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Jiuzhai Valley National Park, at Last

Jiuzhaigou is certainly a photographer's paradise.

View Beauty and the Freeze on automidori's travel map.

Jiuzhaigou, December 26th 2011

During my morning walk, I had tried to look for this park, because descriptions of my hostel, Jiuzhaigou Self Tour Youth Hostel, said that the location was close to the gate of the park. So I walked and walked but saw nothing like an entrance. I started to feel a bit weary and suspected it must be because of the thin air I'm not used to. I thought I'm not going to be foolish spending energy walking to the park but get exhausted by the time I'm inside the park. Taxi!

The taxi driver didn't turn on the meter. Yes, the park was close, if by taxi. I gave the driver a 5 yuan note and lingered a bit inside the taxi. He then handed me a 5 yuan bill. Not bad at all.

Here I am at the entrance of Jiuzhai Valley National Park.

This is the main building of the park. Anything from great photographs, articles, information (there's a small museum), winter clothes, gears, drinking water dispenser... anything, but English, you can get here.

At the ticketing booth I asked whether the bus ticket inside the park was like a pass that I can hop on and off as many times I'd like. The lady behind the ticketing booth didn't understand me. Suddenly I heard a lady's voice -- in English -- behind me,

"Can I help you?"

Afterward she became my interpreter and a new-found-friend. She's a Singaporean. She came with her brother and her mother. Wow! I admire her mother through and all. I felt like wanting to shout to everyone who had questioned my going to Jiuzhaigou in winter. "Look! See! She is a Singaporean, coming from a tropical country just like me, and she is obviously older than me. If you call me crazy, what will you call her?" And the idea of bringing a mom who is not too young anymore, to Jiuzhaigou in winter, must be an idea more courageous if not crazier, than mine.

I was yet far from the heart of the park, but my jaws already dropped.

Welcome to 九寨沟! The entrance fee during low season is 80 CNY.

If you take a bus to venture the park, you'll need another ticket for 80 CNY. This 80 CNY is for the whole day no matter how many times you hop on and off the bus.

One of the shots I took from my bus window.

Here's a video clip of some of the scenes from my bus.

This was our first stop.

I asked my new-found-Singaporean friend, "Do you mind if I just go with you?"

"Sure! But you must be patient with us. We cannot move too fast, because Mom is with us."

"That's okay," I replied. I was excited also because I saw that her brother was a keen photographer. It's nice to be in company of someone who has the same interest, isn't it?

At the entrance of the park, before I met them, a lady vendor had offered me a map of the park for 5 yuan. It was a good map. Clear information and direction were written on it. Plus, pinyin and English translation. Perfect. However, since I was walking with a "free-guide", I never looked up the map.

Here's my first shot of snow with an SLR. My first winter shot was in Japan, still with a super-manual film camera. It was more than 10 years ago. When I packed my winter clothes and sent them home, to a hot country right along the equator, I believed that there would be another winter for me. There was.

The lake has frozen and a blanket of snow covered the lake.

Even while I was in Japan, I never experienced a winter like this. I certainly couldn't have asked for a winter more than this. So cold and yet so beautiful.

This is the main road of the park.

At several points, there are underground bridges or tunnels. Here's one that leads to Five-Flower Lake.

It was not snowing at all while I was in the park. But I strongly suspect it did, during the night before.

Jiuzhaigou is certainly a photographer's paradise.

From now on, let the pictures speak for themselves.

We took a rest here. My friends ate their bread and snacks. I took my lunch box of fried rice I bought this morning. The rice was cold. Literally cold. Once I untied the wrapping, the strong Chinese smell pricked into my nose. I use to call this kind of smell bau encek. It's my own-invented-idiom in Indonesian language. It's difficult to translate. I like most of Sichuan's spicy cuisine, because they don't smell like this. This is a particular Chinese smell I don't like, to be honest. The Chinese food in my home country also smells like this. However, I have to finish it, if I want to continue absorbing the winter scenery of this park, which some call the land of fairies. Calorie and energy are vital in a climate like this. Oh ya, please note, there were no canteen, cafe, or such, inside the park. The good thing is that the water in my flask was still warm. It was worth being scolded by the shopkeeper this morning.

The unfrozen (yet) part...

To be continued, to the more frozen part. See you there!

Posted by automidori 04:02 Archived in China Tagged park china jiuzhaigou jiuzhai_valley_national Comments (9)

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