Friday, July 12, 2013

JiuZhaiGou - Day One

JiuZhaiGou (Nine Village Valley - say "joe tsigh go") is a national park in the northern Sichuan province.  There are nine Tibetan villages in the beautiful valleys with snow-covered peaks reaching 14,000 ft high.  We were told that autumn is the best time to go because the leaves are changing colors, but we missed it then, so we went in early spring.  We decided the gorgeous fresh, spring-green leaves were just as appealing as fall colors would be, and we loved it!

We took a 40-minute flight from Chengdu with our friend, Don, and landed in a snowstorm!  Yikes!  We had packed for a rainy weekend!  So much for!

The drive to our hotel in the village was nearly 2 hours from the airport.  We saw plenty of interesting Tibetan sights along the way. 

Temple with a long row of prayer wheels in front.

Without a tour guide, it's hard to say, but this looks like a prayer flag junk yard!  Or so many people put prayer flags here that it is just overwhelmed.  Who knows?  Prayer flags have a life cycle and when one becomes old, it is often replaced by a new flag in the same place.  Perhaps this is an especially auspicious place for them.
A yak ran by!
 We left our luggage at our hotel land went to the park entrance.

There are two forks in JiuZhaiGou valley, so today we started by taking a bus ride up to the top of the Zechawa valley side.  At the end was a spectacular lake called Long Lake.

Long Lake in Zechawa Valley

The blue of the lake is akin to some of the lakes at Yellowstone or Havasupai.  It was so clear you could see down to the bottom.  The air was fresh with beautiful, misty clouds shrouding the peaks.  It was colder than we had expected, but we were able to bundle up.   There were too many people for a peaceful, relaxing time, but we are pretty used to that in China.  We hiked in a line of people down the trail to the next lake called Colorful Pond or Multi-colored Lake.
Although the water level was low, you could still see lots of colors.

There were several of these trees with the red, peeling bark.

See the boardwalk hanging on the side of the mountain?

We had hoped to hike along the boardwalk all the way, but it was closed.  Looks rather precarious anyway.

We rode the bus down to Zechawazhai village and decided to get some lunch.  The tourist stalls had some interesting Tibetan crafts, and I got a pillow cover and a purse with yak leather (or so they say).

There were several of these Buddhist stupas in the park, a monument which houses Buddhist relics or ashes of monks--a spot for meditation.
We bought cups of noodles for lunch--just add hot water!
These people are not just dressed for the tourists--this is how they always dress.  My favorite accessory is the cell phone!

Tibetan prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom.  Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

 Nuorilang Falls

Nuorilang Falls

The hiking was so glorious.  It's such a delight to be in clean air.  You can't imagine unless you've lived in pollution.  Nature is always refreshing, but especially so here in the high mountains of China.

They had ecological toilets which automatically put a clean liner on the western-style seat for each patron.  The liner was part of a biodegradable bag which was then hauled away when full.  It seemed so simple and easy, so much nicer than a typical outhouse.  That is the only kind of toilet from China that I think Americans could appreciate.

I think this one was called Rhinoceros Lake, or maybe Tiger Lake.  The contrast between the blue and green was breathtaking!


blue lake in the green woods

Logs have fallen into the lakes, and greenery grows from the small tip that sticks out above the water.  It looks like a fairy land.  The water is so clear, you can see to the bottom.

 Tibetan Prayer Wheels

Buddhist texts and sacred mantras are written and placed inside the wheels.  When they are set in motion, the prayers are automatic. 

 The water flowed through the middle of the trees making a huge river/waterfall filled with greenery.  I have never seen anything like it.

Shuzheng Waterfall

This is Heyezhai Village.  Lots of shops to explore, but we were more interested in the scenery.  The colorful paintings and decoration on the buildings were beautiful.
Back to our hotel for a Chinese dinner, then early to bed so we could start out fresh and explore more the next day.

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