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.
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 city. 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.
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!
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.
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 carry me to pass. He was kind enough to do so.
Because of 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 voice 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 a lot of guys stared at me on the way back to the hostel. But I decided to ignore them 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 (praising my hair under the hoodie coat) 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 is 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. At 3:00 PM, I went back to the hostel watching a movie and waited for Alex. He was so strong. 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.
P.p.s: THIS PART I WROTE WHEN I GOT BACK HOME:
“Having been to Tagong Grassland is like having been to Lhasa.” That’s a nice saying I need in order to get rid of my fear of Tagong’s mountain trekking.