This was my next destination after hard decision between a quick flight or a very long train and bus ride. The difference was about 26 hours and $35 dollars, so I opted for the $35 and took the 1hr 5min flight. We left at 6am, which was quite early so I was up and ready to go by 4:30 as the airport was outside the city of Xi’an about an hour. I feel like I have had more early mornings here on the trip that I have back home! All the transportation starts early, trains, planes, and buses.
Anyways, I arrived to the hostel about 1pm, after the flight, a 2-hour wait for the bus and then an additional 2-hour bus ride into the town. I met some guys from Finland on the plane, so it was a very quick ride as we chatted about our experiences here so far. They have been studying here since February so they speak a bit of Chinese, which was very helpful in getting the bus ticket and a subsequent taxi.
Jiuzhaigou is a very small town, reminiscent of some ghost towns back home. There is one very small main road with buildings on both sides, which is then situated in a tiny little mountain valley. The weather wasn’t that great, cold and rainy, but it left some pretty cool fog and cloud formations hanging around the mountains. I had some great views from the top floor of my hostel, Angie’s Hostel. It wasn’t the worst place I’ve stayed, but the close proximity to the park more than made up for the cold room, poor bathroom and terrible café.
I was up early the next morning to spend as much time as possible in the park. The entrance was 200 yen, which is about $28, but with a student discount it is cut in half. Unfortunately I left my student ID back home, but here in China, a state drivers license with my picture works just the same
The best way to view the park is to take the bus to the top of one of the two valleys and walk back down. The Chinese have really done a nice job with some really nice wood walkways that cover the entire park. They are really catering to the tourist with the setup. Most of the Chinese tourists would get on and off at each bus stop, so walking down from the top was a great way to get away from the crowds and really see the beauty of the park. At just over 10,000 ft. in some places, with the mountains being much higher, the lakes are just beautiful. The water has a very high concentration of calcium and some other minerals, which gives it a dark deep blue color. Often times, fallen logs and trees that are 20 feet underwater are still very visible do to these minerals. The entire length of the park is littered with these dark crystal blue lakes and rivers. Each is a bit different, but nestled in the valley of these enormous mountains makes for some great views.
By the end of the day after having walked around quite a bit, I took one last bus ride to the top of the other valley and began to walk down. It was quite late, so at each stop the Chinese park officials/bus drivers were literally pushing us onto the bus so they could close the park and go home. At some of the stops I managed to escape and walk to the next lake, or waterfall in which the “forced” bus boarding process was repeated. It was nice being on of the last few people in the park, as it was a lot quieter and made for grabbing some pictures a lot easier.
I grabbed some dinner with some fellows from Brazil (has been working in Shanghai the last 2 years) and a medical student from Ohio. I headed to bed early, as I had a early morning 13 hour bus ride to Chengdu which I really wasn’t looking forward to.