On the first day that we arrived in Jiuzhaigou, it was about 4 or 5pm and it was way too late to visit the park – it opens at 7am and closes at 4pm.
That was fine though as we had 5 nights to spend in the area. The first day, we were pretty tired after the long bus journey and didn’t really fancy being up at 5am to go to the park – we stopped the 5am rises when we “retired”.
So, day one in Jiuzhaigou was quite a quiet and chilled out affair. The town isn’t overly big, you can walk the length of it over the course of a few hours so that’s exactly what we did.
The whole town pretty much centres around the park, there’s all of the usual tourist type things that we expected to find in China. Masses of restaurants, cafes, some bars and a load of tourist shops.
As this area was once part of Tibet, we found that a lot of the vendors had yak meat for sale – I bought some for in the park but it was dried and smelled like dog food. After about 2 bites, it went into the bin. As I can’t read Chinese, it may well have been dog food ! ! !
There’s a river that runs the length of the town and most of the shops, restaurants etc all run alongside the river so it made for a nice walk. As you approach the park, there are some tunnels with various stalls set up inside them and it’s kind of like a funnel for the tourists so we passed these tunnels on several occassions.
The park itself was a big let down – it wasn’t like any national park area that we’ve ever been to before and hopefully it wont be like any that we go to in the future either.
To begin with, the price was a rip off, about £31 per person to spend one day in the park. The park is full of “green, eco friendly” buses which spew thick black plumes of smoke from their exhausts. Getting on to the buses is pretty difficult too as the Chinese people don’t like to queue.
Instead, they prefer to push and shove their way to the front of where a queue would be if there was one.
So getting on the bus was basically a huge pushing and shoving match. The park is too big to cover on foot so getting the bus is the only real option. The park is split up into various sites and the buses go to each of them. So, each site, usually a lake with some trees in it, is really busy and has lots of people pushing and showing. For some reason, they don’t seem to like it when you clatter them back so that was the national park.
As it was, the area had some pretty nice food and some other cool stuff to see. The day after the park, we didn’t do loads, we ended up walking approx 14 miles in the park after we decided that we were fed up with jostling in bus queues.
I’ve mentioned that the area, at one point, was part of Tibet and there are some people who are obviously of Tibetan descent there. We found a little village which if we hadn’t just ate lunch, would have been a great place to eat.
It had various meats and veg for sale and they would be cooked on a barbecue and there was even a little tent that could sit inside and eat the food. It looked and felt pretty authentic and it would have been a great wee place to have a meal.
Instead, we walked back to our hotel, a good 90 mins walk away and went to a Tibetan restaurant later that we found info of online and on the guide books.
It was called Abu Lu Zi and no, I wasn’t able to find out what that means. If you know any Tibetans, please ask them for me ?
Anyway, the food was great in here, it was more expensive than the Chinese restaurants in the area but it was well worth it. So much so, that we went twice.
Over the two nights, we had Yak meat kebabs, a Yak meat stew with veg and potatoes in it, Yak meat spring rolls and Yak meat with peppers and red onions which was cooked on a stone tray – similar to what some places serve fajitas on back home.
All in, there were two 9 hour bus journeys to get to the park from Chengdu and back again but the plus points were the Tibetan village, the food, seeing the snow covered hills and trees and of course, the reaction of the Chinese people when they saw the snow.
If anyone happens to be in Sichuan, I probably wouldn’t bother going to the park area but if you are there, then maybe 2 or 3 nights would be more than enough to see Jiuzhaigou and eat some Yak meat.
The next part of the journey is Guilin and to get there, it was a 25 hour train journey from Chengdu. We are nearing the end of this train journey as I write this and are both looking forward to a shower and fresh clothes.
Thankfuly, the next hostel is at the end of the number 10 bus route so, with a bit of luck, it will be easy enough to find.