Thursday, December 27, 2007

Behold, Jiuzhaigou!

After a good night's rest, we eagerly await our journey to the next destination : Jiuzhaigou. Yay!

We were blessed with good weather that day. As a result, we took many beautiful photos that only reflects a fraction of the true beauty of Jiuzhaigou. A picture may speak a thousand words, but sometimes words can't even describe it. You have to be there to experience Mother Nature in her full splendour during autumn.

It would have been even better if the crowd wasn't so massive.
Check out the number of flags in front of the entrance.
Each flag represents one tour group.

We hopped on into a chartered environmental-friendly bus and headed to our first Jiuzhaigou destination - Nuorilang Waterfalls.

Nuorilang Waterfalls 诺日朗瀑布 is the widest waterfall in Jiuzhaigou Valley, measuring at 32 meters wide and 25 meters tall. Nuorilang means 'grand and magnificent' in Tibetan.

Grand and magnificent indeed.

Next stop - Wu Cai Chi 五彩池, also known Five Colour Pond.

Although it is one of smallest lakes in Jiuzhaigou, it has a richly colored underwater landscape with some of the brightest and clearest waters in the area. This is because Wu Cai Chi has the highest mineral content of travertine, which gives the pond its intense colour.

We need to climb down a series of steps on a steep hill in order to reach Wu Cai Chi. My first thoughts were whether the colour is as intense as those taken by (presumably) professional photographers and featured in magazines, travel guides and websites.

I was not disappointed.

Check out the intense and amazingly clear, blue water! This is a lake that is around 6.6 metres deep, and yet we can see the rocks and fallen tree trunks at the bottom of the lake. It is certainly amazing!

Now check out the crowd at Wu Cai Chi itself. This is one of the reasons why taking a good photograph is so tough. Too many people!

An advantage of going in a tour group is that we were allowed to charter a bus in Jiuzhaigou. This means not having to waste time to queue and squeeze your way into one of the common hop-on buses at each Jiuzhaigou destination. The queue at Chang Hai 长海 (below) was just ridiculous!

The leaves were supposed to be gold, brown, purple, orange and red. However we saw a lot of green in Jiuzhaigou. According to the tour guide, there was a lot of rainfall weeks before our visit, hence it took a longer time for the leaves to change colour. Can say we were not so lucky in this aspect, but at least it wasn't raining when we were at Jiuzhaigou that day.

One of the rare instances where we saw trees displaying the beautiful autumn hues. Imagine if the entire Jiuzhaigou were to look like that.

After lunch, we proceeded on to more Jiuzhaigou attractions, of which I will only focus on two : Wu Hua Hai (Five Flower Lake) and Pearl Shoal Waterfall.

Wu Hua Hai 五花海 Five Flower Lake is a shallow multi-colored lake whose bottom is criss-crossed by ancient fallen tree trunks. The tree trunks were protected by the high mineral content in the lake that prevented it from rotting.

This is how Five Flower Lake looks like on a still day :

(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

This was how it looked like when we were there on a windy day :

It was disappointing as the strong winds created lots of ripples on the lake, and we could not see the trees clearly. The area was also very narrow, which means hard to get a good photo opportunity when there were so many tourists crowding around the bridge.

As if the tourists aren't enough, there were a few brides posing for their wedding photographs. I think I saw two or three around Jiuzhaigou. This photo below was taken at Wu Hua Hai.

After this we visited a few more lakes such as Mirror Lake 镜海, Panda Lake 熊猫海. Some attractions such as Peacock Brook and Arrow Bamboo Lake 箭竹海 (made famous by the movie Hero) did not have a bus stop, so we only get to catch a glimpse of the lakes while on the bus.

Interestingly, the Chinese characters for the lake names are called 'sea'. In the past the Qiang folk heard of great bodies of water across vast areas but never seen how an actual sea looks like. As they have never ventured out from the mountains, hence they named those lakes as 'seas'.

Our last destination prior to the end of the day was to the spectacular Pearl Shoal and Pearl Shoal Waterfalls.

The Pearl Shoal is a wide, gently sloping area over which a thin sheet of water cascades down a 20 degree gradient. The water then flows down the spectacular Pearl Shoal Waterfall, which drops 28 meter over a broad 310 meter curtain shaped of a crescent.

The Pearl Shoal 珍珠滩 got its name from the sparkling effect of droplets that resemble pearls as they cascade down the shoal towards the waterfall.

We started off walking through the Pearl Shoal through wooden planks without barricades. We had to be careful not to fall into the shoal as it was very crowded.

The impression of the running water flowing through the trees and flowers really gave the impression that this is somewhat like a fairy land. Where else can you find flowers, trees and waterfall all in the same place?

The shoal is made up of travertine deposits covered in algae, which gave it the green colour, adding to the mystical ambiance.

More of Pearl Shoal....

...until it drops down to the Pearl Shoal Waterfall.

Check out the magnificent Pearl Shoal Waterfall. As I said earlier, these are only the pictures. The experience of being there is beyond words. To sum it up in one word : MAGICAL

One of my favourite scenic view of the waterfall.

There was another waterfall similar to Pearl Shoal which we were supposed to visit but it suddenly rained (more like drizzled) and then the rest of the tour group wasn't interested anymore. Darn! I was more keen to visit because I can't get enough of the waterfall flowing through the trees. Such a lovely sight!

That concludes our day trip to Jiuzhaigou Valley. I definitely want to come back here again, and preferably able to see more sites on foot rather than taking the bus. According to the guide, we should visit Jiuzhaigou during each season as the view is different every time. I only am interested in Winter and Spring, and do not mind going during autumn again, coz at times this felt like summer!

Next stop - Huanglong

1 comment:

lemmonsea said...

Good Shot of pictures!