As I mentioned in my last post, a week’s holiday was approaching. There was worry in case we could not get a return ticket from Juizhaigou. In china, you cannot buy a return ticket on the same day, which is quite bothersome. So we had to deal with the prospect of being stuck in Juizhaigou and missing class the next day. I would get fined if I miss a lecture, they take it that serious in my school! However we were lucky in that we got return tickets which we were delighted about!
I warn anyone who is thinking of traveling through China by bus or train, do not even think about it! Majority of my week was taken up by traveling. We had to catch a 13 hour bus to Xi’an from Chengdu. A 15 hour train from Xi’an BACK to Chengdu. After waiting 2 hours in Chengdu, we had to take a 10 hour bus trip to Juizhaigou. Then because of the amount of traffic, we got stuck up Chengdu’s mountains for over two hours, meaning it took 13 hours to get back by bus. I was beyond tired on Monday night. My traveling will be done by plane next time!
Apart from the traveling, it was good to get out and experience more of China.
Monday: After work, I met my friends and we headed to the bus station. We arrived in Xi’an after 13 hours on a bus. Xi’an is a nice city, with the wall surrounding it being the main feature. It is a big tourist area for Chinese and foreigners, I was surprised that some areas are extremely dirty, for example a lot of litter on the ground. It was disappointing to see.
Tuesday: We rented bikes and cycled along the length of the wall. It is in a large square around the centre of the city, so it was great to see the city from the wall. We then decided to treat ourselves and got a Pizza Hut.
Wednesday: We went on a package tour where they brought us to see the Terracotta Warriors. The place was packed with Chinese tourists, meaning it was literally impossible to get a good view of the warriors. Although it was great to see, I think the large amount of tourists put a dampener on it. There was pushing and shoving trying to get good photos, so by the end of it I just wanted to get out! I’m sure it would have been a lot better during a normal week.
We then went to visit the Pagoda and the water light show, it is really pretty at night around the Pagoda and there is a great atmosphere around the city at night. The water light show was rumoured to start at 8, so with the bad traffic, we risked our lives (literally) and got a Tuk Tuk to get us to the Pagoda. I will never forget that experience! The driver was weaving past people, cars, driving on footpaths, beeping at everyone… it was insane! He did do an amazing job though, getting us their only a few minutes late.
Thursday: We went for breakfast and got the train back to Chengdu. Thursday was taken up by traveling.
Friday: We arrived back in Chengdu at 5am. I was beyond tired at this stage. I got no sleep on the train as we had hard seats. We got a taxi to the bus station and at 7am, we head to Juizhaigou. As soon as a sat on the bus I was asleep! Now this is rare! That was the first time in years that I actually slept on a moving vehicle! I woke up 2 hours later and we were in the mountains. At around 5pm we were in the National Park, but as always, the traffic stopped because of the amount of tourists there. This meant we had to walk 30 minutes to get to the village.
The village is in a lovely location, surrounded by mountains. It reminded me of Switzerland. I have never been to Switzerland, but from television, that’s where it reminded me of. It is situated in the North of Chengdu, and it is heavily influenced by the Tibetan culture. The people who live there also have a distinct Tibetan look about them, and colourful flags with inscriptions on them were all around the village.
Saturday; Because of the large amount of people, we could not get tickets for the park. Our plan was to walk in the park for 2 days, so we had to think of something to keep us busy for Saturday. We decided to go on horses and trek up the mountains. The views were gorgeous, where you could see little houses up the mountain and cows in the distance grazing. I really enjoyed it! I never would have taught I would trek up mountains on horses in China.
After the horses, we got some food and hit the bed early for the next day.
Sunday: We got up at 6am where we got a bus up to the top of the mountain in Juizhaigou. The top of the mountain was freezing! There was ice on the ground so it was extremely slippy. It was that cold that myself and my friend bought huge scarfs to put around us. The park is really nice, with loads of waterfalls and lakes. The lakes are so clear, where you can see right down to the bottom and they are a lovely green/blue colour. I was actually surprised to see that the park was well maintained; there were plenty of rubbish bins around, there was not one bit of litter on the ground, and even the toilets are really nice (I could do a whole blog about Chinese toilets). It seemed that the Chinese people really care about the park.
Although the top of the mountain was absolutely freezing, once we got down lower, we noticed how the temperature got hotter. So hot that we had to take our jackets off and scarfs off. The amount of Chinese tourists also crept up, meaning there was a queue to walk around the park at some stages. It took us over 9 hours to finish our portion of the park. There were another 2 travel routes to do! We arrived back to our hostel tired and sweaty, so we got some food and went to bed early.
Monday: We woke up at 5:30am to get our bus back at 7am. Yet again, there was traffic, meaning it took an extra 3 hours to get home. I arrived back in the apartment at around 9pm and went straight to bed, looking forward to my 8:30am start in the morning!
What I learned: never go to tourist attractions during national holidays, and ALWAYS fly.