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Saturday 04.08.2012

This morning our driver picked us up right on time, 09.00 am to take us to our next destination, Jiuzhaigou National Park. Jiuzhaigou means “Nine Villages Valley”. We drove through a beautiful landscape of mountains and traditional Tibetan villages. After a little more than 2 hours we arrived at our hotel, only 500 m away from the entrance of the park. The hotel wasn't much better than our previous hotel, but at least no honking trucks, busses and cars in front of the hotel and it was clean (which is the most important thing for usl!).

After checking in, installing our things in the room and making sure we had some extra thick blankets to put on the "concrete" matrass, we decided to take a walk to the park, see if it would be possible to get some information and to buy tickets for the next 2 days. We also wanted to wash some of our clothes, hopefully the hotel has a laundry service.

The way to the park was a short walk passing small shops and small restaurants. Once we arrived at the visitors centre we got some information. Unfortunately it wasn't possible to buy the tickets. We walked back and asked the hotel for the laundry service, but “mei-yo” (we don't have). They did tell us that there was a laundry service further down the road. But after a good walk in the direction they pointed us, we returned to the hotel with our dirty clothes. Finally one of the ladies from the reception helped us, she stopped a car on the street, then drove with us to the next village, and yep there it was. We would never had found it without her help. Our clothes would be ready the next day. We went back the same way we came, she just stopped a car and we could ride along. It cost us 5 Yuan (0,65 euro) per ride. At 6 pm we had dinner in the hotel. Since dinner was included in the hotel rate, we just had to wait and see what they will offer us. We got tea, rice (of course) and 3 other dishes, tasty, but we really had no clue what it was. Some cabbage, cooked duck maybe and some other slimy things …... After dinner we had some wine (actual dry red wine!), watched some sports, and went to bed early, because we decided to get up at 06.00 am to be at the entrance at 7 am sharp!

Sunday 05.08.2012

Too early (for a holiday) the alarm went off. But we read that it is best to be at the entrance at 7 am to beat the crowds. And since it was a Sunday, it could be quite a busy day. So we took our things and went to the diningroom to get some breakfast. Breakfast again looked interesting, but not tasty at all, there was no tea, no coffee even no warm Yak milk. The only thing that looked a bit okay was a kind of rice porridge. But even this wasn't tasty (not even when we added some sugar). So we skipped breakfast went to our room to get the camera and rain clothes, it looked like we would need them and walked to the park, to beat the crowds. Or ... so we thought.

When we arrived at the entrance ( we saw thousands of people, big groups in front of the ticket office trying to get in. It was so crowded that they closed the doors of the office. Paul managed to get almost in front of the group right in front of the closed doors. Once the ticket office was almost empty, the doors opend and within seconds the room was again filled with ticket buying people, luckily Paul got pushed by the crowd and got to one of the counters first, so he had the tickets quite fast. Next thing to do was to get on a bus and drive for about 18 km up the mountain to start our walk down.

The park is divided in a western and eastern part. The western side starts at an altitude of 2900 m and the eastern part of about 3200 m going down to an altitude of 2000 m. The walking paths follow the waterflow in beautiful lakes, with extreme clear blue water, into fast streams, waterfalls of different sizes into magnificent lakes again. But ... let the pictures do the talking here. A picture can say more than a thousand words after all.

The only bad thing was that it started to rain early in the afternoon and didn't stop. A funny thing that happened was meeting Jerry, a 18 year old Chinese student who stayed with us during the first part of the day because he enjoyed our company. He was very enthousiastic, and when we wanted to have to take a break he really tried to convince us to follow him to the eastern valley. But we said goodbye to him. He had only one day to do the whole park, we had two days here so it would be better for him to see as much as possible and not follow our slow pace. The walk was wonderful. All paths are clean and very easy to walk on, very well organised (you can leave that to the Chinese, that's for sure). After 10 hours and somewhere around 12 km walking, we arrived at the exit. Walked to a restaurant just in front of our hotel, had a beer at our local bar, dinner in the restaurant of the hotel (again tasty but no idea what we were eating) and went to bed early. Tomorrow we will get up a bit more early, skip breakfast alltogether and hope to get our tickets much faster.

Monday 06.08.2012

This morning we arrived at the entrance of the park a little before 7 am, but ... what a queue in front the ticket office, this could take some time. Yesterday, after Paul had bought the tickets, he was asked to leave by the backdoor of the office. So instead of lining up at the end of the queue, he walked to the backdoor, got in, bought the tickets and got out only a few minutes later. Okay, maybe not fair to all the others, but nobody said anything about it.

Today we wanted to go to the eastern part. The only problem however was that the busses didn't go into that direction until 9.00 am. We were droped of at the “Y”, the crossing at the Park's centre, visited one of the Tibetan villages closeby and were in time for the second bus that would take us up the mountain. After 18 km we got off bus, only to find out that there was only 2 lakes to visit, Long Lake and the “Five Coloured Pond”. It was very beautiful, but the path going down was closed, so we had to take the bus back down again. So we decided to take the bus up to the western top again. Since the weather was much better today we knew we would enjoy this walk a second time. The surroundings were just magnificent.

One of the things that is always nice whenever we travel is the people we meet. While walking, a chinese family asked us if we would be on a picture with their children. This already happened like a “zillion” times. This time a young European couple was close by and joined us in those pictures. So we started to talk with them. They are from Switserland and like us, were photografed many many times. Somehow, we just stayed together and hiked through the park. We had a lot of fun, talked about all sorts of things, posed together for many pictures for the Chinese tourists. It really made the day more special. At the end of the afternoon, they joined us for a nice dinner in one of the small restaurants. After exchanging e-mail adressess we said goodbye around 08.30 pm. We went to our hotel, very tired of all that walking,and went to bed. Tomorrow we will fly to Chengdu. Amongst other sights we will have a good look at some of Sichuan's most famous residents ….

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