Nǐhǎo from Jiuzhaigou, China

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Jiuzhaigou, pronouced Ju-Zay-Go, is one stunning part of the world and its understandable why it’s a hotspot for so many Chinese tourists. A haven of natural beauty, stunning azure blue lakes surrounded by massive snow peaked mountains and verdant forestry. None of the photos below have been edited. Jiuzhaigou really is that stunning.

We grabbed a 10 hour bus ride across western China to go to this sexy escape from China’s sprawling metropolises. The bus ride itself was pretty brutal. At first it seemed straight forward enough but the closer we got to Jiuzhaigou the crazier the roads became and the crazier-er our driver drove.The roads go from huge motorways leading out of the city and turn into crazy hairpin bends and twisted lanes around huge mountains, some 3,000 metres above sea level. Our driver never changed speeds,flooring it around these suicidal bends, cutting blind corners, over taking without any idea what might come around the corner and generally being a total dickhead. Most of the passengers seemed unfazed by it.  As we made our way into Jiuzhaigou we hit a huge tailback, thank god as it meant this asshole could slow the hell down. Turns out there were 2 rescue cranes taking up most of the road as they attempted to pull an overturned petrol truck out of the river flowing next to the road. This truck obviously drove like a moron as well and ended up arse over face in the river. After an hour they eventually lifted it out and cleared the road.

We arrived into Jiuzhaigou and grabbed a cab to our hostel (after getting lost the first time), argued over the price as he tried to charge us more for his dumb mistake, told him where to go and then spent the next 45 minutes communicating with an online translator with the hotel reception about our booking and how much we had to pay. Thoroughly awkward. Finally we made it into our room. Jiuzhaigou is rarely tramped by westerners so no one can speaks any English. Goes to show how much we take English for granted. Our distinct lack of Chinese has made for some difficult but hilarious moments. We ate locally in a restaurant and had to draw the pictures of a pig, a cow, a chicken and even peanuts just to describe what we wanted. The restaurant owners were in hysterics over it and called local passerby’s in to look at our order. It seemed to work though as we had some impressive munch based on a couple of doodles.

We slept early in order to waken and beat the bus loads of crowds to Juizhaigou’s national park. We didn’t. THOUSANDS of tour groups and ignorant assholes flooded into the park. The national park itself is huge, about 16km in length leading up into the mountains and divided into 3 definite sections in the shape of a Y. We decided to grab a bus to the top and make our way down on foot hoping to escape the crowds. The queue to the buses was equally hilarious as it was infuriating. Hundreds squeezed and pushed and fought their way onto the buses while bus instructors argued and screamed at them to form an orderly queue. I think this guy forgot these people were Chinese tourists. They all jump the barriers, forming a massive crowd around the bus doors pushing and squeezing onto the bus with zero respect for each other.  we couldn’t help but laugh and shake our heads at the same time. Eventually we squeeze on and make our way to the top, and finally get to escape the masses of morons.

To cut a long venture short, we wandered down from the top in to the Tibetan villages near the beginning, walking through forests, valleys and viewing some of the most beautiful lakes and gorges along the way. Each lake is stunningly blue, and super see through or reflective, some resembling mirrors. Surrounding them mountains poked the clouds and forests created huge beautiful valleys to explore. The walk was long but totally stunning. In essence this is how we expect the likes of Canada to look. Again it’s a pity the government here has turned it into a money spinner once again. To be honest the photos do the talking so I’ll let them. We eventually made it to the villages that have been ultimately ruined by tourism. Many of them locals have uprooted and left and those remaining cash in on the armies of photographers wandering through. Their old Tibetan designs are stunning and awash with bright colours, flags and religious artifacts.

We eventually made it to the exit after about 6 solid hours of walking, and escaped the masses once again to head back to our accommodation with a few deserved beers. After the odd Skype session we crashed hard and woke the next day ready to do pretty much damn all. We had one day to kill as our flights were the following day. We would have booked to leave sooner but the flights were inexplicably expensive so wasting one day in Jiuzhaigou meant a cheaper flight to Xi’an. we wandered around again tasting all sorts of food, and eventually grabbed a few more beers to chill out with and ended up watching ‘The Wolf on Wall Street’ in our room. Damn good show.

Again we ate locally and chilled out waiting on our flight to Xi’an early the next morning. (A short but pretty epic wee trip to Jiuzhaigou despite not staying long or doing much other than trekking thorough the national park.) Our taxi ride to the airport was ridiculous, nearly crashing twice into oncoming buses as our moronic driver cut corners and overtook busses on blind turns. It baffles me why they drive some damn dangerously. We made it to the airport and waited for our awesome flight out, ascending over amazing mountain ranges that cut through the blanket of clouds below.

Next stop, Xi’an.

3 Comments
  1. Hi there!

    Pics look amazing of the National Park, I def think I could sell the idea to Blayney Ramblers of organising their next trip there, I wish!! I think I’ll have to settle for Donegal for now.

    Happy Belated Birthday wishes to you both.

    Love Jennifer, Dermot, Jamie and Mark

  2. Awesome pictures man! Wow this place is really impressive!
    I can see exactly what you mean, I thought of Canada as soon as I seen that scenery, looks like way up in the rockies.
    It looks like that iconic picture of lake Moraine in Banff!

    This looks like a place I have to go when in China!
    Keep it up dude!

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