We took a family trip to Sichuan, China recently, and Jiuzhai Valley, or Jiuzhaigou as it is known in Chinese, was the star attraction of the trip.
The journey to Jiuzhaigou was long and arduous, beginning with a flight from Singapore to Chengdu, followed by an entire day’s bus journey from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou.
Off we go, into the glorious sunset (and to Chengdu)!
Enroute to Jiuzhaigou (probably to break up the monotony of the long bus ride), we stopped at Pingtou Village, a village inhabited by the Qiang people, one of the ethnic tribes in China.
It was interesting to view the motifs on the exterior of the buildings, and to learn the reason why the villages place white stones on their door frames and window frames – because they worship the deity of the white stones. However, I could not help but feel that Pingtou Village is a sanitized version of a typical Qiang village for tourist viewing, or the tourist dollar has really brought about great prosperity to the village, as all the houses looked new and extremely well-maintained!
Motifs on the buildings.
White stones on the window frames.
Very new-looking statues and wall art – See what I mean about the village prospering from the tourist dollar?
By the time we reached the vicinity of Jiuzhaigou, it was too late to visit the National Park, and we had to wait for the next day for that.
It was drizzling slightly as we headed into the Jiuzhaigou National Park, but I thought it enhanced the experience, as it made my first glimpse of JiuHaigou look even more dream-like, with the mountains shrouded in clouds.
Once we entered the nature reserve, we were treated to a delightful, and seemingly endless array of beautiful scenery. Being an urban kid, having the opportunity to come so close to such natural beauty was awe-inspiring.
The majestic Nuorilang Waterfall.
The surreal Mirror Lake – check out the reflections on the lake!
The deep blue colour of the Long Lake, and the low clouds hanging over the mountains was breathtaking.
The unreal turquoise waters of the Colourful Pool and the Five Colour Lake.
The Pearl Shoal, a series of gentle cascades which eventually lead to the Pearl Shoal Waterfall.
Shuzheng Waterfall and neighboring Shuzheng Lakes.
Although a visit to Jiuzhaigou is by no means a walk in the park because of the high altitude (between 2000 to 3000 meters above sea level, depending on which part of Jiuzhaigou you are at), the breathtaking (pun unintended) views make any discomfort worthwhile.
Would I visit again? Probably not in the next few years – I shall wait for my memories of the beautiful scenery to fade before I re-visit. Also, hopefully, by the time I visit again, the quality of food and toilets in that region would have improved.
Tips for travellers:
– The best time to visit is in October, when fall comes to Jiuzhaigou. However, it will be crazy crowded, especially during the China Golden Week. do check the China public holiday calendar before booking your trip.
– Be prepared for lousy food – think oily, salty and/or weird (or all of the above). Pack lots of snacks if you are a fussy about food.
– Be prepared for third world toilets – some without doors, some with only a half door, and some with doors but without locks!