Jiuzhaigou & Selfie Sticks.

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.

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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. 

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很多人!A lot of people!

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Selfies everywhere!

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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.

再见!

Aisling.

Bad girl turned good.

Fortunately (and unfortunately) my terror of a student from my previous post was well behaved, ok so not well behaved, more like ok behaved. I said to my boyfriend on the way up to work ‘She’s on probation’, so if she was extremely bad on this day, that was it. I was going to tell the PA that I wasn’t teaching her anymore. I’d rather teach a student who wants to learn. Fortunately she was good, but unfortunately for me, I could no longer say I wasn’t going to teach her. I’ll have watch her and if she turns bad again, I’m going to have to let her go.

However for the class, we spent about 35 minutes out of 60, correcting her homework that she didn’t do. She doesn’t like writing or reading, or pretty much anything related to English; so to get her to do it we had to make a game of it, which actually turned out well. We didn’t manage to correct all the homework though.

China wise, there is a holiday coming up called the Moon Cake Festival. They eat these cakes filled with different things. Here is the link of the different kinds.Top 10 moon cakes. They look really nice, but the majority of foreigners don’t like them, including me. I once bought one and it turned out to be meat in the middle. After that it put me off them. In the link above there seem to be nice ones; including ice-cream! I am willing to try one again though, once it’s not meat or seafood.

So for the holiday this means we will have a few days off school and work. We don’t plan to go anywhere; It will be too crowded and we are trying to save money. We’ll most likely meet our friends at one point and do something with them, maybe visit some towns around Chengdu.

The first Moon Cake Festival I was at since coming to China, we headed to Xi’an, and it was mental! We also visited Jiuzhaigou, which was beautiful but again very busy. I think I posted some pictures of my time there in my older posts.

再见!

Aisling.

Xian

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.

Aisling.