Thursday, December 06, 2007

Journey to Jiuzhaigou


I have started on my Jiuzhaigou trip post.

I went on a family trip to Jiuzhaigou China in mid-October, after the Raya holidays. Ototo-san could not join us as he was still stuck in Miri. Taking over his place as travel kaki is my 2nd aunt. In addition, my eldest aunt and her husband, and another family friend couple joined the tour as well.

The tour actually covers Jiuzhaigou - Huanglong - LeShan - Emei Shan - ChengDu - Chongqing. However, I'll most likely cover only Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong as they are the highlights of our tour.

Facts (extracted from Wikipedia)
Jiuzhaigou lies at the southern end of the Minshan mountain range, 330 km north of the provincial capital of Chengdu. It is part of the Jiuzhaigou County in the Aba Tibetan Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of northwestern Sichuan province. Jiuzhaigou Valley covers altitudes ranging from 2,000 meters to 4,300 meters above sea level. It was awarded the status of UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1997 and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

Jiuzhaigou takes its name from the nine Tibetan villages along its length. Few of them remain today, depending on what classifies as "a village inside the valley". In 1997, the permanent population of the valley was about 1000, made up of about 130 Tibetan and Qiang families. Due to the protected nature of the park, the residents are forbidden from agriculture activities and rely on government subsidies as well as tourism.

Jiuzhaigou was a very interesting trip, because it is famous for its natural beauty, yet at the same time infamous because of the so-called risks and dangers of getting there. Prior to our trip we heard many cases of buses falling off the cliffs and other accidents or landslides along the mountainous route.

We started off from the valley. As the tour bus made its way along the narrow and bumpy roads towards the mountains, we were treated to some interesting rural sights. There were many small towns along the way. Many old and dusty houses scattered around the area. Most of them have their own farmland which they harvest their only source of food.

A relatively common sight was that of corn being bundled and left to dry in front of the houses. This was presumably done so to stock food for the winter. It was interesting yet somehow icky, for the roads were so dusty, yet they just left the corn to dry as it is without put a cover to protect it from the dust.

Another observation - Even though these houses look old and dusty, they were all equipped with electricity supply. However, most do not light up their houses at night. It was usually a very dim light bulb in each house. The amazing part of it was that each house has a television set and satallite dish. Watching TV seemed to be their only form of entertainment at night, and perhaps as their means of getting in touch with the rest of China and the world.

As we made our way slowly up the mountains, the terrain landscape changed. There were fewer houses and towns, and more rocks and trees. Some of the rocks had been blasted to make way for the roads. It was also quite scary to be on such terrain as you would never know when the next loose boulder come crashing down.

The scenery along the higher areas were just trees, trees and more trees. Sometimes we get a glimpse of the autumn hues such as yellow, orange and purple, but it's still mostly green fir trees throughout the journey.

Imagine our excitement when we caught our first glimpse of the snow-capped mountains! That point in time the bus actually stopped for a few minutes to allow us to take photos, and we actually experienced falling snow...for about 2 seconds! A few flakes and that's it!

After almost a day's journey, we finally reached Jiuzhaigou! The place was literally packed with tourists as it was peak season. We checked into the hotel and subsequently visited one of the Qiang villages for their performances. We were served smoked beef (from the mountain cows), some home-brewed liquor made from millet and roasted potatoes. I like the smoked beef, but the liquor was too strong for me. the performance was quite interesting, but the hut was very warm so we left the place after half an hour.

Back at the hotel, we called it a night, and to get a good rest for THE BIG DAY tomorrow - Visit to Jiuzhaigou!

To be continued...

1 comment:

lilium said...

Looking fwd for ur next blog on ur trip =)