According to Pedometer app, I walked the most steps in my Chinese trips:
1. July 5: 31,497 steps ~ 15.12 km* (in Chengdu)
2. July 6: 29,337 steps ~ 14.08 km (in Chengdu)
3. July 3: 28,849 steps ~ 13.85 km (in Mt. Siguniang)
4. June 24: 23,878 steps ~ 11.46 km (in Dujiangyan and Chengdu)
5. June 26: 23,233 steps ~ 11.15 km (in Songpan and Mounigou)
6. June 30: 20,196 steps ~ 9.7 km (in Langmusi)
7. June 27: 20,136 steps ~ 9.67 km (in Huanglong)
8. May 18: 19,550 steps ~ 9.38 km (in Wulingyuan And Fenghuang Old Town)
9. Nov 5: 17,348 steps ~ 8.33 km (in Shanghai)
10. Jun 23: 16,136 steps ~ 7.75 km (in Saigon, Hanoi, and Chengdu)
* My stride length is 48 cm (80% of the number in the app 60cm).
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.
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.
I woke up early at around 4AM to be present at the nearest metro early. Turned out I was a lil bit early because I was there at 5:50AM just to find out that the metro would only be open at 6:06.
Took more than half an hour to reach the Chadianzi Bus Station at 6:45. My destination of Songpan didn’t appear in the ticket machines, then I had to ask for help from the help desk.
7 hours on the bus without any traffic delay, I was at Songpan around 3PM. Earlier than I thought. As we descended from the bus, a lot of drivers asked to take us to a nearby hostel, or to Huanglong or Mounigou. But I decided that I should spend the rest of the afternoon strolling the Songzhou Ancient City nearby first.
As I booked the Youranju Hostel while on the bus, the hostel owner thought I was Thai. (Maybe it was because I used a Thai sim card for roaming here). I arranged with her for the 4 of us to visit Mounigou tomorrow in a rented car with other 2 British travelers living in the same hostel. This place had a nice garden with blossom flowers, flag decoration, and some maps on the wall. Especially, some tables and chairs outside were really inviting people to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere.
As we were all hungry, we decided to have a late lunch with the hostel restaurant beside.
When we headed for the ancient wall, the main gate was closed for renovation(?!) so we took a longer way around the wall. Some of the wall look rusty and a bit scary. Along the way, there was even a close gate which made us turned around. Too much walking until we went inside and saw some touristy shopping streets near the Songpan Bridge. It must be the busiest place of this town. But there weren’t many travelers around here. (In fact, from the hostel, I saw more people leaving than coming).
Inside the ancient city was a big playground. Here I saw the largest crowd of people square dancing at the same time in my life. 3 of my companions joined them in some parts. Next to it was some kids playing basketballs and other sport activities. Maybe you could learn why middle-aged and old women liked plaza dancing so much in my video below:
On the way back, I saw sunset around 8PM. When it got dark, it got colder, too. My body was too tired that I took a Tibetan massage at a place next to the hostel with a price of 78 yuans for 1 hour, much cheaper than I thought. To my surprise, the girl didn’t apply any oil in my skin. There was no hot stone, either. In fact, she didn’t even ask me to take my clothes off. She massaged kind of every millimeter of my skin and comforted me to relax when she knew I was hurt. I hoped I’d feel better tomorrow.
15 degrees celsius outside and in order to sleep, I had to put on my hat with ear flaps, 2 layers of shirts, 2 layers of blankets and even had to turn on the electric mattress.