"A fairytale land" in Jiuzhaigou
[It's easy to appreciate how much I have in the states when I see the desolation and poverty around Jiuzhaigou. You forget how luxurious your life actually is compared to the rest of the world. ]
Jiuzhaigou derives its name from the nine Tibetan villages around the area and the Tibetan influence is vast and well represented. Today, we traveled to Jinzhai Valley National Park which is well known for its amazing aquamarine turquoise (hard to describe unless you see it in person) lakes and waterfalls. The park is one of the biggest in China and is between 6,529 feet to 15,630 feet above sea level.
I was pretty excited after looking at pictures online. Our tour guide said that March was slower season (October being the worst) and if today was slow season, I never want to witness busy season. The masses of Chinese people all around me terrified me today. The park is so sprawled out that you really need to take buses to get around to each part but the trouble with this is that for some reason Chinese people do not really understand the concept of personal space or patience. The line to get to the initial bus was ridiculous and apparently children have been trampled to death after falling and I witnessed firsthand how that would be completely plausible. There is no rhyme or reason to the lines and it's basically a free for all for the buses so that whichever tour guide and tour group that is the most aggressive wins. I cannot count the number of times today that I was completely sandwiched, shoved in the gut and back, and slapped in the face. I'm pretty sure now I've developed claustrophobia, specifically of people. If you ever visit this place, be forewarned that you are in for a huge cultural shock and possibly the loss of your limbs. (Video proof: the horrors!)
After surviving that first (but not the last of the day) line, we rode on a bus up to Arrow Bamboo Lake and en route, there were collective ooohs and ahhhs. Natural wonders of the world never cease to amaze me and pics don't quite do them justice. The lakes are this fantastic color that changes with the depth and composition of the lake. The water is extremely clear as well so that you can peer straight into the heart of the lake. The color is mainly attributed to the high concentration of calcium carbonate from the limestone as well as the biosphere of each lake. Even though it was about 30 degrees out (the irony that I tried to escape Albany's frigid weather does not escape me), looking at this water felt like I was in a tropical oasis. The entire day all I wanted to do was touch the water and swim in it which both are completely prohibited. Waterfalls always also amaze me and the ones from today didn't disappoint. The current caused by the splashing of the falls created a bluish greenish hue as well. We did miss the half frozen waterfall and our group was pretty disappointed. If you can survive the 11 hour bus ride and the craziness of the people, I would recommend coming to see these lakes and waterfalls for yourself. The other wonderful thing about this area is that you can see the Tibetan influence everywhere. Tibetan flags were everywhere and many of the Tibetan people live in the national park as well as take care of it.
We had dinner at a local restaurant and Tamara, Ami, our dinner mates (who 1 is Asian Amercian and 1 is Caucasian American and don't understand Mandarin either), and I all agree that we have now met our quota on vegetables for the entire year. Each meal thus far has pretty much been vegetables galore and my mom would be in vegetable heaven. Also, it seems that there are only the same vegetables available throughout the mountains. At least tonight, the meal was pretty tasty.........well until the after dinner plans. After dinner, we went to a local Tibetan house? (I'm not sure what to call it.) The tour calls it a "cabaret". Basically after having stuffing my face at dinner, our dessert was a traditional Tibetan meal filled with none other than my least favorite meat - lamb. It was hard being so disrespectful to our Tibetan hosts but there was no way I could eat any of the meal because 1. I was full and 2. The bits I tried made me gag. The women in the family of this place sang Mandarin and Tibetan songs which concluded with us asking for an encore ("Ya So, Ya So, Ya Ya So. Oh Yea!"). The white guy jinxed himself prior to this saying he was surprised there hadn't been more jokes about him on this tour and throughout the hour, the women teased him and our entire tour group married him off to one of them in exchange for 10 cows a person. It was pretty hilarious while moderately bordering the line of awkward. Poor Chris. Then we finished by dancing around a fire which is when I realized the Psy's Gangam Style transcends all cultures. Oppa Gangam Style!
Oh the joys of random cheap Chinese tours. Haha
Now I'm beat........so here are some pics from today.
Five Colored Lake
I love that you can see the branches and trunks so clearly under the hue of the water.
The part I liked the most of Pearl Shoals Waterfalls. I used a longer shutter for a "motion" type effect.
"Stufa" at the entrance of Shuzheng Village (a Tibetan Village). You are supposed to turn each of these gold items and pay our respects for a wish and goodluck. I love the vibrant colors of Tibetan flags.
The typical practically vegetarian meal I have repeatedly been having. The slivers in the middle are not ginger but a weird potato that isn't as good as a russet. NEVER try the bracken root which is purple and disgusting.