AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Jiuzhaigou Tour: Day 3

Day three and we were heading back to Chengdu. Breakfast was at 6am but we skipped it and instead ate yet more cake snacks. We left at 6:30am.

The mountain scenery that we drove through was beautiful. Steep, near vertical hills rising to pinnacles hidden in clouds. The trees were many shades of green and a mist hung over the valleys. This was the kind of scenery only seen on TV. But we didn’t stop for photos! On the Tibet tour we stopped every time the scenery looked good. On here the people were content with taking poor photos from through the bus window as we drove past – the window was steamed up as the bus driver wouldn’t put the aircon on to ensure the engine had full power. Very annoying!

What’s more annoying is why we didn’t stop. It has nothing to do with getting back to Chengdu at a reasonable time. Oh no, it was because of all the shops we had to visit on our journey back. Our first stop was at a supposed Tibetan house. It didn’t look Tibetan, the people didn’t look Tibetan and they didn’t dress Tibetan. We were led into this supposed house where with the help of our translator we were told some of the things the woman was saying. The basic gist was, she was Tibetan and her culture and traditions were different and backwards. The people would laugh often at what she was saying. Basically, the whole thing was self- deprecating to make the Chinese way seem superior to the old fashioned Tibetan ways. Borderline racist and propaganda. Two things surprised/annoyed me there. Firstly, the woman was midway through speaking when her phone rang. Rather than ignore it she left the room to answer it. What could be that important? Secondly, the people seemed surprised that she had a phone! They actually lapped up and believed this crap that the Tibetan people were poor and backwards and undeveloped! Stupid stupid stupid people! We were then led into the shopping area. Yet more silver bracelets and bone combs. A different kind of tat to that sold in Tibet. On the plus side they had some food stalls and I bought some chips with chili sauce. The toilets were foul! Even the Chinese held their noses!

We left there after spending over an hour in that fake hellhole! At 10am we stopped at another large shop. We walked in, a route zigzagged past huge displays of food. To look would prompt shouting and gesturing from the person manning that section. I walked down looking at everything just to get them shouting. It took us 1 minute to walk through the store, at the other end the bus driver gestured that food was back near the entrance and upstairs. We followed him up to a large dining room. There we had to wait about 20 minutes whilst all the people who has refused to buy food on the park and picked the cheap tour spent their cash on junk. We ate a very early and blend meal again. The chomping, slurping, mashing, mouth wide open style of eating was yet again an unpleasant experience.

We weren’t on the road long before we stopped at yet another shopping compresse complex. Argh! Why the hell can’t we just go back to Chengdu? The answer is because the tour was cheap for a reason, the company got a ton of commission from the shops we’d spend all day visiting. This time we sat on the bus and prepared to read. However, a student also stayed so we chatted, using Google translate. Over an hour later the rest of the bus returned. They were loving the shops – despite buying nothing.

Further down the road we stopped again. This was really getting on our nerves!

Thankfully, that was our final stop. From here on the bus drove at what felt like breakneck speed down the winding road. The river in the valley floor was extremely fast flowing. It was a mighty river, wide and shallow and white or narrow and deep and flowing at an incredible rate. The scenery was still very dramatic. The tops of the hills around us were pretty far away. As we looked out the window we were constantly thrown from side to side into each corner. The road was busy with trucks and we were constantly overtaking them. The overtaking manoeuvres aren’t quite right in my opinion. Pull out and take a look often leads to either swerving back in rapidly or very hard braking when we get about 1m into the overtake and see the oncoming vehicle.

We finally got back to Chengdu at 7pm and we were dropped off on the outskirts of the city. Thankfully there’s a metro system and we were able to get back to the hostel without much effort.

We were left wondering if our ordeal had been worth it. When we’d priced up doing the trip ourselves we couldn’t match the price, even excluding food it would have cost us more to go alone. The sights we’d seen were amazing. The park was beautiful and like nothing we’d seen before. It’s a close call but it was just worth the hassle. Just…

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