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.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 12: Garzê To Danba

I hardly slept so I got up early. I rushed Alex to pack things up because we had to walk to the bus station. By 6 AM, we were there and Alex found a cute Chinese girl with a red cap on the bus station. He was so glad when she got on the same bus with us that he wanted to sit next to her. What an asshole! When we stopped for lunch somewhere, he tried to talk to her a bit, but she just revealed to him that she was a journalist from Fujian and traveled to Tibet. I didn’t like her way of Western traveling at all. Don’t know why Alex was so attracted with such a girl.

The bus looked like a truck with so many things on the floor, blocking the isle. The music on the bus was too loud. Also, the driver used too much of the horn. Anyway, I didn’t feel like I would get a fever again. Hope my tonsils won’t hurt me again, either.

At the bus station, we realized that there would be no bus back to Chengdu tomorrow. Alex asked the red capped girl for help, but she only told us the thing we already knew in a way too aggressively even though she smiled, then left. Thanks to another Chinese girl who spoke English, we could book the bus ticket for the 6:30 AM bus the day after tomorrow.

Maybe because the Fujian girl was a bit rude, Alex behaved nicer to me? In the hotel, he told me I was special today. Also told me I looked more cute when I was tired. Ha ha! We decided that we’d go about Danba tomorrow because we only could come back to Chengdu the day after.

On the way to have dinner and back, I bought a pair of earrings looking like the one of Aussie woman for 30 yuans and gifts for my siblings (a folding fan for my sis and a prayer wheel for my lil bro). We had another beer but Alex didn’t like the black beer much. He wasn’t drunk, but he told me he could do everything to please me, then corrected that he would do ALMOST everything. He smiled when I asked what the exception was, then replied that it was weird stuff. So funny!

Tonight the sky had a few stars. I saw the round moon. It must be day 14 or 15 of the lunar month. These were the first stars I’ve seen since I came to China. I had expected more than that.
Alex helped me massage my neck before we went to sleep.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 11: Garzê Monastery

We woke up very late around 8 AM. Didn’t know what to do so I listened to music while waiting for the rain to stop. As Alex wanted to go out, at 10 AM, we walked to a monastery nearby then another temple on the way we went to the mountains yesterday. 4 hours of walking today was nice, I felt no pain in my feet. We bought the bus tickets to go back to Danba tomorrow.

Even when it rained, I still loved the place too much to leave it behind. We had some cakes for lunch. I thought that cakes in China tasted better than in Vietnam.

At 4 PM, Alex wanted to walk out again, so we went around, passing a military base. Alex told me not to take photos of the soldiers, or else I would be in a complicated situation. Felt like an animal in the zoo because everybody was looking at my legs. I took a pic of a cosmos flower (gesanghua) instead. Later I found out its Chinese name was gesanghua.

I successfully ordered noodles without chili for dinner. I got fever before going to sleep (due to tonsillitis, I guess). Damn!

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 10: Garzê Hiking

We climbed a mountain across a river from 8 AM to 4 PM. We started very early when there were clouds over them, but when we reached the top, it was all sunny. My big toes didn’t hurt me much like the hike in Kangding. My feet surely preferred walking on the grass to on the rocks.

Was it the first time I crossed a hanging bridge? Alex wrote about it, “When a way begins that way, it can’t be bad ! The flow of the river was very strong, and the bridge was moving a bit under the steps”.

The sky was clear. The sun shined directly on us. I got sunburned on my hands where they were exposed to the sun. Alex’s neck was so red. We spent about half an hour on the top of the mountain chatting. I didn’t really wanna go down at all. Why was life made of choices? I was thinking hard almost every hour that I could live here in Sichuan forever and didn’t wanna come back to Vietnam. I preferred Ganzi than the Tagong Grassland.

Alex was very nice today, letting me walk slowly without rushing me. Each of us had 2 ice creams on the way back. I was breathing in ice and breathing out cream to encourage myself that the way wasn’t so long.

On the way back, we met a group of Tibetan women. They must be peasants. They were resting on a carpet or something like that and invited us to have some tea. As usual, they thought I was Chinese, but I explained that I came from Vietnam. They probably didn’t know where Vietnam was. I tried to talk to them in Chinese. Must have been the day when I spoke so many Chinese sentences.

We also met Gal on the way back. The Israeli guy said tomorrow he would go to Litang.

Had dinner by Alex’s choice like he did in Danba. But the food today wasn’t that good. It was too spicy for me.

Ganzi had a lot of barbecued carts on the sidewalks. We had beer with some barbecued food in front of a house. I liked it. I saw some Western backpackers copy us.

Back to the hotel, we did some back massage to each other before going to sleep. Those people here treated guests like prisoners. Noise was everywhere. It was hard to sleep well. I had a dream. I dreamed way too much in China than in Vietnam.

I heard fireworks again. Unluckily, there were no stars in the sky at night.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 8: Zhonglu Tibetan Village

As the hotel owner told us to go to the Zhonglu Tibetan Village at 8 AM, we went downstairs on time. However, we had to wait for 1 hour for an Aussie couple.

The Aussie couple were old, but they were nice. They talked to us a lot, about their trips to Eastern Europe and Mongolia, and many things else. Alex even talked to them about his robot work and science.

I liked the hike today a lot. The sky was clear. It was sunny. I preferred the sun to the clouds. I envied the Aussie woman who told me she moved out of London at 21 and traveled a lot. I wish I could travel that much.

We got back to Danba around 1:30 PM then went to see what I thought the famous Suopo Watchtowers. Didn’t cross a dangerous bridge because it was unlikely that we could climb those watchtowers. We talked to a young Austrian couple on the way back to the hotel.

On the road to the center in the evening, a Chinese guy came talking to me in English. He said he was traveling from Hunan and was studying architecture. A nice guy indeed. He also showed me where to buy a mosquito racket. Actually, I didn’t intend to buy any. Just wanted to make Alex see it.

Met a Western guy who speaks Chinese at the hotel lobby. I told Alex, “I so love him” and Alex said he spoke Vietnamese very well, too. “The point is that you don’t love me.” The Western guy helped us with info of where to stay in Ganzi. He said he was married and living in the north of Beijing. His wife is Chinese. Alex joked, “I want his wife.”

I missed the fireworks due to my shower. Then Alex told me it might be fireworks from a wedding or so.

Though the hotel was modern, Danba was a nice mixture of Chinese and Tibetan. I loved life here very much. I didn’t wanna go to anywhere else or go back home. Maybe after a wild and rainy Tagong, Danba made me feel a lot better.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 7: Tagong Grassland To Danba

We got up very early, then packed up and went downstairs. At 9 or so, we checked out. At 10 AM, we went out to find a bus or minivan to Ganzi. There was none. Even though it rained, many people didn’t leave Tagong. Maybe they all headed to the horse festival somewhere.

So we changed our plan to go to Danba instead. Cost us a lil bit too much. Alex accepted 70 yuans each regardless of my objection. We waited until 1 PM for the minivan to Danba to start. And then they moved us to another bus. Damn! The road to Bamei was awful, but fun. I met a Vietnamese Chinese there. He was trying to talk to us, but unluckily, we didn’t understand.

The road to Danba from Bamei was awesome. There was no tunnel but it was cool. I liked roads where one side was a mountain and the other was a river.

We ate noodles for dinner. I had to signal for the cook not to put chili into my bowl. Alex liked the kind of noodles there. I, on the contrary, didn’t!

Back to the hotel, we watched Jet Li’s movie on the TV. We only saw the ending part which featured some fighting between Jet Li and others.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 5: Kangding To Tagong Grassland

I got up early. Knowing that Alex didn’t have a good night sleep the day before, I didn’t wake him up. Waiting bored me so I decided to go down the hill to buy some dumplings.

Yesterday, I wanted to try the cable car, but today I had to cancel it because Alex woke up late. Thinking that his reading of comic books was very boring, I dragged him down the hill again to buy some ice creams. Ice creams here were effing good.

We checked out of the Zhilam Hostel and waited for the bus at the Princess Bridge. The bus came on time, but the Israeli guy Gal wasn’t. He must have been going to somewhere else. We had to leave him behind.

The bus reached the Tagong Grassland at 5 PM. We passed some places where there were clouds outside the small bus. I dozed off sometimes so couldn’t enjoy the view much.

Like in Kangding, we stayed in another dorm room but with more people. Though the hostel was operated by a Tibetan family whose living room was shared with the guests, there was no curtain in the dorm room this time so a guy heard of my Vietnamese talk with Alex. Then I learned that he spoke Vietnamese, too. He was a Vietnamese Danish guy. He was very nice and as old as the Israeli guy, 22 years old. He said he was studying Chinese. He also knew how to speak many other languages. He understood Vietnamese, but couldn’t speak much. I joked with Alex that Vietnamese was no more our secret language here. We spoke a little Vietnamese in Kangding.

Even though I was tired, I still walked around to find some peanuts and stuff to hang clothes in the room.

We had dinner at a place with an English menu, and bought some Coke. We met the Gal and his gang here. They were so noisy that they ruined my mood to eat.

Was clueless if there would be a horse racing festival tomorrow. But I already told my friend that I didn’t wanna ride any animal. I won’t ever do it in my life, I guess.

P.s.: Tagong’s altitude is said to be from 3,700m.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 4: Kangding

In the hostel, I heard that there was no bus to Garzê aka Ganzi. After discussing, Alex chose to go to Litang instead.

And then he decided to trek the mountain behind the hostel. We headed downhill for some food like Chinese pizzas, then went up to begin our journey. I didn’t know that it would be so hard to hike up a mountain. I was so surprised by Alex’s health. He might look like a nerd, but he was indeed a sportsman. We made it to the top around noon. The feet were like stone in my mouth, but I felt so happy and proud of myself somehow.

I was wrong again to think that going down was easier. The shoes hurt my big toes too much that I felt nothing at my feet on the latter half of the journey. Somewhere along the line, I couldn’t stand no more and decided to walk barefoot despite Alex’s objection. What a relief! One hour of walking barefoot was a lot of ease to me.

I intended to take the cable car in the afternoon, but because of my slow speed, we finished the hike too late, so I decided to delay the cable car visit until next morning.

Before dinner, I watched “The soloist part 2” movie with Alex. We wondered around after that, then hesitated but finally chose a rice restaurant. They served rice with spinach and tofu. We ate on the street, not even the sidewalk. People were staring at us, mostly at Alex, I guessed.

In the end, Alex’s destination moved from Litang to the Tagong because rumor had it that there would be a horse festival the day after tomorrow.

P.s.:
From zhilamhostel.com, I found out the mountain behind the Zhilam Hostel was called Bai Tu Kan. (updated on December 14, 2011.)

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 3: Chengdu To Kangding

Very early in the morning, we checked out of the guesthouse and went to the West Chengdu Bus Station (also called Chadianzi) at 8 AM. The tickets showed us that we had to wait 3 hours for the bus to start for Kangding.

Just when we left the city streets, there was a big traffic jam for 3 hours. Cars and buses and trucks ran everywhere on the road, making it worse. Because people in the other lane couldn’t move ahead when people in this lane didn’t retreat.

Then the road to Kangding held a lot of fun. I saw many beautiful scenes, river one side and mountain the other side of the road. I passed big tunnels. At last, I made it in Kangding around 8 PM.

On the way to find a hostel, we met an 22 year-old Israeli guy named Gal. As we didn’t know where to stay in Kangding, we went with him to find a place. Finally, we all headed to a place called Zhilam Hostel uphill. Its decoration has a feel of Tibetan though its owners are foreigners.

I was very tired. If Alex hadn’t carried my backpack, I couldn’t have made it to the hostel at all.

It was the first time I shared a dorm room with strangers. I was a lil bit bothered by the smelly stuff of a Western couple. There was a curtain dividing our places so I just hoped there was no thief.

At 9 PM, the 3 of us went out to find food. Because Gal didn’t eat pork, and there was only barbecued food and hotpot, I bought only milk, and tried an ice cream. The ice cream surprised me. It tasted like it was the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. Alex tried something like a Chinese pizza.

Then Alex and I watched the movie “The soloist” (part 1) together.

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 2: Chengdu Panda Base

We took a panda tour to visit the world famous giant pandas in the Chengdu Panda Base. They were so lovely, cutie… and all the beautiful adjectives I could use to describe an object. Even it was raining this morning, I felt so lucky to see the pandas in many of their positions: sleeping, eating breakfast, playing with each other, even lazily hanging on a tree.

Alex decided to have mapo tofu for lunch. That was my nightmare. It was so spicy I hardly ate anything except rice. Even Alex felt it spicy.

It was still raining in the afternoon. But we still took a stroll to the People’s Park with rented umbrellas. On the way back, we took the wrong bus. I realized that it went to the airport instead of the hostel.

It wasn’t late, so we stopped to discover the Wenshu Temple’s walkways. The streets around this temple were perfect for walking. We took some pictures here.

I told Alex to walk because maybe we could luckily find the shuttle car on the way back to the Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel. I was right. The driver was pleased to bring us back. We were lucky.

After finishing the second part of the Italian movie we watched yesterday, we found a good place to have dinner: I had wanton and Alex had noodles. Such a good meal!

I tried to buy 2 peaches in a fruit store. Dammit! Peaches in China looked big but tasted bad. There was mostly water inside.