Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 3: Chengdu To Songpan

I woke up early at around 4AM to be present at the nearest metro early. Turned out I was a lil bit early because I was there at 5:50AM just to find out that the metro would only be open at 6:06.

I took more than half an hour to reach the Chadianzi Bus Station at 6:45. My destination of Songpan didn’t appear in the ticket machines, then I had to ask for help from the help desk. She wrote something on the paper so that I could buy tickets at the counter.

7 hours on the bus without any traffic delay, I was at Songpan around 3PM. Earlier than I thought. As we descended from the bus, a lot of drivers asked to take us to a nearby hostel, or to Huanglong or Mounigou. But I decided that I should spend the rest of the afternoon strolling the Songzhou Ancient City nearby first.

As I booked the Youranju Hostel while on the bus, the hostel owner thought I was Thai. (Maybe it was because I used a Thai sim card for roaming here). I arranged with her for the 4 of us to visit Mounigou tomorrow in a rented car with other 2 British travelers living in the same hostel. This place had a nice garden with blossom flowers, flag decoration, and some maps on the wall. Especially, some tables and chairs outside were really inviting people to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere.

As we were all hungry, we decided to have a late lunch at the hostel restaurant beside.

When we headed for the ancient wall, the main gate was closed for renovation(?!) so we took a longer way around the wall. Some of the wall look rusty and a bit scary. Along the way, there was even a close gate which made us turned around. Too much walking until we went inside and saw some touristy shopping streets near the Songpan Bridge. It must have been the busiest place of this town. But there weren’t many travelers around here. (In fact, from the hostel, I saw more people leaving than coming).

Inside the ancient city was a big playground. Here I saw the largest crowd of people square dancing at the same time in my life. 3 of my companions joined them in some parts. Next to it was some kids playing basketballs and other sport activities. Maybe you could learn why middle-aged and old women liked plaza dancing so much in my video below:

On the way back, I saw sunset around 8PM. When it got dark, it got colder, too. My body was too tired that I took a Tibetan massage at a place next to the hostel with a price of 78 yuans for 1 hour, much cheaper than I thought. To my surprise, the girl didn’t apply any oil in my skin. There was no hot stone, either. In fact, she didn’t even ask me to take my clothes off. She massaged kind of every millimeter of my skin and comforted me to relax when she knew I was hurt. I hoped I’d feel better tomorrow.

15 degrees celsius outside and in order to sleep, I had to put on my hat with ear flaps, 2 layers of shirts, 2 layers of blankets and even had to turn on the electric mattress.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 3: Chengdu To Songpan

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 2: Dujiangyan And Mt. Qingcheng

We woke quite early this morning, then waited for the tour bus. But then a small van took us to another place where it started raining.

The Chinese guy didn’t speak English so it was hard to understand about the Dujiangyan and Mt. Qingcheng history. And he tried to get more money from us. Turned out we had to pay more, and much more than the hotelier told us. I sent WeChat messages and they replied way too late. Bad service. Felt like we were cheated. Luckily, a Suzhou student girl who spoke some English tried to help me from time to time. 70 CNY more than expected (170 CNY instead of 100) made our trip too expensive.

To make it worse, it didn’t seem to stop raining, even after we finished visiting Dujiangyan and sat for the lunch. The square lunch was worth the money somehow.

Somewhere on the hike to Mt. Qingcheng top, I saw billboards with the temperature and humidity (22-23.5 degrees celcius, 99.9%). I was a bit tired, but I found that Chinese people were really good at hiking. They almost wasted no time and breath.

At least we could have some short break with the cable car of Mount Qingcheng and Dujiangyan. I liked recording videos while on a cable car. Check it out:

I also tried in vain to ask for the coach stop to Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou, as the pretty girl as well as her handsome boyfriend seemed to have limited knowledge of Sichuan while the tour guide kept on thinking there was no way to go alone there. How about local people going back to their hometowns? They had no clue or didn’t wanna share with me.

So, after the tour stopped at Chengdu, I’d like to go and see if I could buy the tickets at the Chadianzi station first. But I was lost from some metro as usual, and had no clue of the map. After walking for a while, I decided to take a bus. We reached the station a lil bit later than 7:30pm. But I finally know how to get back here early tomorrow by metro.

Back to our hostel metro, I decided to skip dinner and opted for a milk tea instead.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 2: Dujiangyan And Mt. Qingcheng

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 1: Saigon To Chengdu, Transit In Hanoi

So I woke up early this morning to board the plane to Hanoi, in order to meet up with my 3 companions that I found online through a Facebook travel group.

I might have got out of bed the wrong side, because I had a problem from the start. The VNA ground staff was very slow. She checked my Chinese visa and thought out loud that it was invalid. I had to tell her if she didn’t know how to check then someone from their international staff in Hanoi should know how to do it. Even if I couldn’t go to China, I was still entitled to fly to and fro Hanoi, right? To make it worse, my luggage handle was stuck in operation.

I met the 3 girls at Noi Bai airport. They seemed to be friendly at first though the girl from Dien Bien Province seemed to have impaired hearing. Yet she could travel by herself to so many places. What an independent girl! I really liked her spirit.

We reached Chengdu on time (or earlier than expected?), but I had some problem with the checkin machine, and even though I finished on the machine, I still had to scan the 4 fingerprints again at the counter. Finally, after 10 years, I fulfilled my wish to return to Chengdu.

The metro was outside the airport. I found how to buy the ticket after a while. But when we reached the Flipflop Hostel, the Hanoi teacher girl had a booking problem. She must have cancelled the wrong date.

As there was too much trouble today, I decided to go to Dujiangyan tomorrow with the hotel tour group instead. I asked for a discount, but they just gave me a stuffed panda, and others some small panda things.

In the evening, I went to see the Anshun Bridge aka Dongmen Bridge (famous for its light at night) and passed by the Bar Street. Someone in a small pub by the street played a new song of Gao Jin, Xia Xue Ha Er Bin, which I liked a lot.

After completely lost to find Tangba Street (in TimeOut’s The coolest neighborhoods to visit in 2019) even with some help from other Chinese visitors in the area, we decided to have noodles at some vendor on the way back. Near the hostel, I bought some yellow cherries at a fruits store as I’d never eaten them before. It tasted like red cherries though.

Before going to sleep, I bought some bread for breakfast at a Hong Qi Guan store as I’d depart early tomorrow.

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MAY 28, 2019

Cá là món ưa thích của ta, tay gấu cũng là món ưa thích của ta. Hai món chẳng thể được cả, thì bỏ cá mà chọn tay gấu vậy.
//
鱼,我所欲也;熊掌,亦我所欲也。二者不可得兼,舍鱼而取熊掌者也。
//
You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Continue ReadingMAY 28, 2019

Hunan – Hubei, Day 6: Wuhan And Flying Home

This was the last day of my trip. I visited three sites of Wuhan called Yellow Crane Tower (which was made famous by poetry), Hubei Provincial Museum, and East Lake.

Two hours at Yellow Crane Tower seemed like a waste of time. I’d prefer more time at Wulingyuan or Fenghuang Old Town.

I liked the visit to the museum which made me understand more about the Chinese culture. Though I saw so many Chinese students around the beverage vending machines than in the showrooms.

After that, I had a chance to go around East Lake. Unlike Jingzhou, the minibus took all of us around the lake for 30 mins. As I thought out loud that the driver was handsome, my tour group kept joking about me and him. Though he was 9 years younger, he said I looked like 27 haha. We talked a bit. He asked if I was a Malaysian (?) And after a stop, when I switched to the seat next to him, he nicely started a small conversation with me. He asked which city I was from and if it was near the beach. Ashin said that 521 was better than 520. I couldn’t agree more.

After 3 flights with China Southern Airlines this time, I somehow felt that their service was worse than 10 years ago. We had to wait for a while on board and they didn’t give us any water to drink. I even had a meal before the plane departed 10 years ago.

After midnight, I’d be home safe and sound.

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Hunan – Hubei, Day 5: Historical Jingzhou And Walking Street Of Jianghan Road

We departed Changde, Hunan for Jingzhou, Hubei in the morning. In this historical city, we had a chance to go around the wall on an electric car and it was a great ride even though some of us disliked it.

Two members of our group decided that they would do some cosplaying. One dressed as an ancient girl, and one dressed as an ancient general.

The the tour bus took us to Wuhan. After dinner, we walked to see the busiest district called Jianghan. The walking street was filled with branded stores and even a night market. We had some fun here. I also tried the fruit tea of a chain milk tea store called Idrink.

I found that today was May 20 which was kind of a Valentine’s Day in China because 520 in Chinese sounded like ‘I love you.’ Today would have been worse if my friend and I hadn’t made fun of the day. We even took a sweet picture with the Chinese intern guide.

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Hunan – Hubei, Day 4: Fenghuang Old Town And Changde

What I feared the most was the weather as forecast. It rained in the morning again today, and my exploration of Fenghuang Old Town was disrupted somehow. Because I wore the Thai flip flop, I walked slowly and slipped when I got off a boat. I borrowed an umbrella because my jacket wasn’t completely waterproof.

The stoned bridge, the most famous part of the town, was wet so I only stepped on several stones and didn’t get to the middle. However, the boat trip was quite good.

I tried a boba milk tea and thought it was as good as the Vietnamese one.

After lunch, we departed Fenghuang for Changde. After checking in, all of us (except 1) walked to the supermarket called Lian Hua. It was quite big. I bought some gifts for my family and friends. What I loved about China’s summer is the peach season. I’d buy some on the last day to bring back to Vietnam.

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Hunan – Hubei, Day 3: Wulingyuan And Fenghuang Old Town

Some people disliked waking up early, but I thought it was okay on a trip when we had to check out. At least, I didn’t have to fight for breakfast like in Taiwan. However, the food was just so so.

We passed a sidewalk market on the way to the Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After taking a bus, we reached the elevator station. Though it is the world’s highest outdoor elevator, the Bailong Elevator only took 1 min 20 seconds to reach its top floor. There we enjoyed a fantastic view of Tianzi Mountain.

And we then walked to Tian Xia Di Yi Qiao, also known as the Number 1 Bridge Under the Heaven. I tried squeezing in with other people to take a pic and heard some guys said ‘mei’ and ‘piao lang’ which I replied with ‘xie xie’.

Then it rained cats and dogs while we were looking for the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.
The tour guides and leader couldn’t find two of the tour members on the way out. They were lost because they couldn’t see the flag due to umbrellas. Luckily, I could spot them on the way back searching.

After lunch, the bus took us to Fenghuang Old Town. We had dinner, then walked around the town for only 45 mins. That’s why my friend and I decided to come back later.

At 10PM, 6 of us took a cab to Fenghuang. Here we tried stinky tofu and enjoyed the night.
I was looking for boba milk tea, but I didn’t order because the menu was in Chinese and I wasn’t really thirsty. At midnight, we returned to the hotel.

Continue ReadingHunan – Hubei, Day 3: Wulingyuan And Fenghuang Old Town