We stayed here for 5 nights and even still, we have no ideas how to pronounce the name of the place or even how to spell it without looking online.
That didn’t matter too much though as the reason for coming here was to see the national park. Like most places in China, it’s pretty far away from everything. Danny Bhoy, the comedian, does a sketch about how he drove for 12 hours in Australia then got out to look at his new location on the map to discover that he hadn’t moved.
The same thing sort of happens in China.
So, to get to the national park area, we took a bus. It’s not like getting on the 64 in town and getting off an hour or so later. This was a 9 hour bus journey and it left at 7.20am – who said us backpackers were lazy ? ? ? We were up early and got a taxi to the bus station which was pretty lively even at that time of day.
The place was already busy with various market stalls and people selling things for the locals to have for breakfast – there were no coco pops though so I was left pretty disappointed.
They did have boiled eggs and lots of them along with noodles and things that looked like tortilla wraps and various other things that didn’t really look like anything that I had ever saw before.
We had prepared in advance though as we had a bar of chocolate and some funky bread things that were like a cross between a tiny loaf and a small cake.
So, on with the journey. Like most times that I go on to a plane, I always get stuck behind someone with the seat back and this journey was no different, there was a guy with a massive head in front of me who had the seat back.
I think it was probably the weight of his head that made the seat go back, he had what could only be described as a “gargantuan cranium”.
For a 9 hour bus journey, I was expecting a grim time of it but the journey was actually ok – I had my I pod fully charged up and had various things to read.
The first part of the journey just went through the city so there was nothing much happening. After a while, the bus ventured into the countryside and judging by the reaction of almost all of the passengers, they hadn’t been to the countryside before.
Most of China is built up and is like a city. The majority of passengers were taking photos of every hill, tree and river that came into view.
Towards the end of the long journey, we passed some car parks that had yaks in them – not on their own though, they had people too. It looked like they were there so that people could get a picture next to or while sitting on them.
Luckily for the yak, our bus didn’t stop and the animal didn’t have to deal with my weight sitting on it’s back.
Unluckily for some other animal though, it’s owner had decided to chop it up and cook it – so that was lunch at a later stop. A lot of people seem to sell things on sticks and cook them over a barbecue. Most of the times, it’s not obvious what the meat is but this was probably either beef, pork or possibly yak. Whatever it was, I thought it was great and after a few days, I was still in a healthy state so there was the added bonus of it not giving me any food poison.
Keep in mind that this was a 9 hour bus journey and there wasn’t really a great deal to report on it – stuff for breakfast before we got on, a guy with a big head, a yak in a car park, meat on a stick in a car park is pretty much all it had to offer.
Thankfully I had the ipod with the Celtic history podcasts on it because they were great to listen to. Well since I happen to support Celtic, they were.
The bus journey back was similar to the bus journey there so don’t worry, I’m not going to write all about that one as well. But, one thing that did amuse us was the weather.
As you are passing through some high up mountain roads, the weather will be more extreme than normal. And by more extreme, there had been an over night snow fall – something that seemed to excite the Chinese passengers on the bus. When we boarded the bus, the first available seats that we saw were at the top front on the top deck and the people opposite us must have used all of the available memory on their cameras as they were continually snapping.
Every layby and parking stop was filled with people standing beside their cars and buses while taking pictures of each other throwing snow up in the air.
People say it’s a small world but when you see adults experiencing snow for the times in their life, it’s not really that small.
After a while, there was announcement on our bus, one that was met with laughter and cheering – we didn’t have to understand the language to know that there was going to be a stop to allow the passengers to go and take pictures of the snow.
As the bus emptied, we stayed in our seats and looked behind us. Apart from an empty bus, there were two other “western” faces who were happy to stay on the bus – it turned out that they were from Switzerland.
Thankfully by the time the bus arrived in Chengdu, the weather was back to what we were hoping for and that was weather that was nice enough for me to be wearing my shorts and t shirt.