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):

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?