China Day 7: Bus to Jiuzaighou
Aside from everyone smoking, another problem is that everything starts at 8am (tour buses, trains, etc), but our hostel did not start serving until 7am. Thinking this would be no problem, we got to the kitchen right at 7am and ordered. Well 30 mins went by and still not food. We were about to get up and walk out but she convinces us to stay for the food.
We threw down our food, ran out for a taxi, and made it to the bus stop with only about 3 minutes to spare. And then we were off, on what we guessed would be a 12-13 hour ride but actually had no idea because when we asked people, the language barrier was such that they did not understand that question. So oh well!
Our crazy bus driver… and the passenger who started a fight at the gas station
So we were the only caucasians on the bus, no surprise there. The bus driver was being pretty normal on the highway, which consisted of the first two or three hours, but then the road got really windy and he got a bit nutty. He was taking corners in this huge bus faster than I ever take them in my Jeep. Every corner we would get flung to one side, and then back to the other. Our luggage was going all over the place, there was zero hope of sleeping. We were passing other buses, trucks, and even passengers cars like it was a video game. We got such a kick out of it. Needless to say, we got to our destination in under 8 hours.
At one of the gas stations where we stopped for a potty break, I come back from the bathroom and some guy is causing an absolute scene. He is flailing his arms, yelling, everyone is either laughing or trying to calm him down. He disappears for a couple seconds, then reappears and starts it all up again! Having no idea what he was saying I can only guess as to what he was yelling about, but it was funny. And as we all got ready to go, he gets on our bus. Turns out he was our passenger! Ihave no idea how he got into such a fight so fast with a bunch of strangers.
Our bus continued through cities that seemed to have nothing, and I mean nothing, going on except for construction. Huge high rises were going up, and every store front along the road was a hardware store. (As we figure out later, this is where the 2008 earthquake leveled almost every building to the ground, and this was an effort to rebuild the cities).
Lunch was a cup-o-noodle, now becoming a staple in our diets.
The bus went up and over a pass, and afforded us views of the mountains to the west – towards the Himalayas, where we had been just a little while ago.
We arrived in Jiuzaighou around 4pm, what a ride! We checked into our International Hotel – a Lonely Planet suggestion as they “cater to international business men”. What a load of bull. They catered to no one but Chinese, and the ladies at the front desk couldn’t understand the phrase “our lockbox is broken, please send someone to fix”. The food was expensive and rather gross. Pigs feet, frogs, yak liver, duck stomach, and other things I will not mention. We found some food that would be OK with us, but did not eat dinner there again.
China Day 8: Jiuzaighou Valley
I had a nice long sleep until, ehhh-hem, at 8am when Griffin impatiently woke me up (okay what is this? The guy I used to visit in college who slept until 1pm on weekends and had to have a special siren alarm for deaf people because he cannot wake up in the AM, is getting up before me now?!).
We had the WORST breakfast buffet ever. The food not only looked bad, but it also tasted like mildewed feet. The hard boiled eggs were scary – a weird dark brown color for no apparent reason. Even the tofu was stank. We both worried we would starve in the park that day, no joke. I was worried I had lost all the weight I could afford. Ahh alas we said oh well, grabbed a cup-o-noodle, and started walking to the park entrance a couple miles up the road. On the way we purchased our return bus tickets back to Chengdu for Monday.
After some expensive national park tickets – $100 for the two of us (yes, USD) – we boarded the special “green bus”. We had paid an extra $20 for this bus each, because some dumb travel blog had told us that the extra Yuan was worth the “unlimited ride bus”. Seeing that on the price board the only two things listed were “tickets” and “green bus” we figured that must be it. But somehow, everyone who just bought regular tickets (no extra bus tic), got a “white bus” that did exactly the same thing as the green one, except it did not have a tour guide – who much to our delight, spoke only Chinese. Great. Way to read some good advice on how to blow extra money. Oh well.
The park was spectacular. Not sure how to describe the pools of water – which were the clearest water we’ve ever seen, and apparently the color comes from mineral accumulation, or the rivers flowing around trees, and not in the way a flood does, but rather just around them, like it was always meant to be that way. Before we get to the pictures, check out some of the outfits:
I really wanted my Cup-o-Noodles; and Griffin stands next to the smallest pick-up truck on Earth.
The least useful map. Ever.
Continue to the next post for amazing photography in the park!