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Thursday 03.08.2012

We left Songpan and arrived at our hotel Hualong Villa around 10.30 am. A big hotel  hidden behind a large numbers of tourist busses. There was no village, only a hotel and some stores centered around the entrance of the National Park. The ride to this hotel was spectacular with amazing views of the mountains around us and.. we broke our altitude record again. The top of the mountain pass was at an altitude of 3,920 m. Here we stopped and made some wonderful pictures that we hope you will enjoy. Too bad we were not the only ones here. Actually, wherever we go in China, we are never alone. The Chinese also have their holidays right now and, after all, there a lot of Chinese .....

Since the weather was great we decided to go into the park right away. You never know what weather it will be the next day and the weather reports on the internet have been not reliable so far. So after dumping our bags in the hotel room we walked to the ticket office. But first, we needed some money from the ATM ...... Oops... not working and nobody was able to tell us anything about it because there was only the machine ... and the people in the ticket office were not helpful (to say the least). 

We counted our money and discovered we had enough for the entrance and 2 really cheap dinners. But, after this day we still had 2 days to go at that site. Anyway, we bought the tickets, went by bus to another entrance to go up the mountain by cable car. The difference in hight was more than 500 m. A lot of stairs to climb, and since we are not used to climbing (unlike others we know) we took the "lazy" trail. Once we arrived at the second entrance we saw a queue of at least 200 m. But, it turned out to be only a 30 minute wait. This was of course because, according to a sign above our heads, we all “kept in a rowing manner” (see picture). Again, there are signs in English everywhere but nobody has any idea what they say.

Up on the mountain it still was a long walk (about 3 km) to the first terrace from where we had a small overview. Here was also a junction, the low road and the high road. Hilke decided to wait there so Paul would take the high road to take pictures there. That took him about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Once Paul was back we started to walk down a very good wooden pathway and stairs.  

Quite a few times we wondered what the real tourist attraction there was, the wonderful lakes or two big white smiling people. It was again amazing how many people would like to take pictures of us. All part of the fun. And amongst the thousands and thousands of Chinese tourists, we detected only a handful of western tourists. Strange, because the park, as you will see, is really amazing.

After almost 5 hours of walking, we arrived at the exit of the park, and walked to a nearby restaurant to have dinner. Alas, they only had noodle soup with Yak meat. Since it was cheap and we didn't had the energy to go and find another place to eat, we just ordered that, ate it, payed it and went to our hotel. A beautiful day!

Friday 04.08.2012

After an interesting breakfast (not tasty, no tea, no coffee, only something that looked like warm Yak milk, vegetables, dumplings and cake) we decided to try the ATM once more. Again, not working. So here we are in the middle of China with almost no money and still 2 more days here. What to do? We checked how much money we had: enough for food, but not enough for another day in the park. Hilke thought it might be a good idea to ask the our local travel agent if it would be possible to go to our next destination, Jiuzhai Valley National Park, a day earlier than planned. After some telephone calls they told us that it would be possible, but it would cost us the extra night in the hotel. No problem: better spend the extra money than lose another day, just sitting and waiting. We have no idea why it was recommended that we should stay here for three nights (more than 2,5 days), we will recommend others to stay in Songpan and go to Huanglong on a day trip, more than enough time to enjoy this park. 

But, we still had one whole day in front of us. Sitting in the hotel wasn't an option, actually it seemed to us that they rented the lobby to the bar, and you only were allowed to sit in the lobby if you either payed about 4 euro, or ordered tea, about 5.20 euro. Another option was to go out and walk to the entrance and just watch the people. We did that and it was actually a lot of fun. And again, many people wanted to be in a picture with us. Since there was also a very big TV screen showing the Olympic games, we were able to see the exciting volleyball match between the women of China and Brazil (Brazil won, but it took them 5 sets!). 

Afterwards we had a tasty and cheap dinner at a place where the Chinese people love to go to: Dico's, the Chinese version of Kentucky Fried Chicken. We spent our evening at the hotel, drinking beer and watching the Olympics. Tomorrow, after another great breakfast (not!!!) we will go to our next destination, Jiuzhaigou (Nine Villages Valley).


(zài jiàn: Chinese for good bye) 

Enjoy our photos