After a day's train trip from Xi'an,we were in Chengdu-capital city of Sichuan, right now. We have had just a few crazy days here. I'm wondering if that might be our "China theme song".
Sichuan needed at least a week while we only had four days so we had all the wanted places at the back of our minds beforehand. The places we had on our lists were jiuzaigou national park, which is in the north of Sichuan and holds an array of natural wonders in a y shaped gully with waterfalls, colorful lakes and snowy mountains views; Huanglong another beautiful place with many attractive colored pools, and the Giant pandas.
On arrival in Chengdu, a taxi took us to our pre-booked hotel (on of the many benefits of using a travel agency). The taxi driver was an interesting middle aged man who could speak English very well. A happy conversation lasted until we reached our hotel. The rest of our day we went on a quest for the markets where the locals bought their food. Well, we found a great one in Chengdu. It covered about an entire big city block and seemed to have every possible edible thing in the world. The variety was astounding. The locals buy their fish, chickens, ducks, etc. as fresh as possible, so all of fish, clams, snails, frogs, toads, crabs, and several different kinds of turtles are all alive in the aquariums and other types of containers. They butcher them right there on the spot. A bucket full of chicken head made me feel scared, so I had to close my eyes and get move on to a different area. As I walked further I found fresh stuffs, huge varieties of preserved, salted, and dried meats, from poultry to sausages hung everywhere. We had a great time there as we watched wide-eyed as this unique area hustled and bustles around us.
That evening we tried local hot pot. "Hot pot" fun way of eating involves a pot filled with spiced stock that is used to cook fresh vegetables and meat. You then eat this savory and freshly cooked food with a variety of dipping sauces. We over estimated our spicy food tolerance and put too much pepper into the pot. By the end of the night we both had tongue burns, yet the delicious food was well worth the sacrifice.
We started the next day pretty early for Jiuzhaigou. The journey to Jiuzhaigou was scenic with farm houses and amidst the patch work of golden terraced rice fields with farmers and their children working. It was a long journey and some sections of the road were a little uneventful. We slept most of the time. We arrived at Jiuzhaiguo at about 3 Pm. Jiuzhaigou is a very famous Chinese national park. The first place attracted us was a waterfall which was over 320m wide and the widest in China. It was quite amazing to watch for a while. We then wandered past beautiful lakes, reed lakes and aqua blue rivers before arriving at the second and largest of the Tibetan villages that give the park its name. Here there were lots of Tibetan prayer wheels placed in the river to make them run clockwise. The funniest thing was that we meet several Chinese university students on the park. These sweet young girls were very excited to take pictures with us. Our guide book writes that there are always opportunities to get into conversations with young people because they study English in school and are happy to have someone to speak to. We then had a very enjoyable talk with them.
For the time was late, we overnight at the scenic area. Our Chinese guide declared an early departure for Hunglong the next day. Huanglong is a world famous place with lakes and waterfalls. The park has a route of 4 km up and 4 km down.. For it's the dry season, so many of the lakes and waterfalls were empty. The guide finally led us to the last lake, which was said to be nice. The last one was actually beautiful, even though it wasn't completely full. It was worth the whole thing. Our bus drove us back to Chengdu in the late afternoon.
We spent our final day watching them feeding the pandas at the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base that is located in beautiful botanical gardens just outside Chengdu. Pandas are regarded as the national treasure by the Chinese. The animal was really fun. It was really a treat and we had close up views of beautiful pandas who didn't seem to mind us watching them munching down kgs of bamboo. We had so much fun watching them eat. The two baby pandas were especially interesting. They chasing, hugging and playing cheerfully.
After a hearty lunch with dumplings in the local food market, we had to hop our bus to airport to fly for another city.