would depart. The guide told us that we had enough time to have lunch
at the nearby international airport. We went inside a luxurious restaurant and probably
our guide had already ordered the food by mobile phone. We just sat down while the
dished got served. The food was fantastic. Since we thought we only had a short time,
we ate like pigs. We felt pity for ourselves. Our food was OK for the last couple of days,
but not as good as now. But now we couldn’t enjoy it slowly but in a rush. After lunch we
walked back to the domestic airport and went to the gate. The plane was already waiting
and we could almost directly get aboard. I told Wulan that we could relax for the rest of
the day. After the flight we didn’t have any program on our itinerary. I didn’t know at that
time that our plans would change.
Our flight was leaving right on time. After 30 minutes flying we saw high peaks and
grassland outside of the windows. It really looks wonderful. Slowly we descend and we
got some turbulence. My hands were sweating and Wulan squeezed my fingers. I just
fell so small while flying between the high Mountains. After less than one hour we landed
safely at the airport near Songpan. The airport is at the height of 3340 meter. Outside
the small airport were our Tibetan guide and the driver waiting for us.
In this area northwest in Sichuan province lives many Tibetan people. During the next
three days we could enjoy the Tibetan culture and the wonderful nature. According to
our itinerary we firstly would have a day rest to get used to the high attitude. The second
day we would visit the National Park Jiuzhaigou. On our last day we would visit national
park Huanglong on our way back to the airport. Normally it is about two hours driving to
our hotel near Jiuzhaigou. While driving, our guide explained us that we needed to
change our itinerary. Due to maintenance at the roads in the mountains we couldn’t
reach the airport in time when we visit Huanglong Park at the last day. So before driving
to our hotel now, we first visit the park already this day. That was a bit of a shock for me.
It was already three o’clock in the afternoon. This meant we would be at the hotel late in
the evening. No relaxing for us this day.
But the views along the way made us get over our shock quickly. Everywhere we saw
green hills full of grass with stunning views. At some point we drove over a pass at more
than 5000 meter high. The weather was also fantastic. The bluest sky I ever saw, with so
now and then a white cloud. That was much better than the stuffily dirty air at Chengdu.
During the journey we saw our First yaks and Tibetan prayer flags. The road winds
though some serious hairpins. That was nothing for my father who has fear of heights.
Sometimes the road was temporarily blocked, due to the road maintenance. We had to
wait for some long times before we could drive further.
Finally we arrived at the Huanglong national park. Our guide bought some tickets, while
we went to the toilets. Huanglong is about 8 kilometer long and with a 300 meter
difference in height. That means a lot of climbing to get to the summit. The path went
through dense forest over wooden planks that didn’t touch the earth. After a short
distance we saw the first of many steps. Since we were already at a height of more than
3000 meters we suffer from the thin air. We walked more slowly and took more breaks.
Then we reached the first spectacular calcium carbonate terraces. It looked like a
waterfall with many stages of ponds colored from green to turquoise blue.We took a
longer break to enjoy this wonderful spot.
When we walked further we passed some oxygen bars. People who suffer from attitude
decease could get some free oxygen here. Some little further we passed a wonderful
wide waterfall, followed by a steep stairway along a rapid with golden sand. This is a
wide brown slide like a back of a crocodile. The water went down over scales. The stairs
were to exhausting for my mother-in-law. The three ladies stayed at some rest point with
nice views, while I walked a quickly further. At the top of the slide were more little
colored ponds. But it was already too late to go further to the top, where the bigger and
more spectacular ponds were. It was already half past five and we had to walk back the
same way. With lots of regret I said farewell to the top and walked downwards. There I
met the ladies and with the all of us we slowly went to the exit. There I discovered that
we also could go upstairs by chairlift. I was surprised that we didn’t take that one. Than
we didn’t had to miss anything and it was much easier for the ladies just to walk down
from the top. Surely I will remember this. I really want to go back here one time in my life
and stay here for a whole day.


                                Huanglong National Park

It wasn’t dark yet when we returned back on the road to our hotel. The journey was
again very wonderful, but sadly there were a lot of roadblocks due to the road
maintenance. Every time we had to wait for a long time, before we could drive further. At
some places we drove so high that we were surrounded by clouds. Because of the fog
we couldn’t see anything, not even the abyss. Maybe that was for my father a good sign,
but I didn’t like it at all. Quickly it started to get dark. Although we passed many curves,
we all fell asleep. But the last part was really a disaster. From one hairpin to the other we
drove. Probably our driver liked to try to take the curves as fast as possible. Soon
everyone was awake and get dizzy.
Finally we arrived at the hotel at eight o’clock. Before we could go to our rooms, we had
to take diner. That was for my mother-in-law not a good moment. Before we got our first
dishes she was already hugging the toilet. She didn’t feel well after the last part of the
trip. We all decided to drink a lot of tea first before we start to take our diner. Maybe it
was because our sickness or tiredness, but this diner was the worst from our whole
journey up to this day. After dinner the guide brought us our room keys and gave us
some explanation. Our rooms were in a nearby building next to the restaurant. Directly
we went to our rooms. The rooms were really huge. I think each room has the same
surface area as twice as two row houses. There were two bedrooms, a living room with
a kitchen and a shower. It was too big for normal use, but the beds were outstanding.
After showering everyone went asleep. The next day we would spend in the nature
again. I hoped everyone would be fit and relaxed again the next day.

Day 14: National Park Jiuzhaigou (7 July 2009)
Today we finally went to the park, where we all were looking forward to it. I also was a bit
skeptic. Before our journey I had read at the internet that this park is so crowded, that it
would be impossible to enjoy it. The day before our guide told us that we would leave a
bit later. The reason was that most tourist than already swarmed all over the park,
instead of gathering all together. First I thought it was not a good idea. To my opinion it
was better to leave as early as possible, so we would be the first to be as far as
possible, before the crowd arrived. I just shrugged my shoulders and try not to make it a
big thing. We just would see.
At eight o’clock we awoke and 30 minutes later we went to an almost empty restaurant.
The breakfast was a buffet. There was no bread, but only rice and some other distasteful
dishes. So I only took a little bit of Chow Mein to have at least something in my stomach.
Hopefully the lunch would be better. Soon we all finished our breakfast and we walked to
the lobby of the hotel. Our guide just entered the hotel.With the four of us we took a taxi
and drove to the park. It was not even ten minutes driving, but it saved us some painful
feet. We had a full day of walking ahead of us. One day before our guide advised us to
enjoy a Tibetan evening dance show or to visit with other tourists a special Tibetan
village to enjoy Tibetan BBQ and drinks, while sitting around a campfire. The last option
sounded fun to me, but sadly the ladies didn’t want to go. To go there on my own, didn’t
sound fun to me also. Instead I heard some good recommendation of the Tibetan dance
show. So I decided to go there on my own. Sadly this show was already sold out this
morning. I made up my mind too late. I fed up to my back teeth. I didn’t like the idea of a
boring evening.
Our guide told us to wait at a big hall near to the ticket office. In this hall there were
enormous pictures from the park during the four seasons. It all looked very beautiful. I
hoped I could make such pictures too. After a short while, our guide came back and
hand out our tickets. Together we walked to a bus stop. Electric busses drive to most
area’s in the park. Other transport wasn’t allowed to drive in the park. We squeezed
ourselves together with mostly Chinese tourist in the bus until it was full. The roads in
the park looked like an upside-down “Y”.We started at the north direction and drove
south and turned to the left at the fork. We almost drove to the end of the road. Along the
way we passed lots of lakes, Tibetan villages and wonderful waterfalls. Sadly the bus
drove too fast to make good pictures.
We stopped at the bus stop next to the Arrow Bamboo Lake. We went out and walked
over wooden planks along the beautiful lake. In the lake grows the rare Arrow Bamboo.
That’s the one of the most important food for the Giant panda’s. At this lake a part of the
famous movie Hero was filmed with a fight with Jet Li.
We walked in the direction that our bus came from in the direction of the next lake called
Panda Lake. From the viewpoint we had a more beautiful sight, but it was crowded
indeed. The turquoise colored lake was surrounded with green hills overgrown with pine
trees. So now and then I was pushed away. Chinese tourists wanted to make pictures of
them while dressed in Tibetan clothes. What a rude behavior, I thought. I didn’t like it at
all. The best to deal with it was just to act like the Chinese tourists and that helped. After
long hesitating, Wulan decided that she also want to make a picture of herself dressed in
Tibetan clothes. The clothes were very beautiful, but also too big for Wulan. We laughed
about the silly view. But we made wonderful pictures.

From the panda lake we followed downstairs to view the Panda Waterfall. It wasn’t that
special and quickly we went back.We were just afraid that we would miss the most
beautiful parts again. With the bus we drove to the next attraction. In the bus I spoke
with a Chinese student who went on holiday with his parents. He joked that it is a
wonderful park, but a shame that there are so many Chinese people. I agreed with him,
but I must admit that it wasn’t that crowded as I thought. Of course it wasn’t possible to
enjoy the peaceful rest in the park, like I was used to in the forest in my country. But still
there was plenty of space to shoot some nice pictures, without the crowd standing in the
way.
The next stop was the Peacock Riverbed and the five flower lake. This lake looked like a
peacock, but you could only recognize the shape from a plane. Due to the calcium
carbonate the water of the lake is colored bright blue.With the surrounding green hills
and the trees in the water, this place looked like a place in a fairy tail. Here we stayed for
a while. Our cameras clicked many times.
After a while we drove further by bus to the Pearl Shoals. Over wooden planks we
crossed a slow inclining waterfall of about 100 meters wide. The water is flowing slowly
over a bumping road. It looked like a pearl necklace was broken and all the pearls fell
over the floor downwards. It was a unique sight. Further downwards the pearls fell 40
meters down at the Pearl Shoals Waterfall. At a small and enormous crowded stairs we
went to the bottom of the waterfall. At the stairs I met the funny but friendly Chinese boy
from the bus again. From the stairs we had a very beautiful view. It is said that this is the
most pictured waterfall from this park. No wonder many people shoot their wedding
photo’s here. Finally we were at the feet of the waterfall and fell relieved by the space we
had now. The temperature was increasing with made it a warm day. But a fine spray
from the waterfall cooled our warm bodies. After shooting many pictures we climbed
back to the top. It was a tough climb and it reminds us that we were still at high heights,
or do I have such a bad shape?

With the bus we drove back to the junction of roads and get off. In an enormous
restaurant we got another buffet. There was plenty of choice and the food was delicious.
Our hungry feeling from our bad breakfast went away during this tasteful and plentiful
lunch. Moreover a woman brought me a fine pint of ice-cold beer. This completed the
meal. After the magnificent lunch and the welcoming toilet stop we went down to search
our guide. She was already waiting for us and we went to our next bus. This time we
drove to the right direction of the junction. It was almost 30 minutes driving, but because
of all the food we fell asleep.
Brutally we got awake, because our heads were hitting the windows hard. The road
winded through the hills and mountains. At the end of the road we get off the bus to see
the Long Lake. The lake is at 3100 meters height. Indeed the lake is very long and huge,
but it was not that spectacular. We already see so many beautiful sights that this sight
was a bit disappointing. It just looked we were in Austria of Suisse. We didn’t stay here
long and drove back downwards to the next lake.
We walked over a small forest trail and climbed down over some stairs to reach the five
colored pool. This small pond lived up to its name. The color of the water contained
several tints of blue. It was stunning and actually it was reasonable quiet. It was the first
place where we could sit for a while and enjoy the view. Another small forest trail leads
us to the next bus stop. We never had to wait long before the bus arrived. We drove
back to the junction stopping just one more time at the Upper seasonal lake. We only
stayed here till the next bus arrived because this lake looked just like all the others. I
think we were getting spoiled.

Near the junction we paid a visit to the Nuorilang Waterfall. In the morning we already
passed this waterfall by bus from a high position and that was really spectacular. Sadly it
wasn’t possible to make pictures from there. It wasn’t the height of the waterfall, but the
enormous width of 320 meters. Now we walked at the bottom of the waterfall and it
wasn’t that spectacular anymore. In spite of this it was nice to walk around. A forest trail
leads us to another huge lake called Rhinoceros Lake, where we took the bus again.
Near Shuzheng Lake is also the Tibetan village called Suzheng. It is one of the nine
Tibetan villages that are in the valley. The name “jiuzhaigou” meant literally “nine village
valley”. We saw typical Tibetan prayer wheels, prayer flags and Tibetan monks. It all
would be perfect when this village was mainly oriented for tourism. All the houses are
souvenir shops and coffee bars. Luckily there was no loud pop music and drunken
people. Anyway we enjoyed ourselves and bought some souvenirs.
Before going to the exit of this beautiful park we visit one more lake. I can advise anyone
to visit this (In Holland rarely known) spectacular park and stay for a couple of days.
People who prefer to walk more instead of taking the bus can enjoy themselves too.
There are many walking trails where you can walk without seeing any other tourist, but
than you have to stay near the park for a couple of days. Sleeping in the park is not
possible.
Back at the hotel we took a shower and dressed ourselves in fresh clean clothes. Then
we went into the restaurant for dinner. Because of our complaints our guide arranged
that we would have some other dishes. Indeed our dished were much better than the
evening before. Even my mother-in-law wasn’t complaining. After dinner the ladies went
back to their room, while I explored the surroundings. I read something that there was a
place for massage. I never had Tibetan massage before and I was curious about it. At
the huge area of the hotel I followed the arrows until I was standing in front of a bar. With
the gesticulation and speaking English, I tried to make myself clear that I was looking for
massage. Some other employers from the bar joined and were looking strange to me. I
understand that they couldn’t help me anyway further.
When I asked for beer, they understand clearly and showed me the way into the bar.
Beside one local couple, there were no other people around. The waiter showed me a
couch near a Karaoke screen. The waiter got me a bottle of beer with a very tiny shot
glass and fills the glass. After two tiny draughts my glass was empty. Directly the waiter
came back to fill my glass again. I had to laugh in myself. The waiter will have a busy
evening filling always my glass. I wonder if they helped everyone like this. At the
Karaoke screen there was Chinese pop music. It was fun to watch it. But suddenly they
changed the Music in western pop Music. Probably they think that I prefer that over
Chinese pop music. After the Beatles came a half concert of Jazz music. I like most
kinds of music, but I really can’t stand Jazz music. It’s just a disordered collection of
sounds. In the meantime I asked for my second bottle of beer. I made a game of it to fill
my glass myself than that the waiter could come. After three bottles I had enough of it
and paid my bill and returned to my room. The ladies were already snoring in coma. In
fact the evening was the same boring as to watch Chinese TV. At least I could drink
something now. Till up this moment I fed up that I couldn’t really enjoy the Tibetan
culture.

Day 15: Back to Chengdu (8 July 2009)
After all these tiring days it was welcome to get up late. As late as possible we went to
the restaurant to have some breakfast. It was the same distasteful as the day before, so
I only ate some Chow Mein and some fruit again. Back at the room we rearranged our
luggage a bit. With plenty of time to spare, we watched a movie about Bruce Lee.
Slowly the time passed and I just fell more tired than last days. Finally it was almost
noon and time to check out from the hotel. Sadly we had to wait for a while before our
guide appeared. But then finally we could leave for the airport. I couldn’t stand to do
nothing the whole morning, but to stay at our room. In the neighborhood of the hotel,
there was also nothing to do.
Halfway we stopped at a small wayside restaurant. Here we ate a very nice lunch. One
meal was made of sweet corn and that was really magnificent. After lunch we drove
further over the winding road. This time Wulan and her mom prepared themselves. In
the morning they ate medicine against carsickness. Faster than we thought we arrived
at the airport. This time I was the one that was a bit dizzy. That was probably due to the
height and tiredness.
Our guide helped us checking in and then we said farewell. My mother-in-law quickly
passed the customs, while I gave the guide her tip. Thereby a Chinese woman with her
daughter could sneak ahead. Wulan and I get back in the queue behind that woman.
Probably something was wrong with her papers and the woman became angry and
started to yell. Within seconds a lot of security guards came from everywhere. We
scared to death and slowly we moved a bit backwards from the two. To make matters
worse the young daughter started to cry. In the end the two women were not allowed to
pass and had to leave the queue. We could enter without any problem.
At the departure hall I met the same Chinese student, who we met at Jiuzhaigou Park.
As friendly as he is, he came by to say goodbye. Officially he should fly already, but his
flight was delayed for more than two hours. Another storm was bothering us. Because of
all the delays, our flight was delayed as well. After waiting for another two hours we
could board the plane and fly to Chengdu without any problem.
In Chengdu the same guide as a couple of days ago was waiting for us. Directly we
drove back to our hotel. According to our itinerary we should first visit an authentic
street. Due to the delay we didn’t have time for that anymore, but that was OK for all of
us. In the bus our guide told us a surprise. He had bought tickets for a show of Sichuan
Opera in the evening. That sounds fun for us. But first we drove to the hotel to refresh.
For dinner we had two choices. We could have a traditional Sichuan meal or try the
special Sichuan hotpot. If we choose the later options we had to pay a little bit extra.
Since the Sichuan Opera already was a free gift, no one bother to pay more for a special
dinner.
At the hotel we only had half an hour for three people to get shower. I decided to have a
shower later before I went to bed. I didn’t want to be late and miss another evening
show. Exactly on time we arrived at the lobby and drove to the restaurant. I almost forgot
that our driver was a racecar driver. So we drove from left to right and around. Within
fifteen minutes we arrived at the restaurant.
The restaurant looked a bit like McDonald. But the tables were different. Every table has
a huge hole in the middle. Below that hole is a big gas burner. Above the gas burner
they put a huge pan with in the middle a separate smaller pan. In both pans the waitress
put some water. The different between the middle pan and the outside pan was the
amount of chilies. Citizens of Sichuan like to eat very spicy meals. Normally there are
three levels of spiciness. We choose to have the less spicy water in the outside pan and
the inner pan was no spicy at all. Like usual with hotpots we got a lot of raw meat and
fresh vegetables, which we had to put in the pans. It looked very good and with a brave
heart I started to put the meat and the vegetables in the outside pan. Although we
choose the less spicy variant, I could see clearly many chilies in the water. After I ate my
first spoonful, my face turned red. My tongue and lips were literally on fire. Everyone
had to laugh about my sweaty red head. Even the cold beer couldn’t put out the fire. The
only thing that really helped was the warmish soymilk with sugar. First I didn’t want to
drink it, because I thought I didn’t like it. But that was wrong. It tasted better than the cold
beer. After a while we all got used to the spicy food, although we mixed it with the chili
free soup. This was also the first time that a guide joined us for dinner, but only after we
persuade him.

After a while, our guide told us that we had to finish our diner, otherwise we would miss
the evening show. We had to hurry since the show was already started. Luckily it was
not far from the restaurant. In the meantime it was raining cats and dogs. I hoped the
show was not at an open air theater. But this was the case. Luckily they put a canvas
roof, so the rain didn’t bother us too much.
We only missed the first fifteen minutes, but the best is like always at the end. The place
was full with other tourists so the show wouldn’t be a longwinded show. Normally
Chinese Opera’s can last for hours. This show was made of short pieces, just to give us
an idea. First there was a show with hand puppets, which were dancing on music. Then
there was a short impression of Sichuan Opera with beautiful clothes, but annoying
music. It was nice to see, but I was happy it didn’t take too long. The show that followed
was very impressive. The artist made all kinds of forms of animals and people with his
hands. The shadow was projected at a round white screen. It was really unbelievable the
way he performed. There was also some music and some humorous performances.

But indeed the best was saved for last. The performers wear masks and within one
eyewink they changed the mask. That happens so fast, that you couldn’t see that it was
changed. That was just an amazing show. During this part of the show there was also
dance and flame spitting. It was a nice show and satisfied we returned to our hotel and
fell in a deep sleep.

    Relative Links:
    A Letter from our customer(birding tour)
    Danny's Travel Diary in China 7
    Danny's Travel Diary in China 6
    Danny's Travel Diary in China 5
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