I'm getting very out of sequence, so will just update as and when I can. Computer scarcity is the problem. The one I'm using at the moment won't let me into my emails, so not sure when I shall read those again!
I have just spent 10 hours on a bus, travelling to a National Park in northern Sichuan Province. I sat mutely (only mute because neither of us understood a word the other was saying!) next to a lovely old Chinese man who shared his sunflower seeds with me and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer when it came to his bird-seed cake, which I crunched and munched my way through to the considerable detriment of my very fragile teeth!
I'm staying in the 'Sim junior' hostel (see previous blog) - actually called 'Uncle Jiang's House' - just outside the park and hope to go early tomorrow morning. The weather's not great, but maybe it'll be better tomorrow. I'm staying until Sunday, then taking another long bus journey towards a place called Longzhong, which is supposed to be very attractive. Then it's back to Chengdu on Tuesday. More tomorrow...
The Juizhai National Park is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It is like an enchanted valley surrounded by high mountains, with rivers running through the middle interspersed with waterfalls and lakes of emerald, of green, of all shades of blue and of vivid turquoise and with some reflecting the mountains like a mirror. All around is virgin forest, inhabited by Giant Pandas and Golden Monkeys (didn't see either, natch! Too many noisy Chinese tourists!). Thirty kms of the Park has a road running through it, used by buses carrying tourists to the various 'sights' and extensive and wonderfully maintained wooden walk-ways enable one to walk through the forest whilst keeping one's imprint on the environment to a minimum because no-one is tempted to stray from the paths. So, one walks through a magic land where nature is completely undisturbed. There is no litter (an unheard of fact in China), and apart from the buses, no pollution (again, unique in China, where litter and pollution are a way of life). It is also home to nine Tibetan villages and most of the locals are Tibetans, Tibet being about 100 kms away.
I tried to 'do' one half of the park yesterday and the other half today, but I've caught a cold (quite how one manages that in 35 degrees of heat, I can't imagine!). so didn't really feel up to a mamouth trek today. Yesterday I covered about 12 kms, up hill and down dale, but was on my knees when I got back. The weather has been perfect both days - warm and sunny with a bit of a breeze. Today I did about 5 kms, so didn't see everything but I saw enough and it's a really beautiful bit of paradise! (Apologies for the photo, which shows nothing!).