Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 15: Chengdu To Hanoi

At 8 in the morning, I went downstair to have breakfast at the hostel restaurant. But I opted for a dish of Taiwan rice instead of the buffet. I decided to stay inside for the whole morning because I’d get tired of waiting at the airport later.

I checked out of the hostel at noon, and got to the airport by metro. Because I was 1-hour early, I tool a stroll around the airport and took some pictures. It seemed to change a lot compared to the picture of 10 years ago in my memory.

I guessed Langmusi was the best place of my trip. I even preferred Langmusi to Danba, but there was no special place I’d like to return. Next time, I’d like to see more of China besides Sichuan.

Overall, I have traveled 1,756km on this Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture trip, sitting around 29 hours 22 minutes in a car or a bus. And according to Pedometer, I have walked 262,269 steps during these two weeks, rounding to 125km on feet fortnightly.

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Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 10: Barkam To Mt. Siguniang

Barkam to Aba/Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture was like Kangding to Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, meaning it was the seat of the prefecture. There was a river flowing alongside the town, too. But I felt that Barkam seemed to be much less crowded than Kangding and had no sign of international travelers.

Today was a great public transport experience. Because the driver said 8:30AM the bus to Xiaojin would depart, this morning, I came to the station early to buy a new ticket. Turned out I was too early, again. The bus would depart around noon, again.

When I went back to the hostel for a seat, they invited me to have breakfast. So kind. Or they didn’t know that I had already checked out. And it was a square meal with green bean and rice porridge, two Chinese steamed buns (mantou), a boiled egg, peanuts, and pickled cucumber. Best breakfast so far.

It was a bumpy bus ride to Xiaojin via winding roads and passes. Sometimes, I thought the bus couldn’t get through some big stone piles on the road. But thanks to the onsite wheel loader and rotary mixer, plus the help of the bus staff, there was a connecting bus waiting for us somewhere on the way to Mt. Siguniang.

The 10-hour on the bus ride yesterday was not as tiring as 6 hours today; however, I enjoyed this crowded bus from Xiaojin to Mt. Siguniang, and moreover, kindness of Chinese people.

They stopped near the Changping Valley site under the rain, so I picked that hostel right there. Its decoration looked warm and comfortable.

The Changping Inn hostel’s owner didn’t speak English, but I found their bookcase interesting.

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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 improving 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 like they said.

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 (25 each). From what the driver said, I guessed Langmusi was not so far away.

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

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Trekking Ta Nang (Lam Dong)

My company organized a 2-day trip to trek Ta Nang for managers. Despite advice to practice before the trip, I didn’t think it would be as hard a the hikes/treks I did in Kangding, Danba, or Garzê in 2009. Turned out I was wrong somehow.

The day before the trek, we finished our work early and left the office for the Tan Son Nhat airport. We flew to Lien Khuong Airport at Dalat and then checked in to the hotel.

The next morning, we started off quite late, and only after the farm truck arrived at a small house did we begin to really walk off the paved area, around 10AM. It was very sunny, but I didn’t feel any tired in the morning because we only walked through a meadow. We were taking a rest real soon, around 1PM. After siesta, I began to realize that we had to climb over some steep slopes. Only at those places was I slower than others.

We reached to the tents at Ta Nang top at 4PM. Too early. I learned that we walked just about 8km today. My thighs hurt a bit.

I had a really fun night with my colleagues. We had a warm dinner by the fire, then we sang the night away. Though I brought my own backpack all the way up to the top, I had to admire the health of porters who brought almost everything that we needed.

This was the first time I slept in a tent on a mountain. It was a good experience though.

We woke up early the next morning, and helped unload the tents before going down. Because we had to take the flight home in Lam Dong, we didn’t have a chance to continue but go back. The road was not too difficult but there were many turns. Unluckily, I saw no waterfall.

Still I had the fear of crossing a very tiny tree bridge over a stream.

We were present at the small house around 10. I really walked slowly on the way back to talk with some female colleagues my age. The best thing about this trip was to connect with other managers.

I guessed I’d have a good tan now after the trek, and sore legs for a few days ahead.

The top wasn’t as high (as in China), my health wasn’t as good as I had been 9 years ago, but I wanna trek more mountains after this tiring trip.

My new pair of trekking shoes were a bit damaged after the trek. I’d have to bring them to the seller to repair soon.

Check out the video of the trip done by the organizer team:

Looking back at the trip, it was my most memorable moment in this company. The previous company trip wasn’t as delighted.

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The Highest Place I’ve Ever Been To

A moutain top of the Tagong Grasslands (Sichuan, China) is the highest place I’ve ever been to. Tagong alititude is from 3,700m which is higher than the Fansipan peak of Vietnam. Alex said that there were no trees at this height, only grass.

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