Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 15: Chengdu To Hanoi, Transit In Guangzhou

I didn’t have a good night sleep so I felt a lil bit tired after waking up. Alex said that he didn’t wanna miss breakfast. Alex looked forward to a Western breakfast, but they served a Chinese one. Ha ha! But I liked this kind of a light breakfast.

We rent a bike next door, at Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel, to cycle around the block. It was great to ride in Chengdu because there was no rain nor shine. I realized that the Chinese girl style of riding bicycles and e-bikes was a lot different from the Vietnamese ones. They rode bikes like guys did. No exception! It was raining a lil bit after our 3 hours of cycling.

Checked out of Angelica Hotel 5 mins before 12 noon. I liked the advertising panel near the hotel that says, ‘Red is the new attitude.’ At last, I bought some cookies as a gift for our colleagues. We had a simple lunch in a near-by store with vegetables only.

Because we still had a lot of time, Alex wanted to try a real coffee. In a building, we found a coffee shop which looked normal from outside but was of high class inside. The expensive Italian coffee here cost a lot more than what I ever tried in Vietnam.

Again, we got on the wrong bus 300 to the North Bus Station instead of the airport. At last, the bus made it to the airport soon enough for us to board the plane. We had a lil bit of trouble because Alex used his name to book my ticket, so we needed help from the China Southern Airlines for some changes.

There was no delay, but we still ran at Guangzhou Baiyunport again because I wanted to be sure we could be on time for the next international plane to Hanoi. I had a fever and was afraid of the health check and customs clearances at Guangzhou and Noi Bai airports. But turned out everything was okay. We arrived at Noi Bai airport at 10:30 PM.

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Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 14: Danba To Chengdu

We got up very early, packed up very fast. We shared a cab with an Asian guy, costing 3 yuans each. We were early for the bus so I had a light breakfast. The drive to Chengdu got us stuck in 2 traffic jams, one of which was caused by our bus driver. He hit a car and quarreled with them for about 1 hour. The we got stuck in another traffic jam spot somewhere near Ya’an where we had been stuck on the way to Kangding on day 3 (???).

We returned to Chengdu around 7 PM. Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel was all booked. Because we had no advance reservation, we went to the hotel next door called Angelica Hotel (安祺高酒店). The price here was cheaper, and I thought this was the best accommodation we had stayed in China so far.

We went to eat noodles and wonton dinner at the place Alex picked the last time because he liked the noodles here a lot. The weather was kinda hot so I didn’t enjoy my wonton much.

We counted money. Except for the camera, I only spent very little here. That was a surprise to me! But then think again, we ate little and I must have dropped some weights after this trip.

We’ll have breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant the next morning. Yahoo!

Continue ReadingGarzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 14: Danba To Chengdu

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 couldn’t keep going forward anymore 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. 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.

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 didn’t have was Facebook.

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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.

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. Thanks to another Chinese girl who spoke English, we could book the bus ticket for the 6:30 AM bus the day after tomorrow. 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.

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.

Continue ReadingGarzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 12: Garzê To Danba

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. I took a pic of a cosmos flower instead. Later I found out it has a beautiful Chinese name gesanghua after a legendary story of a Chinese princess marrying a Tibetan king.

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

Continue ReadingGarzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 11: Garzê Monastery

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 random 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 copying us.

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

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Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 9: Danba To Garzê

Alex and I met Gal at the bus station where we tried to buy 2 tickets to Ganzi aka Kandze. Gal was on the bus with us. There was another fireworks when the bus was about to start for Ganzi. It took us 11 hours to reach there. The bus stopped a few times at nowheres. Once, the bus driver stopped to take a nap while waiting for the other driver to come back.

The sky was clear somehow, but it still rained in the afternoon. I slept a lot on the bus. My shoulders were burned a bit due to the sun yesterday.

Actually, I didn’t know why we went so far to this town. Maybe just because the name sounded similar to the prefecture.

P.s.: Ganzi’s altitude is said to be from 3,400m.

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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 scientific research.

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 downtown 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 show Alex how it looked like.

Met a Western guy who speaks Chinese at the hotel lobby. I told Alex, “I so love him,” and Alex said he could speak Vietnamese very well, too. 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.

Continue ReadingGarzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 8: Zhonglu Tibetan Village

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. 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.

P.s.: Danba’s altitude is said to be from 2,000m.

Continue ReadingGarzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 7: Tagong Grassland To Danba

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 6: Tagong Grassland

We woke up early at 6:30 AM, had some peanuts for breakfast, then trekked the Tagong mountains with my sandals. I have to admit that my sandals were not made for going on dam places like these grass fields. Sometimes, I had to jump over or Alex had to lift me up to pass. He was kind enough to do so.

Because of the heavy rain yesterday evening and night, there was water everywhere. Anyway, I tried to keep up with Alex. We couldn’t cross the river, that’s why we made it a long way to the top of a hill. Because the path was so small, I decided that my health and fear of heights weren’t good enough for trekking more. My speed must have restrained Alex because he wanted to do a big round passing several mountains. Without me, he could enjoy his trek even more. I parted ways with Alex and found my own way to go back to the hostel.

The way down was scary. I was very proud to stand alone on the top of the mountain, but then looking down made me frightened. I was scared of heights. There was no track, and the way was steep enough I had to walk very slowly and choose a good place to step on. At least, I wasn’t scared of snakes because there was no bush here. The fright didn’t go because after the mountain came the big field with muddy areas. And I saw some vultures whose voices scared me all the more. I nearly ran pass that field because I was afraid of becoming “the elephant of Tran Hung Dao”. After that, the thrill wasn’t over when some guys stared at me on the way back to the hostel. But I decided to pretend to be calm and took a leisure walk back. I left my camera with Alex, so I couldn’t take any pic on the way back.

Alex came back then we had fried rice for lunch with some eggs. The food made me miss my Daddy.

I decided to take a nap for about 1 hour then Alex woke me up and we went to see the golden temple near the town center. Unluckily, there was no way in, so we went to the Lhagang Monastery instead. This was the monastery near our hostel. We bought the tickets but dammit, the place was under reconstruction, we couldn’t see many things.

Alex got a lil bit sunburned on his face, but I still encouraged him to trek the mountain behind the monastery by himself. At 3:00 PM, I went back to the hostel watching a movie and waited for Alex. He was so healthy. I envied him.

I was the first person that marked on Vietnam on the world map in this hostel. I was so proud of myself.

P.s.: Later, Alex told me that Tagong was his favorite place on our trip. I understood why.

P.p.s: THIS PART I WROTE WHEN I GOT BACK HOME:
“Having been to Tagong Grassland is like having been to Lhasa.” That was a nice saying I needed in order to get rid of my fear of Tagong’s mountain trekking.

Continue ReadingGarzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 6: Tagong Grassland