Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sights to See: Jiuzhaigou Valley, Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park/Jiuzhaigou Ravine, Sichuan Province, China


Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park/Jiuzhaigou Ravine  Daily 8am-6pm.  80-220 yuen, shuttle bus 80-90 yuen.  This UNESCO World Heritage Site and UN Biosphere Reserve contains some of China’s most dramatic wild landscapes.  Among the sights are steep peaks, ravines, forest, meadows, marshes, lakes, and waterfalls.  Three valleys--Rize Valley, Shuzheng Valley, and Zechawa Valley--form a “Y.”  The reserve holds 114 lakes, 47 springs, 17 groups of waterfalls, 11 rapids, and 5 tufa shoals.  Shuttle buses stop at each lake, but it is best to bus to the top of the valley and then walk down.  Wooden walkways circle each lake (beware that they can get slippery at waterfalls, where water spray dampens them). 

shuttle bus winds through Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
shuttle bus winds through Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China

Nuorilang Waterfall, which drains into Mirror Lake, is the widest highland waterfall in China and is this park’s symbol.

Nuorilang Waterfall in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
Nuorilang Waterfall in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China





This park is extremely popular with the Chinese and is very crowded, which is particularly amazing since it is so difficult to reach.  Since opening in 1984, tourist activity has increased every year.  As of 2004, the site averages 7,000 visits per day, with a 12,000-person quota enforced during high season, but only about 3,000 foreigners visit per season.  Despite these large numbers, the area is kept pristine.


Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China


Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China


Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China

 
bridal photo at Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
bridal photo at Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China


girls take selfie at Long Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
girls take selfie at Long Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China


Tibetan prayer flags at Long Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
Tibetan prayer flags at Long Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China


leaves float on Mirror Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China
leaves float on Mirror Lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in Sichuan Province, China



More Jiuzhaigou Valley Area Sights:

Introduction to Jiuzhaigou Valley area

Huanglong National Scenic Reserve (Yellow Dragon)/Huanglong Scenic Area 

Zhangzha Town

Songpan Ancient Town  

 


Things to do in nearby Chengdu.

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images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sights to See: Jiuzhaigou Valley, Introduction, Sichuan Province, China


JIUZHAIGOU VALLEY  280 miles north of Chengdu, in Nanping County.

The bus ride my tour group endured from Chengdu to the remote, mountainous Jiuzhaigou Valley, which is located on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, took nine hours.

stop at Maoxian area on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
stop at Maoxian area on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China


It seemed to take forever, with brutal restroom stops that cost 1 yuen/US16c and delivered open stalls with troughs down the center.  No privacy.  No flushing.  Sometimes running water.
typical trough toilet on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
typical trough toilet on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China

We made a lunch stop in Maoxian at Tu Giang Restaurant where we enjoyed Qiang nationality items that include yak meat dishes as well as the always-popular Sichuan chicken.  After, we bought tangerines from locals outside who weighed the purchase with old-time wood-pole scales.
chicken soup in Tu Giang Restaurant on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
chicken soup in Tu Giang Restaurant on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China

wood-pole scale seen on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
wood-pole scale seen on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China

At 6,000 to 9,000 feet we came to Barrel Lake, where beautiful long-hair white yaks awaited mounting for photographs.  This stop also had a mini-bazaar where we saw exotic giant mushrooms and I purchased some cracked whole pecans that were deliciously spiced and made a great treat to enjoy on the bus.
white yak at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
white yak at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China


mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China

unusual giant mushrooms at mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
unusual giant mushrooms at mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China

exotic spiced pecans at mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
exotic spiced pecans at mini bazaar at Barrel Lake on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China

The altitude in the Jiuzhaigou Valley ranges from 8,000 to 16,000 feet.  Altitude sickness is a definite possibility, so it is a good idea to pack medications and remedies recommended by your doctor, and to take your time and not over exert.  Oxygen canisters can be rented throughout the area, and in a god-forsaken town on our way up my group encountered oxygen water being sold by nurses in uniform for 100 yuen/US$16 per bag.  
nurse dispenses oxygen water on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
nurse dispenses oxygen water on the way to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China

Also be aware that Sichuan Province is frequently struck by quakes.  Just this year on August 9, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Zhangzha killed 19 people and injured 247.  Another one in Yingxiu town in May 2008 killed almost 70,000 people.  Fortunately, there were no quakes during my visit.

On this trip we were really out there.

In spite of these travel deterrents, the Chinese people come here in great numbers for the beauty and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Referred to by some as "China's Switzerland," this spectacularly scenic area is particularly beautiful in fall, when foliage is changing color (winter it is extremely cold).  This is the habitat of the giant panda (although sightings are extremely rare) and the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey.

This region is also home to a small population of Tibetan and Qing people.  We visited several villages, where prayer flags flew and where reasonably-priced, locally-produced goods were sold.  I bought a beautiful embroidered cloth-and-beads necklace and a lovely floral “pashmina” scarf--both of which I’m sure are probably for sale on Canal Street in NYC--but so far I haven’t encountered them anywhere else.  Attending one of their evening cultural performances is a must, as is sampling some of the typical local foods that you’ll see in your hotel’s buffet. 
Tibetan village in Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
Tibetan village in Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China

yak butter tea in Tibetan village in Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China
yak butter tea in Tibetan village in Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province of China






More Jiuzhaigou Valley Area Sights:

Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park/Jiuzhaigou Ravine 

Huanglong National Scenic Reserve (Yellow Dragon)/Huanglong Scenic Area 

Zhangzha Town

Songpan Ancient Town  


Things to do in nearby Chengdu.

Things to do in China.  

More China items.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, October 20, 2017

Good Eats: Qin Shan Zhai Restaurant, Chengdu, China


Qin Shan Zhai Restaurant  No.247 Temple of Marquis Street, Wuhou District.  Located just next door to the historic and cultural site--the Temple of Marquis--this two-story restaurant consists of a warren of dining rooms that evoke old Sichuan culture and the customs of Old Chengdu.  The specialty here is medicinal foods, or the Chinese Medicated Diet, which is a blend of traditional Chinese medicine and culinary philosophy.  It is the first restaurant in China to advocate this cuisine. 

hot pepper dish at Qin Shan Zhai Restaurant in Chengdu, China
hot pepper dish at Qin Shan Zhai Restaurant in Chengdu, China

The signature dish---Ba Wang Bie Ji, named after the movie “Farewell My Concubine”--is an aromatic chicken soup made with various medicinal herbs.  When the soup turns white it is done.  The dish is good for your health and hard to find outside of Chengdu.  The restaurant is also a feast for your eyes, with a miniature classic garden featuring rockeries, corridors, pavilions, and bridges blending with waterfalls and plants. Sometimes, short cultural performances are presented that sometimes include snippets of Peking Opera. 





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images and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Great Sleeps: Tibet Hotel Chengdu, Chengdu, China


Tibet Hotel Chengdu  No.10 North People's Road, +86)28-83183388.  4 stars.  271 rooms; 17 floors.  Fitness center.  2 restaurants.  No pets.  Free parking.  Situated on the banks of the Jinjiang River adjacent to the downtown area, this atmospheric hotel features comfortable rooms with raised bathtubs and Tibetan touches.  Bathroom amenities are contained in a decorative box.  The gift shop consists of a museum-like Tibetan Culture Shopping Promenade that offers spectacular treasures for sale, and a full-size artificial yak resides in the spacious lobby.  Though I missed the Cloud Incense Bar, where you can “making friends with incense,” it does sound intriguing and worth seeking out.  Tibetan folk songs are sung and Tibetan tea is served every evening in the bar from 8:30 to 9 p.m., and a Tibetan performance and banquet is sometimes held in the Red Palace Banqueting Hall.  

lobby of Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
lobby of Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China


artificial yak in lobby of Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
artificial yak in lobby of Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China


gift shop arcade at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
gift shop arcade at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
 

guest room at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
guest room at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
 

guest room bathroom at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
guest room bathroom at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China


view from guest room at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
view from guest room at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China


Tibetan breakfast with yak butter tea at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China
Tibetan breakfast with yak butter tea at Tibet Hotel Chengdu in Chengdu, China


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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Good Eats: Huang Cheng Lao Ma, Chengdu, China


Huang Cheng Lao Ma  20, 2nd Ring Rd South, 3rd Section.  In a city famous for hot pot, this is the most famous of the hot pot restaurants.

seating along conveyor belt at Huang Cheng Lao Ma hot pot restaurant in Chengdu, China
seating along conveyor belt at Huang Cheng Lao Ma hot pot restaurant in Chengdu, China

This traditional meal is served in untraditional style here and includes a buffet that alone could fill you up.  You can choose from dim sum-style dumplings, fresh fruit, and salad, and also mix up your own dipping sauce.  Diners have a choice of sitting at small tables, or at a long raised bar where a moving conveyor belt presents constantly changing selections for you to put in your personal hot pot.  Hot pots come in mild, hot, and extra hot (hot is so hot that I didn’t want to find out what extra hot is like).  Opting for the basic yuanyang style (half spicy, half mild) seems like the way to go.  I especially liked the mushrooms, but did not even try the fish heads.  Rumor has it that Michelle Obama ate here.  A free “children-keeping” area is on the second floor for under age 6, and a tea house is on the fourth floor.  



 

More things to do in Chengdu.

Things to do in China.  

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More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

image and video ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers