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We were thinking of writing our experience after returning from Sichuan(Chengdu, Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong), but did not make it until recently. Hope this article is useful to your future travelers.
John and I left Beijing with Imagination of the stunning beautiful landscape in west Sichuan. We boarded our plane heading for Chengdu early in the morning. The flight was eventful but the heavy clouds prevent view of the landscape below.
We arrived at Chengdu 2 hours later at about 10:am. As we walked outside the airport, we were met by a group of taxi drivers trying to deliver us a ride. After wheeling and dealing, we followed one of them and got into his car having blind faith. There are three kinds of taxi running through the city and the most common one is the Jetta Car which cost 5 yuan for the first three kilometers and then 1.4 yuan for every additional kilometer.
The Chengdu Dreams Travel International Youth Hostel(tel:028-85570315) was not so good as it's advertised on the internet, a small building with plain facilities. A large board in the wall was filled with posts looking for travel buddy. Close by parked many bikes for rental. Comings and goings of travelers made the not-so-big lobby busier and narrower. We paid 150 yuan for a double-bed room, which definitely wasn't worth 150 yuan. The hotel was heavily booked that night, very strange.
Checked in and unpacked, we strolled out to enjoy the night scenery. John and I each had a bowl of noodle at a street stall only to find the taste strange.
Pedicab passed us frequently as we walked along. The ancient buildings lined along the street make you feel you have stepped back to history. The air was filled with the aroma from restaurants cooking hotpots. Life in Chengdu seems enjoyed at a markedly slower pace than in most Chinese cities, evidenced by the groups of locals hanging around.
We caught a No 21 bus ( 1yuan /p.p) to get to the Xin Nan Men Bus Station and bought two tickets for Jiuzhaigou, 121 yuan each.
The Jinli Street next to the Wuhou Memorial Temple was lit with thousands out enjoying the night scenery. The red lanterns hanging by the old-style building make the street very Chinese. The street was filled with restaurants, bars, art & craft shops selling a mind-boggling variety of trinkets. Skilled artists were busy making clay figurines, cutting paper into various image, painting in rice, etc. We were attracted by a cheering group in front of an outdoor stage. Walking close and see the puppet play ( leather-silhouette), very interesting. We encountered an Australia couple who told us they enjoyed the place very much.
Our bus to Jiuzhaigou started at 7 am. . The drive was long and weary.; We were winding at the mountainous road with sight of autumn foliages covered with mist. The driver stopped midway at a small market for passengers to go to toilet. 0.5 yuan p.p for entering.
We arrived at the Jiuzhaigou Station at 7 pm and our Hotel ( Jiutong Hotel) is located inside the station, very convenient and save a lot of trouble to find it. Manager of the hotel is a very pleasant man, friendly and always ready to help. Be warned there are usually groups of local women following you and trying to take you to a hotel as you walk out the station. To be discerning if you want to follow them. The government do not allow travelers to stay overnight inside the gully for what reason I do not know but the villagers( hotel owners) solicited business secretly. It appeared staying inside the valley in a local Tibetan guest house is a good way to experience local lifestyle. You can taste the local wine, drink the butter tea and may also have dinner with the family. The result of being found probably serious but we have no idea.
John and I walked out the hotel at night enjoying the alpine weather, cool and pleasant. The air was filled with smell from restaurants cooking outside. It is very common throughout China to see small restaurants with coking grills cutting into the wall. The skewers were stacked with ports, chickens, vegetables. Chinese travelers and the locals were sitting around small tables, consuming large quantities of port, chicken, spitting out the bones and unwanted parts on the ground. We had some noodles and vegetables for our dinner only for 18 yuan, very cheap.
(Ticket for the gully is very expensive 310 yuan, 220 yuan for entrance (including all the sights inside) and 90 yuan for sightseeing bus ride.
The Jiuzhaigou(nine village valley) refers to the nine Tibetan villages that can be found in the valley. The region is located at a elevation of 2000-4000 meters above sea level in the northwestern part of Sichuan Province.
The shuttle bus will stop at every attraction. There is one guide in each bus.
We took the sightseeing bus and got off at the Swan Lake and then walked down the way for 2.5 hours. The surreal at this region at this time of year is surreal, the air filled with aroma of flowers and singing of birds. The swan Lake now came into our view, the water as clear and as bright as gemstones. The colorful reflection of fall foliage shimmers in the late. Swarms of small fish and green-headed ducks were playing at lake.
Five-flower Lake is one of the highlights of the whole gulley. Viewed from the Tiger Mouth, the lake looks like a peacock in his pride, showing off visitors her charm.
The Chinese tourist groups following their guides rushed through the area. They may come to only see the area instead of feeling it. We visited the Five-flower Lake, Jianzu Lake( where the film hero was shot), Panda Lake, Reed Lake, Twin-dragon Lake(Shuanglong Lake), Ruorilang Waterfall in a whole day trip. We stayed at around 3 hours at the Reed Lake enjoying the dense of reeds seeping in the water..