Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 9: Langmusi To Barkam, Transit In Zoigê

I didn’t know that I saw the Hui mosque the day I arrived in Langmusi. It was on the right side of the Kirti Gompa and on the way to the hill that I trekked in that evening. I found out when I saw the photos I took that day.

Before getting on the bus back to Zoige (Ruoergai), I went inside the mosque but all doors were closed. I was at the Ruoergai station before 8:30AM but the tickets wrote that the bus to Xiaojin started at 12:10PM.

This place must be the highest place I’ve been to in this trip. It was cold today, too. I followed a Hanoian girl to buy some flat peaches. They tasted just like other peaches I’d eaten before. But at least I tried.

After having potatoes and beef rice for lunch, I found a cat playing with my backpack hit belt. The same Hanoian girl above-mentioned thought we’d be back to Songpan so that she could retrieve her towel and underwear. OMG!

After 1 hour, we were stuck again in a traffic jam for 1 and a half hours. First time I got to use my paper fan. 10 years later, Sichuan traffic jams were much more orderly and polite.

It was so hard to ask for the direction to Siguniang here because the station was closed when we arrived in Barkam aka Maerkang at 7:30PM. The bus driver told me there’d be one early tomorrow morning.

Then I leaded my team to find a hotel. I saw one looking kinda luxury next to the bus station. I realized that Chinese people used a face recognition machine to check in to the hotels here. After waiting for a while, I got the boot because I was a foreigner. I got the same result from several places nearby.

Didn’t know why my companions had to signal the opposite direction out of town. I ignored their idea and wheeled my suitcase faster to the downtown though they were dragging their feet. Then I saw another luxury hotel after crossing a small bridge. Luckily, they accepted 4 foreigners in 1 room. But the receptionist took so long to register me that I had to tell her I’d come back to get my passport.

The room was the most well-equipped I’d ever seen in Sichuan, and the bathroom looked extravagant too.

Later, when I was out finding dinner at 9:00PM, I realized that this town was almost empty. It was hard to find a noodles restaurant but the chef didn’t seem to believe I wasn’t Chinese until I showed him my passport. Didn’t know why he kept laughing. However, he cooked delicious noodles.

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 8: Langmusi And Tibetan Sky Burial Site

Langmusi was very dusty even in the early morning because janitors in their full workwear with masks and long gloves sweeping everywhere. I could only see their eyes and their beautiful feather brooms.

I started for what I thought the Sichuan side of the town, but couldn’t find the Hui mosque. Then I bought the entrance ticket for Sertri Gompa aka Dacanglangmu Saichisi.

Luckily, because I didn’t know the direction well enough, I guessed I should do what others do. Turned out I was at the northern side (Gansu side). I sought for the sky burial site after I left my companions because they either went the other way or were slow. I saw people walking to the hill side, so I followed them. After a while, I stopped near a school and some Chinese women spoke to me. I could barely answer them, but they thought I spoke Chinese so well. However, I barely understood what they said because they used some local dialect. From their outfits, I thought they must be tourists from the countryside.

Surprisingly, I met the best English speaking person of China on the hill here where she happily told me I needed to walk up the way she went down to reach the Tibetan sky burial site. She also added that there were big birds and almost no people at the site now. Then I continued and saw only yaks. I was surprised again when I saw cars driving up to the burial site. Seemed like those people came from a different road and didn’t see the monastery. I walked around the site for a while, took some photos and videos.

At the farthest point of the journey above 3,500m was a plot of land surrounded by Tibetan flags where I saw many huge axes on the ground and vultures waiting on the mountainside. At first, the vultures seemed to merge into the background which I thought stones. When I looked carefully again, they made me startled and frozen for a while. Then I quickly calmed down as the vultures were very quiet despite their enormous appearance. I also saw many fragments of human bones and even a bloody tooth nearby. I didn’t wanna see straight into the bloody stuff. However, in the daylight, I wasn’t scared, I felt a bit lucky I found a sacred place like this.
https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17858287111867407/

After getting down the hill, my team joined me and we went to a crowded restaurant for lunch. The wonton soup was good, but I still preferred the dry wonton in Zoigê.

After taking a nap in the hotel, we went to the monastery nearby. I thought this Kirti Gompa aka Dacangnama Ge’erdisi (on the southern/Sichuan side) was more beautiful, but it was just one big temple. People outside it looked more like camping to me because they were like just sitting there or finding a good spot to take some pictures. I walked towards to canyon, and my temple visit suddenly turned into a trek. Maybe I lacked info of the Namo Gorge before I actually saw it.

Wading through the stream, some horse keepers talked to me. They tried to get me on a horse trekking but I told them I was afraid of horses. (Actually I didn’t like riding on animals). He told me the valley would lead to a meadow. Two companions found me while I was slowing down so I decided to go back. The meadow was a little disappointed because the scene was nothing unique at this time of the year.

When I returned I met a Canadian guy whose face was redder than the Tibetans and a short-haired British girl who looked like a nun. He said my hat was from Canada, but I told him it was more Russian. He told me that he went to Vietnam, and actually the two of them were hitchhiking together after meeting in Hanoi. Lucy said the luggage was too heavy. Watching her carrying her backpack made me feel tired too.

I tried yak yogurt because a companion told me it tasted like Greek yogurt. But I smelled like the cow itself in this yogurt at the first taste. Nothing delicious about it.

Before dinner, I bought a panda faced craft item as a gift for my friend. After another fried rice meal, I decided to buy some Tibetan beef jerky for my sis. I really liked the packaging. Then I called it a day after 20,000+ steps.

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 6: Songpan To Zoigê Grassland

After one third of the journey, I discovered that I was able to buy a ticket, make a reservation, ask for directions, order food, etc. with my basic Chinese.

Though the bus departed at 10:00AM, it reached Zoigê Grassland aka Ruoergai Marsh at 12:30PM. As I was at a higher place than Songpan, I saw no trees, only grass, goats, yaks, and tents which reminded me of Tagong Grassland in the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

I thought I would be here at 2PM. Luckily, I had enough time to find out the bus to Langmusi at 2:30PM also passed Huahu/Flower Lake. So I bought the ticket for 21 yuans (26 and we could go to Langmusi).

A woman took us to their hotel. 4 of us shared the 2 bedrooms in a room. I didn’t feel at ease but I hope I could sleep tonight.

I then found a big restaurant where many people was having lunch. I decided for a bowl of beef noodles. Hmmm, too much noodles and too little beef. Too salty as well.

We strolled around the bus station as we waited for the bus. Zoigê had something that reminded me of Kangding, maybe because it wasn’t as dull as I had thought. It had so many uptown-like stores. Maybe I was the first Vietnamese to have been to this town.

It took us 45 mins on the bus to be at the so-called Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve. Because it was rather late, I was worried of the bus going back, I asked some travelers to find out how much time needed for this place. It took me 2 hours instead of 1.

It was so cold and windy here (8-9 degrees celsius) despite sunshine, with not many flowers to see. If I were here in late July (as my initial plan), flowers would be in full bloom. However, I’d never seen so many gesanghua in the wild like in here.

When I was walking and waiting at the gate, I found out there was no bus back to Ruoergai. The taxi driver from Langmusi didn’t accept the bus fare. We went back to Ruoergai with 100 yuans.

Finally, I had a normal rice meal with eggs and tomato soup which cost me only 5 yuans.

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 4: Mounigou

I didn’t have a good night sleep with people coming in and going out. Why did they have to make so much noise at night? I envied the other 2 Hanoian girls having their own room yesterday because they didn’t have enough beds in the dorm rooms. And I found out the Dien Bien girl also had to work again early in the morning. What a nuisance having to work so hard on her vacation!

Yesterday they made a breakfast appointment at 7:30AM, then left at 7 without me. They said they’d had porridge at a restaurant when they came back. First I only intended to buy some tea, then I found myself buying some baozi, too.

The driver took us to Mounigou Valley. The 2 Brits surprised me when they said they were students. They looked older. However, what I meant to say was they paid cheaper for the tickets here. We went to the Zhaga Waterfall for starters. My legs were so numb I didn’t climb all the stairs, just waited for them to go outside later. Turned out they took longer than I thought.

Before reaching the second place, the driver took us to a stop at a secluded monastery called Tara around 10:40AM. I walked inside with the driver and 2 Brits then walked around outside a bit. The driver seemed to be friendly with the monks here.

At 11:30 he drove us to the Erdaohai Scenic Area. There were more tourists here. Thank God the walkway was not as steep as the waterfall. I stopped after getting through the gate to have the leftover baozi for lunch.

The more I went inside, the more beautiful this place was. So many crystal clear lakes. I thought this place must have been more beautiful than Jiuzhaigou which were somehow ruined by the earthquake in 2017. But I wouldn’t know, as Jiuzhaigou was still closed at the moment.

At 2:30PM, I reached the top calcium lake because I saw people resting their feet inside. It wasn’t hot as I thought, but it turned out cold instead. When we walked out, it was just 3PM. In the morning, I helped the Brits tell the driver to come back late, but it turned out this place was not as big as Huanglong they’d seen yesterday.

I finally had to wash my clothes after 4 days in China. Because I couldn’t take a nap, I decided to buy tickets for Zoigê (Ruoergai) the day after tomorrow.

The four of us drank some beer in the garden. I then listened to my music on the phone, from Chinese to English to Vietnamese songs. Later, an old man with a guitar joined the fun with his singing Chengdu and some old Chinese songs I hadn’t known of, except for “Dang Ni Lao Le”.

Too much of what’s called group traveling was just making the leader tired because of their nonsense request. I even thought I leaded a group of tourists because they kept complaining for food and stuff. On the contrary, I didn’t even have a penny for what I’ve been doing. It was so hard to find a suitable place to have dinner. Other companions seemed to lend no helpful hand. At the end, we decided to divide a dish of fried egg rice. First time I knew they charged for extra bowls and chopsticks.

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. I wore a waterproof jacket, and brought an umbrella, but I had to share with 2 companions who had nothing. Wonder why they didn’t prepare for a long trip?

The Chinese guide 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. Luckily, a Suzhou student girl 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 visited 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 2 short breaks 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 ppl going back to their hometowns? They had no clue.

So, 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.

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

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 a little difficulty in communication.

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, there was a problem with a Hanoi girl booking.

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 even with some help from other visitors in the area, I and 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.

Hunan – Hubei, Day 6: Wuhan And Flying Home

This was the last day of our trip. We 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, we had a chance to go around East Lake. Unlike Jingzhou, the minubus took us around the lake for 30 mins. As I spotted the handsome driver, my tour group kept joking about me and him. Though he was 9 years younger, he said I looked like 27. We talked a bit. He asked if I was 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. Unlike 10 years ago, I even had a meal before the plane departed.

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

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):