Last weekend we took off work and decided to take the Universities offer of a trip to Jiuzhaigou ( 九寨沟 ). I have been there around 2 years ago, but I’ve always wanted to return. It’s such a beautiful place! We left on the Friday, departing from the school at the ungodly hour of 6:30am, and driving North. We had lunch, which wasn’t particularly tasty, and at about 4:00pm we arrived at Huang Long. This is a beautiful area that many people visit as it’s on the way to Jiuzhaigou.
Of course though, this is China, and nothing ever runs smoothly here. We were told by our tour guide that we would only have 1 hour at the park. 1 hour!?! To walk to the top takes at least 30 minutes! They told us we could get the cable car up, then walk back down again. We decided against this idea, we wouldn’t have time to make it back down to the exit in one hour.
So, we decided to go to the main entrance and walk the opposite way up the mountain. But just as we entered, the guide said ‘You can stay 2 hours in the park’. But….. why tell us this NOW? While we just enter? With this new announcement we became rather annoyed; we could have taken the cable car after all, and see the most beautiful area that is up at the top of the mountain. But never the less, we couldn’t do anything about it now.
So we started walking. As everyone was coming down, we were walking up; so we were literally walking against the tide of Chinese people! We walked about 40 minutes and took some lovely photos until it started raining. Clouds started rolling in and then we heard thunder followed by lightening! Up on a mountain, surrounded by water; this wasn’t a very good combination. We quickly started to head back down. This was also the Chinese peoples idea too, so we were all rushing past one another to get down before the rain got worse.
By the time we got to the exit, my trousers and feet were soaked, but we were the lucky ones. The others, who got the cable car, spent another half hour getting down the mountain. By this time it was dark, so god knows how they managed it!
Because we had to wait for the other people, we ended up getting to our hotel at around 11pm! We were supposed to have dinner by 8pm there. I was dubious about the food… ‘would they have food waiting for us at such a late time?’ ‘Would the cooks actually wait for us to return to cook it?’….. We arrived, and the food was out, presumably since 8pm. It was serve yourself, so I’m guessing they just left the food there. One look of it and I decided against it, having a small bowl of luke warm rice. Then we went to bed.
On Saturday, we left the hotel at the more reasonable time of 7:30am. Well, it was SUPPOSED to be 7:30, but by the time everyone was out it was 8:00am when we left. We entered Jiuzhaigou park at about 10 and spent the whole day walking and enjoying the scenery. We strolled around with a few others that we met on our bus.
Although it is a long trip, I think It’s worth it; the beautiful surroundings, the crystal clear water, and they preserve it well.
One thing I did notice since my last trip; selfie sticks!! 2 years ago I don’t think they existed; I remember loads of people holding iPads. Now, iPads are gone and selfie sticks are in. And by god they were everywhere! They were actually pretty annoying, as they are so long which makes it difficult to get past someone with one. The Chinese do love their selfies. I understand why many institutions banned them though.
So after Jiuzhaigou, we got the bus back to our hotel, where the ‘lovely’ food was waiting (presumably about 3 hours) for us. Deciding against eating this, we got some food prior to leaving the park, so we were quite full. We didn’t venture near the restaurant and instead went straight to bed, having to leave at 6:30am the next day.
Sunday was travel day, and it was long, and windy! We were to drive south, all the way back to Chengdu. The driver had another idea, deciding to turn east. From the main road we turned into a road barely large enough to fit two cars either side. I checked my map and was surprised to see he was driving in a different direction. But we carried on; the road twisting and turning up a mountain. All I saw were trucks, presumably heading to a quarry or something. This made me nervous. Every turn I expected would lead to a dead end.
I text my friend who was on the other bus and asked him was he on the same road. He text me back with his location. They were NEARLY home!! Whereas we were in the middle of nowhere. They kept on the main road. I was thinking ‘why the hell is our driver going this way??’ By this stage, most people on my bus were wondering what was going on. Apparently our driver heard that the main road was closed, and this road was the only way back.
I got another message from my friend at 5pm ’I’m home now’. I was definitely not saying ‘I’m home’. Well away from it in fact. We finally got back at 7pm, but I suppose it was better than 9 or 10pm.
Although I did enjoy the trip, the organisation of it was very bad. We expect this; nothing is organised in China. I’m not exactly sure why, it just is. Every foreigner living in China says the same thing, so now most people expect a trip, or an event to be unorganised.
Yet it was great to get away from the pollution and the grey sky of Chengdu. I’ve been getting more and more headaches recently, which I’m blaming on this. And we did plenty of walking which I’m happy about!
But…. I’m sorry, I cannot travel to Jiuzhaigou by bus, for 10 hours… for the 3rd time! Twice is definitely enough for me.