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Published: April 30th 2010
A ten hour bus trip from Chengdu to north-eastern Sichuan province brought me to Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, a UNESCO world heritage site and probably one of the most visually stunning scenes in China and definitely the nicest I've seen while here. Vast ecosystems and numerous lakes compose the park and at 72000 hectares, requires shuttle buses to run through in order to cover the massive distances. Many endangered animals such as the giant panda and some sort of monkey live on the reserve, though chances of seeing them are remote at best.
I met an Austrian guy named Thomas the morning before heading up, at the hostel, and we went to the bustop together, although we traveled on different buses up. I was in a great mood on the way up as I had discovered and seen highlights of the habs eliminating the Caps, the number one overall team, in game 7! What an upset and part of me wished I was back home to experience playoff fever! Upon arriving up there, I met up with him and met a girl named Ginny that previously traveled with Tom. She was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Germany. That
night we ate outdoors, had lots of lamb on skewers which tasted great. We met an Indonesian couple who joined us as well, and I recounted to them my travels in that country as did Thomas who was there as well.
The next morning I awoke at six in the AM, ridiculously early by my standards, but knowing it was to be a big day. I met up with the others who were staying in the next room, and after a quick Chinese breakfast of rice porridge and Baizi, we were off to the national park. It was freezing outside! Close to zero by my guesstimate. We arrived at the gate for opening time, at seven on the dot. We ran into the Indonesians there. First stop was mirror lake, best seen in the morning while the water was at its calmest. I'd need to think of a better word apart from breathtaking to describe the scene. Perfect reflections of all the surroundings came off the lake, and all took a moment to have they're own such reflections of the scenery. The water was a deep aqua, never have I seen a lake with such rich and different colour.
Soon the sun broke out from over the mountains, the light shimmering off the lake making the scene even more spectacular.
We walked along the paths to the next few stops, seeing cascading falls, clear streams, plenty of birds and flowers, mountains poking the horizon, and variety of lakes with green to blue range of colours. Unfortunately the pictures do not do the place justice.
The altitudes ranged from 2200m to 3100m and I don't know if was the lack of air that got to us but at one point we started going crazy and loud. Thomas loves getting into the faces of the serious Chinese and trying to lighten things up. most of the time he succeeds. At times I had lots of energy and would sprint up the path, forgeting about the altitude and then would spend the next few minutes fighting for air. At 3100m, around a place called long lake, where the mountain peaks reflected off the crimson lake, we found some locals with traditional costumes of the region. We decided it would be a good idea to put on the female versions and parade around. The Chinese were very amused by this and
before we knew it we had a crowd surrounding us with cameras snapping all over and people lining up to get in a picture with us. Yet another celebrity moment.
The rest of the afternoon we spent walking through the forests and beside various lakes on our way back to the entrance, we never did make it out by foot, we had to resort to the bus at the end due to the vastness of the place. We made it out at six PM, right at closing time. After eleven hours of walking through the park, I feel I only got but a small taste. I think anyone visiting China should make the efoort to check this place out. In any case enough reading about it, check out the rest of the pics.
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