Rivers, tunnels, earthquake, and snow.
23.12.2011 - 02.01.2012
From Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou, December 25th 2011
"By bus?!? Why not just take a plane?"
The immediate answer that came out from my mouth was only, "It's cheaper by bus."
But the more people questioned me, the more I started to think myself, why did I on the first place decided to take a bus? This trip to Jiuzhaigou had been a trip I planned more than half a year ago. During that period of time I had another trip to prepare for and take, SEA Trip by Any Means. Therefore, there were things I had decided long time ago but forgot the reason why. Let me sort them out now.
- I read in several places in the internet that flights from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou in winter are occasionally delayed due to bad weather, such as snow storm. In my personal opinion, a flight for short distance doesn't actually shorten the time of travel. For sure I have to be at the airport like 2 hours prior to the flight departure. Then once I get off the aircraft, I can't just walk away and call a taxi. Hence, I thought, if my flight to Jiuzhaigou turned out to be delayed, I might after all spend the same amount of time as taking a bus. That is if the flight isn't delayed until the next day as mentioned by someone in the internet according to his own experience.
- I also read that travelers who fly directly from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou have a bigger chance of shock because of the high altitude. On the other hand, traveling on road allows one's body more time to adjust with the altitude. Knowing where I come from and that I'm no longer a teenager, I paid full attention to this advice.
So my number one reason of taking a bus wasn't cost, actually.
I took a taxi from Lazy Bones to Xin Nan Men Bus Station, because the staffs at Lazy Bones told me that there might still be no bus in such an early morning. It was six o'clock when I left Lazy bones. A taxi was waiting right in front of Lazy Bones. It was quick ride and cost only 11 yuan.
Having an hour still before my 7:40 bus, I took breakfast at a nearby restaurant. Speaking of taste, this wasn't bad at all. The only thing I didn't like of this was only that it was so greasy. It was almost like I was drinking oil juice. Oh ya, this cost 7 yuan.
This is Xin Nan Men Bus Station.
Other buses to popular scenic areas like Emeishan, also boarded from here. Hmmm, I have the feeling that I'll be here again one day.
Inside the bus station.
My bus to Jiuzhaigou.
Outside Chengdu City, we stopped at another bus station. This bus station was bigger. I don't know the name of the place. Some new passengers got on my bus. I struggled on taking the chance to go to the rest room. Ah, traveling in China always makes going to the toilet a tough decision to make.
The rest room appeared to be not as "scary" as I had feared.
Here's a short recording of the bus station.
Immediately after we came out from our first tunnel, the scenery unfolded its beauty along the way. It was like waking up in wonderland. I was completely satisfied that I had taken a bus. The 143 CNY ticket and the 10-hours journey, I called worthwhile.
Amidst of the stunning beauty of turquoise river running through valleys made of rocky mountains, an opposite view laid aside. It was the remains of the devastating earthquake of Sichuan on May 12th 2008. Some passengers on my bus snapped their pocket cameras.
It has been more than 3 ago. I can't imagine how this place was like on May 2008.
Painted on this rock is: May 12th Mega Earthquake. Definitely, it was a moment many would not be able to forget.
Rocks have filled the river. The landscape is badly wounded.
Here's a short recording of just a little part the ruins that scattered all along the way.
Many newly-built houses were to be seen. These people are with no doubt rebuilding their lives from scratch.
Our bus stopped here for lunch. This restaurant, too, seemed just recently built.
Welcome everybody, to World Natural Heritage, Huanglong! Yeah... but Huanglong is closed in winter. So was I told by an agent from Jiuzhaigou a month before I left.
In spite of the devastating remains of the earthquake, I would like to assure you that the road has completely recovered. No additional agony will be added to your 10-hours bus ride. Well, for me it wasn't an agony at all.
All the way in and out tunnels, up, up, the mountain and down, down, the valley, I could not but admit that these people's ancestors, my ancestors, did build The Great Wall of China. Road-engineering, obviously runs in the Chinese blood.
Just a common scene of winter, I guess. No crops.
I'm visualizing how this would look like in spring.
We are approaching snow...
My mind flashed back to the time went I went to Fuji Mountain with a group of Indonesian friends. We tapped the bus window with our hands like kindergartens and shouted, "Snow! Snow!"
Someone said to me that on the contrary of taking a flight, her concern of taking a bus to Jiuzhaigou during winter is the snowy road. Well, I can't argue with that. But on the other hand, accident, death, can happen just anywhere, even at your very home. I don't mean to be careless, though. I heard that she took a flight and the weather was good and experienced no delay. Good then. Good for me who took a bus and good for her who took a flight.
In case you are wondering how snowy the road had been, here's a short recording which will hopefully give you the picture.
This is just about the way to Jiuzhaigou. The way back from Jiuzhaigou would be more breathtaking.
As soon as I arrived at the bus station in Jiuzhaigou, I purchased my return ticket to Chengdu. I managed to use whatever Mandarin I could and the lady behind the counter seemed proud to practice her English with me. However, there was a miscommunication about my request for seat number 3. Maybe my intonation wasn't correct, so she misunderstood me. She thought I meant to buy tickets for 3 persons. And then like the opera of changing mask, she turned from sweet to sour. She slammed the ticket in front of me.
When I went out of the office, there were no taxis anymore. For a second I was scared. The place looked quiet. How can I get to my hotel? But there were 2 ladies who had sit on the opposite next to my row in the bus. One of them could speak English. She told me that there's a guy offering an accommodation and she invited me to join them in order to share cost. I answered that I already booked a room. I showed her my little piece of paper with the address on it. She gave it to the guy next to her.
I don't know what they said. I saw the guy nodding but while walking away. What if they don't want to take me? It seems that there's nobody else here. The day was still bright, though.
"So?" I asked the lady who could speak English.
"Oh!" she turned her head to me as if she had forgotten I was trailing behind them. "Coma with us! He says that your hotel is not far from here. We will pass your hotel."
The guy kindly carried my suitcase into the back of the car.
Inside the car I asked just-found-angel, "How much is my share?"
Huahahaha, she laughed. "You don't need to pay!"
"No, let me share."
"You don't need to."
I thought I would just put a 10 yuan bill into this guy's hand when I get off. I remembered that the taxi fare from Lazy Bones to Xin Nan Men Bus Station was 11 yuan. So if he says that my hotel isn't far, 10 yuan would be suitable.
The hotel I booked through Agoda, Self Tour Youth Hostel, really wasn't far. The guy got off the car and kindly carried my suitcase down. I thrusted my 10 yuan bill into his hand. He refused in an instant and looked at me like: What are you doing?
"No, no! You don't need to pay!" said my just-found-angel.
"It's alright," I said. "I want to pay."
She bowed in front of me and replied, "Welcome to China!"
Off they went.