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.

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.

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.

[Video] Inside Bailong, The Highest Outdoor Elevator in The World, Zhangjiajie, Hunan (China):

Hunan – Hubei, Day 2: Tianmen Mountain

We met up with the Chinese guide, Ms. Liu, at Zhangjiajie Airport. Then we headed to Days Hotel nearby and called it a night.

After breakfast, we started for the Tianmen Mountain cable car station. But there was some ticket problem that made us wait for more than an hour before we could get in the station. After lining up for another 30 mins, we took an 8-people cabin. The longest passenger cableway of high mountains in the world took about 25 mins to reach the upper station.

[Video] Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Ride, Zhangjiajie, Hunan (China):

The Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk was far from scary or long. It required no bravery at all.

Then we took the escalator down to Tianmen Cave, then another escalator down to the minibus station. Later the intern guide, He Da Sheng, said that he walked down the 99-step staircase instead. And he reached the station earlier than we did. I guessed that he ran.

We took the minibus to get down. The 11km road with 99 bends made my friend dizzy and she even threw up.

I wished I had had more time here. I didn’t have a chance to see the glass bridge. It should have been more terrifying than the glass pathway.

We had a late lunch in the afternoon, then the tour bus took us to some shopping places like herbs and gemstone stores. Then we came to Xibu Old Street and had an early dinner. Inside the restaurant, I saw an interesting custom by the Miao ethnic people.

[Video] Chinese Wine Tasting Custom of Miao People in Hunan (China)

Luckily, I could walk a bit around this place before it dawned because my friend was too tired to come back in the evening.

Hunan – Hubei, Day 1: Flying To Zhangjiajie, Transit In Shenzhen

After 10 years, I flew with China Southern Airlines again to China. 2 flights today would finally bring me to Zhangjiajie.

The travel group leader instructed us so we spent 45 mins at the customs clearance. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought. We didn’t have to collect our checked baggage so it was faster. Shenzhen Bao’an Intl Airport was bigger than what I thought. However, its design didn’t impress me much. 6 hours of waiting here was kinda a waste of time. Saigontourist should have brought us something to eat for dinner because the inland plane only gave us some snack.

At least, our domestic Chinese flight wasn’t delayed. I saw the Wuxi one at the same gate was delayed from 6:50pm until after 9pm. We only had to wait for 4 flights to land before being able to fly from the same runway.

We landed in the Zhangjiajie Hehua Intl Airport after midnight. Luckily, we’d still have some sleep at the hotel before walking in the mountain area tomorrow.

Prepping For Another Sichuan Trip To Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture

As coming back to Sichuan has been my plan for quite a long time, I decided that I would look for travel partners because my friends and sister didn’t like this kind of traveling.

After looking in vain on Instagram, I decided to find on Facebook groups for other Vietnamese travelers. On 27 Feb, I posted an overview of the area on a China travel group (on Facebook) but there was nobody really interested on the Ngawa (Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Then I found a worldwide travel group and was surprised at the positive feedback though there were tourists in here.

At first, I thought that guys would be more interested in this journey which would involve a lot of walking and trekking. But then there were so many girls PMing me. Having some travel buddies excited me and made me draft the schedule immediately. I shared it on a new Facebook group with my companions-to-be.

On Mar 15, Vietnam Airlines started their summer holiday sales, and quickly I grabbed a pair of return tickets to Chengdu (via Hanoi). There were at least 2 girls on board so I wouldn’t be alone on this trip. I looked forward to seeing cute giant pandas again. I missed them so much!

In 2009, I carried a backpack about 10kgs (when the clothes were not wet) to Sichuan. When walking a lot, I felt a little exhausted because this one was not dedicated to traveling. I guessed this contained about 35 liters.

Would it be possible if I only carry a 20-liter hiking backpack this summer?

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 15: Chengdu To Hanoi, Transit In Guangzhou

I didn’t have a good night sleep so I felt a lil bit tired after waking up. Alex said that he didn’t wanna miss breakfast. Alex looked forward to a Western breakfast, but they served a Chinese one. Ha ha! But I liked this kind of a light breakfast.

We rent a bike next door, at Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel, to cycle around the city. It was great to ride in Chengdu because there was no rain nor shine. I realized that the Chinese girl style of riding bicycles and e-bikes was a lot different from the Vietnamese ones. They rode bikes like guys did. No exception! It was raining a lil bit after our 3 hours of cycling.

Checked out of Angelica Hotel 5 mins before 12 noon. I liked the advertising panel near the hotel that says, ‘Red is the new attitude.’ At last, I bought some cookies as a gift for our colleagues. We had a simple lunch in a near-by store with vegetables only.

Because we still had a lot of time, Alex wanted to try a real coffee. In a building, we found a coffee shop which looked normal from outside but was of high class inside. The expensive Italian coffee here cost a lot more than what I ever tried in Vietnam.

Again, we got on the wrong bus 300 to the North Bus Station instead of the airport. At last, the bus made it to the airport soon enough for us to board the plane. We had a lil bit of trouble because Alex used his name to book my ticket, so we needed help from the China Southern Airlines for some changes.

There was no delay, but we still ran at Guangzhou Baiyunport again because I wanted to be sure we could be on time for the next international plane to Hanoi. I had a fever and was afraid of the health check and customs clearances at Guangzhou and Noi Bai airports. But turned out everything was okay. We arrived at Noi Bai airport at 10:30 PM.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 14: Danba To Chengdu

We got up very early, packed up very fast. We shared a cab with another Asian guy, costing 3 yuans each. We were early for the bus so I had a light breakfast. The drive to Chengdu got us stuck in 2 traffic jams, one of which was caused by our bus driver. He hit a car and quarreled with them for about 1 hour. The we got stuck in another traffic jam spot somewhere near Ya’an where we had been stuck on the way to Kangding on Day 3 (???).

We returned to Chengdu around 7 PM. Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel was all booked. Because we had no advance reservation, we went to the hotel next door called Angelica Hotel (安祺高酒店). The price here was cheaper, and I think this is the best accommodation we’ve stayed in China so far.

We went to eat noodles and wanton dinner at the place Alex picked the last time because he liked the noodles here a lot. The weather was kinda hot so I didn’t enjoy my wanton much.

We counted money. Except for the camera, I only spent very little here. That’s a surprise to me! But then think again, we ate little and I must have dropped some weights after this trip.

We’ll have breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant the next morning. Yahoo!

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 13: Danba Hiking

Last night I had the longest sleep ever. I didn’t wanna go out, but then to please Alex’s desire to walk more, we got out of the hotel at 9 AM and walked along the road out of town until we found a track. We met a Tibetan woman, later she gave Alex two oranges. And he gave me one. It must be the best orange in my life.

But unluckily, at noon, we got stuck because the way was blocked by a lot of grass bushes. After trying in vain for another way to come up to the mountain, we gave up and gotta go back, also because of Alex’s allergy to pollens. We stopped under a big tree to rest and wait for the sun to go down a bit. But we only sat there for 1 hour or so because the clouds seemed to be afraid of the sun, too. While sitting on a rock, I was thinking I wouldn’t wanna leave Danba, and Danba was the most beautiful place on earth.

While walking back to the hotel, there was a guy in a car signaled if I wanted a ride, but I rejected. Alex told me he was proud of me. We reached the hotel at around 3:15 PM. Then I took my shower while Alex was searching for peanuts. I liked the shower I had today. I feared the coldness no more.

When we reached the hotel, I told Alex, “I wanna walk a lil bit more.” Then he nodded and followed me to the bridge. In our most silent night ever, I enjoyed the beautiful and peaceful starry sky of Danba for about 30 mins under the bridge. I was waiting for the round moon, but it hid behind the mountain. I could only saw it a bit on the way back to the hotel.

I so loved life here. Danba had everything: mountains and rivers, trees and grass, downtown and countryside, sunny and rainy days, cloudy and starry nights, lovely and friendly Chinese Han and Tibetan people, the food, the dancing on the road in the evenings, stores of all kinds, and especially, the roads that glitter every step I take.

I shed few teardrops when I thought tomorrow I would have to leave these beautiful sights. The only thing that Danba doesn’t have is Facebook.