Thursday 15th October
Was horribly early and still dark outside, but needed to get to bus station early so Gal could get his bus ticket and join us. No traffic around so got to the station in no time and he got a ticket no problem.
Went on the look out for tea and coffee somewhere but couldn't find it anywhere, so settled for some orange flavoured muffins for the journey, were very tasty indeed.
My foot was killing me today, since the walk up the mountain, I think I pulled the back of my angle and was limping a little, so was really looking forward to resting it today on the coach and not using it much. Before we knew it we was on the 8am coach and on our way.
Was odd how we managed to sleep, even though the journey was oh so bumpy, however did wake up on the hour each hour for the first 3 hours, not sure why, but at least we made the toilet stop, always a pleasurable experience NOT!!, but we did manage to pick up some snacks at this one so all good.
Manage to pass time on the coach, watching movies, listening to music etc in between naps. Our lunch stop was good, had a local dish which was beef I think, with some green beans, peppers and rice, a little fatty but very nice.
Chose to wait for the loos at the next place, there was two, but in the same section again and you had to share the space with another, don't think I'm quite used to this yet, politely waited outside till the coast was clear.
The journey was def bumpy and a little concerning in places, where you could see the huge rocks that had fallen, but luckily the weather was good, so we tried not too worry about landslides too much. Probably didn't help that our driver was either smoking, chatting to a friend or on the phone, or sometimes two at once, whilst driving of course, interesting ay. English police would have a field day with someone like that.
Arrived in Jiuzhaigou Village about 7ish, a taxi was right outside and managed to get dropped off right outside hostel BRILLIANT. The rooms were cool, Gal unfortunately didn't have one when we arrived and just as we were going to sneek him in, to use one of our beds, they found him one, I guess somebody cancelled. Turned out he was sharing a room with the two Irish girls we met in Beijing. Was great to see them, caught up on what we had all been up to, they had visited Jiuzhaigou National Park today and said it was soooo amazing and that you couldn't take a bad pic there as it was beautiful in every direction, made me even more excited.
Dumped our bags and all went for dinner, an Isralian couple joined us as well, they were really nice, in China on holiday and sounded like they were having a fab time. Was recommended to try the local dish, which turned out to be what we tried at lunch, but we didn't mind as it tasted yummy, was starving so really enjoyed every mouthfall.
Popped to the supermarket on way back to get snacks for our trip to the park tomorrow and possibly the next couple days, Gal bought some macadamia nuts and we all sat in bar area eating them, while chatting to the guy running the place, he had very good english and was telling us all about the park and other areas. Soon headed for bed ready for tomorrow.
Friday 16th October
Couldn't get up for 8 when we'd arranged to meet Gal, so Ad knocked on Gal's dorm room and told him, luckily he was having as much trouble as us, so we all slept for another hour te he.
Dumplings and noodle soup for dinner delicious, always a good start to the day. The park entrance was about 10-15mins walk away, which was nice and luckily managed to use our student cards which saved us a bundle of dosh.
Decided to walk the first section of the park as Gal had been told by friends that there is no point buying the bus ticket because once in the park they don't check for tickets, so you might as well just walk in and then hop on and off the bus as you move around. Sounded fine to us. The first hour or so walk was mainly forest area, but had very nice views of hill sides either side through the trees, was a pleasant walk. I was still limping a little, but thought the walk would do my ankle good.
All of a sudden we stepped out of the forest area and there in front of us was a field of green, small bushes either side and in the valley of humongous mountains either side and in the distance snow topped mountains, it was the most beautiful sight I have seen yet. Had to take a few moments to take it all in, it was breathtaking. A small stream to one side was flowing past and as clear as glass, was gorgeous.
I have to admit it was heaven not being able to hear beeping of cars, crowds of people and most importantly spitting, I was in my element. We only saw a handful of people on the actual walk, more as we got near to the first village, but the villages looked man made for tourist attraction, so we bypassed the first one and headed for the 2nd in hope of staying overnight. You are not allowed to stay in this park overnight as the guards want you to pay entrance fee each day and after talking to fellow travellers, if you get caught by the guards either later today or early in the morning, they will make you pay again.
On the next section of our walk, between villages, we stumbled across many other amazing views. The lakes were a gorgeous turquoise blue, some had waterfalls in the background and on one of them we managed to find a tree lying out into the lake, which we could sit on quite comfortable and get a nice pic, it came out really nice with all the colours. The Irish girls were right, you can not take a bad pic here, it's just too beautiful. Some of the leaves on the trees were already starting to change colour, so that added to the colour of the lakes, just made things look that much more amazing. I can see why we were advised to come here at this time of year.
4 hours of walking and we reached the 2nd village. It really didn't seem like 4 hours though, I guess because we were taking our time and enjoying all the views. There is so much to see here, you really feel like you are in disneyland or somewhere like it, it's almost too good to be true.
The 2nd village was heaving with people, but it was good for us to sneak through and find somewhere to stay, hopefully without the guards seeing us. We asked a few locals, but no good. Then came to a Tibetan house, that looked a little like a guest house and managed to worm our way in for 2 pound 50. Seemed like a family run place and some Chinese tourists were staying there as well, so we didn't feel so bad. We stayed in the house from this point on, as the park closes at 6 and guards will start to wonder before hand to make sure the areas are clear.
As the night drew in, it got cold, but not as cold as Mt Emie. Plugged in our electric blankets to give them plenty of time to warm up and all sat down with snacks and cards to pass the time away. I am pleased to say that we finally managed to beat Gal at one game out of probably 3-4 of Durake - Mission Accomplished te he. I then got them playing rummy, but my version of the game takes hours and boy did time fly. I loved it, reminded me of many times I have stayed up with mum playing this game in the past. Of course I won, but they def started to catch me up quick in points. All completely shattered, it was time for bed, unfortunately our electric blanket didn't work, good job we had our sleeping bags.
Saturday 17th October
Awoken by banging on our bedroom door, the owner clearly wanted us to leave, but we felt at 8am it was still to early, the park opens at 7am and it would be too early to be in this section of the park without using the bus, so we knew the guards would be outside waiting. Back to sleep for a bit.
More banging on the door about an hour later, this time the owner was asking us to leave, so we just took an extra long time getting ready. He even tapped me on the sholder whilst brushing my teeth to hurry us along, was quite amusing.
Luckily for us there were plenty of tourists around by time we left and we just took out our cameras and took some pics and strolled around the shops to mingle with the others. We did see a group of guards but by this time they were all relaxed drinking tea, so we were good to go.
Just like Gal had said, we jumped on the first bus we saw and they did not check tickets, EXCELLENT!! Got lift to the top of one of the park roads, it was full of tourists, but we knew why as soon as we saw the view. A huge dark blue lake, surrounded by gorgeous snow topped mountains, no wonder people were attracted to this area. You soon forgot that others were there. I guess it's extra busy because it's Sat. Strolled down to the next lake called "The 5 colour lake", only one word for this lake WOW!! This lake has got to be the brightest turquoise I've seen yet, it was so clear and sparkling, very tempting to swim in, but I got the feeling from it's colour that it might not be too warm.
Unfortunately, a huge chunk of the walking path was closed because of falling rocks, a bit disappointing but wasn't in the mood for fighting with rocks today, so we happily joined the rest of the crowds and bused back down to the fork, ready to catch a bus up the other side of the park. Got to see most of the lakes on the bus ride, they looked amazing, but just as nice as those we had seen close up.
From the top of the next road we walked down a huge section, mainly forest with streams running through it and the odd waterfall, was really pretty to see, a little noisy but well worth a nice stroll. Swan lake was nice, very calm with ducks all around, really peaceful lake, not as pretty as the others but I liked it.
Such a huge park, we had to get the bus around some of it, but did stop at the GREAT WATERFALLS by what they called Panda lake, another amazing sight. It just can't get any better here. Filmed some of the waterfalls going through the jungle area, it seemed like a whole other place, beautiful, got lots of pics and enjoyed the walk down past them all, there is such a variety of things to see here and all is as good as the next, or so we thought.
When we reached Five Flower Lake, it was something more, the lake was huge and most of it was clearer and an even brighter turquoise then that of the 5 colour lake, we did not think this was possible. Must be a favourite of most, as there were plenty of newlyweds here having their wedding pic's taken and now we know why. It was the most breathtaking lake in the park I think. With all in one, it had the bright turquoise lake, with surrounding snow topped mountains and all the leaves on the trees were changing colours, who could ask for more. Lets just say everybody seemed to be spending longer in this area.
Next we visited Pearl waterfall which was like a mini version of Niagra, a very mini version, but still massive to us and beautiful. Followed by mirror lake - it was just like its name, a mirror. Was tremendous how it reflected all its surroundings so perfectly, have never seen a lake this calm to be able to show such a perfect double - AMAZING!!
I know I've said it a lot when explaining the areas of this park, but my overall comment would have to be AMAZING!! Def a favourite of mine and one of my highlights. Loved it.
We decided to walk back from the first village as we didn't want to get caught leaving without a bus ticket, but forgot just how long the walk was. We had an hour before the park closed, but luckily for us almost 2 hours later, others were still leaving from the bus, so nobody stopped us as we staggered through the park gates, absolutely shattered.
No beds avaliable at the hostel, we had origonally planned to spend 2 nights in the park, so hadn't booked anything, however a hostel around the corner had space for us all YIPEE and it had it's own bathroom. This time I wasn't so grateful for the guys letting me shower first, as the showers were freezing, I was stupid enough to jump straight in, lets just say the boys gave it a miss this time around.
Dinner was nice, saw someone eating a nice looking dish and they kindly pointed it out to us on the menu, wasn't sure of the meat but tasted good with the veg and rice YUM YUM YUM.
Got chatting to some Chinese girls and guy, also staying in our room, they spoke very good english, swapped lots of stories, they seemed to like our views on areas in China.
Ad managed to burn our photos to discs til 1am, so I stayed with him and just went on web. Nightmare considering we need to be up at 5:30am OH WELL, will have to sleep on coach.
Sunday 18th October
NOOOOO not another dark morning, this getting up early is really starting to knock me, I guess its not for work though so thats ok - you all hate me don't you te he.
It was spitting as we headed to bus station, was secretly pleased that we managed to see the park in the best weather and now it decides to rain.
Wasn't sure where to buy our bus tickets and tried to find out from a lady in an office there, but she just pointed to the bus, after about 20mins of asking around, it turned out it was her, guess she just wasn't in the mood for serving us the first time round NICE!!
The hotel restaurant next to bus station was open, so we went in there for brekky. Was a set menu of steamed bun, egg, rice pudding thing and some pickled veg, was ok bit odd, but we are used to that now. I'm just pleased I had pretty much finished my brekky when the waiter decided to spit on the floor - IN A RESTAURANT - can you believe it, how gross is that, was well put off and couldn't wait to leave, nobody else butted an eyelid, was very odd.
Once on coach tried very hard to sleep, but it was no good, just too bumpy. As Gal had been very kind to give us a extention for our ipods, so we could plug both sets of headphones in one, we offered him the other ipod to watch some films etc. He was more than greatful bless him - I have to admit it really helps time pass when you have something like friends on play.
Just as I started to drift off the coach pulled over and Ad nudged me to wake up. I wasn't really up for waking up, until I looked outside. To my surprise we were surrounded by snow - how can this be, we have just had two days in the blazing sunshine, it was soooo strange. Had to get out and take lots of pics, it had the most amazing snow views. Was like we had passed through time, but loved it. We spent a good 20mins or more taking pics and Ad throwing snowballs like a girl and missing us completely te he - I guess we can blame it on him being tired YEH RIGHT.
10-20 mins later driving down the mountain and the snow was all gone and the sun was starting to come up, changing time again HOW STRANGE. It now looked more like Jurrasic Park land odd.
The total journey was about 10hours again, didn't really notice it to be fair, think we are getting used to all this travel now. We rocked up to Chengdu bus station for the 3rd time at about 5pm ish.
Back to the Chengdu section.