Up Mountains, Down Valleys. Karsts, Rivers and Seas in China


JiuZhai Valley/Nine Village Valley:

I joined a tour fr HK, traveling with parents.  I just did not have the time to organize and less inputs=<dramaz. XD

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 photo IMG_20141015_135749297_zpsc7cbab7d.jpg5 Flowers Lake

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 photo P1010117_zps7f82e164.jpgPanda Lake, used to be their natural water hole now swarmed by tourists in panda hats and coats of all ages.  That would do it scaring any living wild pandas away.  And haha I keep flashing sifu from Ranma 1/2 falling into his panda spring.

 photo P1010139_zpsafde8a6e.jpg photo P1010127_zps3d9fecac.jpgLong Lake.  Legend has it the lake has its own monster.  We saw a lone wild duck.

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Peacock Lake.  Nature has to deposit this dazzlingly gorgeous pattern of a peacock in bloom at the bottom of this unbelievably beautiful lake.

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We did not ride these panda buses, but we feel the pain of the crowd. With each stop the lines are as long as a Disneyland rides in freezing temperature and nonstop drizzle.  Pics look breathtaking, the physical misery is a minus but worth it for this view alone.
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We were not under altitude sickness…yet…at JiuZhai.

 photo P1010319_zps31535e13.jpgA rustic hard to see little temple mid mountain by the roadside with its elaborate prayer flags flown towards the sky.
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Wild yak cows grazing.

I got an uncomfortable ‘normal’ bout of altitude discomfort on the ride to HuangLong/Yellow (Golden) Dragon as the tourbus climbed over a mountain and we were warned it is over 4000m.   At HuangLong,  ~3500m miserable weather, rainy and freezing temperature, attempting to hike the 4 km of relentless steps to the top (mind the another 4 km down)  to see the 5 color lakes in the tight allotted hours on a tour was beyond me at a rate of stopping to catch my breath and slow down my heart rate when the crowd gets too thick….O2 nebulizers in hand already.

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So we took tonnes of pics while literally throwing up here and there, hand shaking and inhaling pure O2 every 10 s.

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 photo IMG_20141016_141711951_HDR_zpsee589dac.jpgTotally apt to name it the yellow/golden dragon.

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 photo P1010432_zps2a873a96.jpgIf I had the whole day, I would have camped and took naps at every one of these oxygen bars.
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From the air it looks like this (fr wiki):

There is a cable car ride up half way BUT it is a km away from left of the ‘dragon’ range you will miss seeing much of anything and it would still be another 2km upslope without your body adjusting to the altitude in exertion taking the hike up.  Do NOT TAKE The cable car.  The parents did not even attempt and opted for hot tea and shopping in the visitor center.  If we had another hour, or we did some serious training in mountain running we could’ve made it, but we had a flight to catch to ChongQing.


We did not really have time to tour around the city much, except for very touristy spots like all tours do.  All I remember was I must’ve eaten a real pint of sichuan pepper corns in my tummy, it’s in EVERYTHING, even in plain veggies.   Paid homage to the super yummy ChongQing hotpot.
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I knew I would not have time to ride its rollercoaster metro, look at it about to go through a building!
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This store has a HUGE line in the rain. Nosy me braved and pushed a few damas like a dama myself, tried a sample of its sweet fried dough (ma hua).  Erm.  What is the big deal?!?!?

BUT how good a Loverboy redbeanie am I to snap this thinking of him huh?!  lol
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I just pay the fees and visit every temple I pass by wherever, however tourist trappy they are. I am a tourist, soaking in the scene and sound of the city where I do not belong, might as well pay some dues.

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was tempted to try out the hot and sour tofu fa off the street, but again the line…and I have eaten so much snacks not even making down half the street.
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 photo IMG_20141019_104624225_zpsd756ae31.jpgHot pepper strands/garlands in a little snack jerky shop.

We tried the famous Sichuan dish pickled cabbage and fish pot.  The fish is super tender and fresh but I am just not a fan of the taste of river fishies (I hate catfish)
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On a roadtrip to our next destination, our tourbus got overheated and we had to make a stop for lunch at this neighhorhood mom and pop’s.  This is the store front.

 photo P1010562_zps4b3c7152.jpgA Sherlock moment noting all the cleaning brushes, mops are very well maintained and everything has its exact architectual place.

Promptly as we sat down, the aunties tourmates pulled out fine whiskeys from their unassuming backpacks and started pouring everybody some into our ricebowls to cheer for the impromptu adventure and to…frankly…disinfect our bowls.  lol.  I love them so much.   How awesome?!?!
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 photo P1010548_zps07d2a622.jpgIt is literally like we are invited into a home of Sichuanites.  The lady chef and her husband were teaming at the wok, papachef was giving orders, cleaning vegs and meats.  <333

And I had the best GungPao chicken there.  The safe dish at every meal is always the tomato with scrambled eggs and this little shop made the best…they even took the time to de-skin, de-seed!
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View from hotel:
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Fact:  CQ is SUPER hazy/foggy around the clock.  Tourguide said because the air is always so moist their ladies have the best supple complexion and touted as a place famous for its killer feisty tongued beauties. (I thought of XiangXiang!!! I need intervention!!! HAHAHA)

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I think this is the Yangtze.  (lol allow me to be silly again because my brain jumped a fuse and it is all filled with YangZi/XiangXiang fondest memories. )

Some more food p0rn of my favorite dishes I tasted:  A cold dish of smoked duck with pickled ginger, wood ear salad and a mungbean jelly noodles in a super yummy (and of course SPICY!) dressing. The fancy hotel we stayed in CQ has a breakfast brunch with a noodle station serving a mean ChongQing XiaoMian, which we know as DanDan Noodles, musthave in CQ. Didn’t take a pic, it is impossible not to dig in asap!

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The DaZu rock carvings:

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 photo P1010600_zpse95a6164.jpgThe Buddhist teachings in anecdotes illustrated in the carvings are so inspirational and colorful…and hmmm is this saintly buddha giving us the finger!?

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 photo P1010612_zps151e7f78.jpgThe thousand hand GuanYin is being refurbished.  I am blinded by the glare of just a few of Her hands.
 photo P1010618_zpsa0737d61.jpg6 Wheels of reincarnation.  I thought those are pigs in blankets of some sort at the outermost…but it is actually how each animal ‘evolved’ from the tail of one coming out the head of the other, eg a horse will evolve into a goat in the next lifetime if it behaved as an able horse should.

 photo P1010624_zps917e63c6.jpgThe most precious carvings are housed inside its own natural carved out chamber with the genius optimal design of natural light and even drainage channels for the plenty of rainy day.

Moss on a pagoda matching the exact green of the greenery:
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A side trip from CQ at Wulong Karst, sharing the same mountain range, just the other side of Zhangjiajie’s floating mountains. 
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Very super WTF: photo P1010748_zps5f07283e.jpg
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The hike is a few km all steps down, not strenuous, but on a rainy day and with its waterfalls it is VERY slippery, that and I made the trek with a smoking (no pun, not the hot kind, just the fact he is a chimney) uncle at my same pace who has a spit to spit every 5 minutes.  You can only anticipate it coming and try to hold your step just behind him, that’s all you can do.


West Lake:

Took the high speed train from SH to HangZhou.   The train ride itself is efficient and highly recommended (bonus ON! TIME! unlike commercial planes operating in CN airspace my average delay was 2 hours, max 4, no reason explained).  In an hour we got from point A to B…BUT those mega enormous train stations made to train marathoners I suspect, seriously are physical nightmares.  I am in my running shoes, but there are fancy ladies in heels doing the mad dash and ticket counters only opening a minute prior to boarding, leaving crowds no choice but to be shoving and pushing, the logic behind is beyond me… that SH train terminal is easily 10 times the size of its International PuTong airport and the ‘sweet’ thing is, you will have to walk the entire length and width of it because of the most ridiculously not made for mankind consumption design contraptions.  It was so daunting at the taxi line when you tried to stick your head out as much and STILL you could not see the taillight of the taxi at the very front, the light at end of tunnel.

We spent just one day at West Lake, no way enough but we got the gist of the beautiful serenity and its friendly, proud, helpful people.

The views from Six Harmonies Pagoda….

QianTang River, most famous for its tidal bore.  It was dormant and calm that day.

The temple and museum adjacent.   Very well kept, spotless and bonus no one else wasvisiting but our group.

We took a taxi to lunch at West Lake.   Did not eat at the most obvious fancy restaurant because our super friendly driver recommended us to go where YangZhou-nites would go when at West Lake.   It was YUM.

Lucky it was a clear, cool, comfortable day with manageable (still aplenty) crowds.  The ferry ride was the highlight: we take in the lake as sun is beginning to set.
^We spot an unknown lake creature!

The three stone carvings marking the 3 ponds mirroring the moon thrice at night.
Qing Emperor QianLong loved West Lake (and my mind is full of Book and Sword feels) and left lots of remnants of mansions he built while enjoying his visits.

The 110 years old, ‘oldest literati society in CN’ 西泠印社, a recent meme was kiddos misreading the characters in reverse and thought it was a noodle store 杜即冷面, actually not a bad idea if it serves cold noodles and a nice cup of dragon well…but then nah, the crowds will trash and ruin it.  It is such a lovely place at the north bank of the lake, worth me dashing easily a mile to, while my folks are TRYING to hail a taxi (impossible feat) and I smartly asked them if by luck they snatched one, stop by there to pick me up.   At the back of my mind, I recall Loverboy has paid homage (I can’t find the pic nor proof) and just my luck it had few visitors when I popped in and I can immerse in the tranquility surrounded by all the best works of masterful calligraphers (who must also master the masonry of seal carvings).  I savored it, because if the 盗墓笔记 franchise takes flight, tonnes of fans will go trample where the heroes tread and the tranquility would be forever lost.

By Maestro Qi BaiShi <3333333

Did a bit of shopping at downtown downtown and dinner was so heavy we had to take a stroll by the other side of the lake before catching our train to the lights and sounds of the cute ahjummas waltzing and dancing their peacocky ‘courtyard’ dance and THIS scenery.  Hubs was sooooo fascinated a fanboy he had mastered the moves from keenly observing like a perv (there was a pic of a city neighborhood dance competition in SH above with a stage full of Moms/Grandmas/Damas) while I am too shy to take a pic of them, it’s imprinted in my mind (and this breathtaking vista), I swear!


18 thoughts on “Up Mountains, Down Valleys. Karsts, Rivers and Seas in China

  1. Omg mookie you went to Jiuzhaigou! The place looks so amazing, and I believe that you cannot take a bad photo if you tried. I went many years ago (at the height of the holiday period) and it was packed but so worth it. Did not do Huanglong back then, for whatever reason.

    Hangzhou was one of the my summer holiday stops this year too. Haha it was a bizarre feeling for me, being there. It did give me the feels of a period drama, and it was amazing. We had a really relaxed pace, not following a tour for a change but just exploring at our own leisure. It suited the folks better and we still got to do what we wanted, avoiding them tea/silk farm tourist traps.

    1. Oh chingu, you went to JZG around this time of year too?!?! IT WAS SOOO CROWDED, there really was a tourist who got pushed into one of the lakes. There was not an inch of paved anything not with feet on it.

      Did you fly in?! My folks had been there years ago \before the time of the airport they took the tourbus from Chengdu, and with that they did not have time to visit HuangLong as well.

      I love Hangzhou! We also did not take a tour, my folks were our tourguides, been there so many times, Just our luck but from the killer hit rate I am assuming HZnites are truly friendly and sweet folks, every local we met and talked to are soo insanely helpful, offering us tips and recs for restaurants and planning out our stops for us as brilliant and time efficient as can be. Everywhere I went to though, it was pouring or drizzling. I bet in summer when everything is in bloom it would be spectacular too (but the heat and bugs…argh)

      1. No no, JZG was years ago, but good to see that its beauty is still unchanged. We had the misfortune of going in the midst of Chinese school holidays in Aug so it was jam-packed with local holiday-goers as well! Yes we took a bus from Chengdu and didn’t stop at Huanglong. However back then we had Grandma along with us so I think it would have been too physical. Would love to go back again in autumn/winter and it’s one of those places that looks so different in different seasons that it would be worth it. (But flying in is a must, if anyone would like travel tips!)

        I did Hangzhou and a day-trip to Nanjing this summer. I went with my parents too so everything was really to their pace. It was really hot though and I did come home with lots of mosquito bites. And like you, I also took the train and found it pretty good. Mum said it has improved over the years, even the trains were new and clean. I don’t think my experience was as frantic as yours as Dad is very punctual and we practically arrived an hour ahead of our train with nothing to do! (Could have done with more time at the hotel breakfast, hah) When we took the train in Hangzhou everyone was pretty orderly – barding was about 10 minutes before departure time, so people started queueing up (I was impressed) in front of the gates about 15 mins-ish before.

        Our experience in Hangzhou was pretty good. I haven’t been to China for a good few years now, but the locals that we did end up chatting with (and who weren’t trying to sell us stuff) were nice and helpful. My only teensy regret was not going for Impressions of West Lake, as parents had done it before so I prioritised our night-market prowl ahead of it. The night market was quite fun nonetheless. At least that gives me another excuse to return to Hangzhou, lol.

        1. Yeah, i know u went years ago. Tbvh i was a bit underwhelmed by JZG, it was very beautiful lakes and falls and more lakes and falls a bit… well monotonous for me to endure the trouble of the miserable weather and insane crowds entailed in the peakpeak season. Pics look fantastic but the wet and cold all day plus the near zero visibility ie plane delays = huge bummer.

          Thing is no matter how ahead of schedule (we were half hour early like everyone else knowing the trains r prompt) they did not open the gates till very last minutes and with strollers and wheelchairs… design just has no sensitivity for the handicapped and ‘needy’… lol aren’t peeps supposed to be in line (ppl really r very gd at it better esp in larger metropolitans like SH quite a few years ago already) but the system (I suspect the enhanced security after the terror attacks) left everyone no choice to crowd up at gate waiting. Plus buying the ticket is so silly walking through the entire floor to find the ONLY elevator at one end, then to find booth is at the original end just one floor up, what’s the hurt of another elevator in the hugeass granite monstrosity?! XD

          I agree HZ is a lovely tourist spot with its more leisurely pace. Luv it.

          1. Oh yes, the lack of elevators at the train stations was a bit of a nightmare, tbh. When we were leaving with our huge suitcase we had no choice but to drag them on the stairs along with a million other people! Obv we were slowing everyone behind us down and annoying them. The only elevator that was available was locked (for what reason, we didn’t know) so we were kindly redirected to the stairs. I felt terrible as the handle on my case was broken by someone on the train, so it was a klutzy attempt to make our way out of the station. Urgh.

            Gosh, I know what you mean about the crowds. It was prob the reason why my brother hated Beijing when he went. It’s still on my to-do list, but knowing it’s only going to be worse is kind of a detractor. I still think I’d go to JZG again, but would carefully plan to avoid massive crowds like before.

            Gleefully planning my next getaway now, probably a nice Xmas market in Europe, soak up the festivities a little.

  2. i want to head back too….travelling through China is #1 on my bucketlist boohoo T_T still haven’t found the time

    u should have went to hengdian lololololololololol

    1. Lol Y should i go to HD?! That’s the last place on earth i wanna be. I have negative desire in star chasing and those manmade sets r soo tiresome on screen let alone there’s nothing no food digs around i would care.

      Btw, asking the expert… what’s ur opinion on All Quiet in Peking?!

  3. Wulong Karst looks amazing! So grand. Will add that to my must see list.

    I had to laugh at the Super WTF picture because I was like WTF and then looked at your title.

    What is the name of the restaurant you went to in Hangzhou that all the locals go to? The food looks scrumptious.

    I will be going on a 25 day trip to China next year and will be stopping by Hangzhou.

    How were the bathrooms during your travels to JZG and Wulong Karst and Chongqing?

    1. LOL you Have to ask about the bathrooms?! *hugs* lemme spill the beans JZG/Huanglong/Wulong/any non top-tier city : same old. If you’ve been to CN 10 years ago, it is still squatting contraptions only, doors optional… it was raining miserably so every foot of slippery flooring was MORE slippery covered in sooty slime. They sold disposable booties covering for your shoes on top of raincoats with a drizzle, GET THEM. haha even if not for the weather, you’ll be sooo thankful at a freshing up break.

      CQ is decent, HZ is the best in up to standard sanitary everything methinks, I think it is cleaner than SH. of course, still when you get back to HKG you’ve got to weep at the lavatories at Elements, can’t help it. It would b a great time to visit CQ, our local tourguide actually has lots of kibd words to say on BXL, the saying is everyone bribes but the citizens can actually reap benefits from what he had done for the city for all to see. We stayed at Westin, it is true 4/5 star, very nice.

      We went to a restaurant very close to 花港觀鱼 called 知味观, we asked the taxi driver to drop us at 楼上楼 for lunch and when my Mom asked him if it is still gd ( she ate there years ago), the driver rec’d this instead and was a much shorter cab ride than all the way to N bank and told us to take the ferry rides unlimited fr the popular spots to N bank after lunch.

      1. You would think I would be used to bad bathrooms especially since I was born in Shanghai and traveled to some of the more major tier 1/2/3 cities in China over the years. Sadly no. That smell and the horrible bathrooms makes me cringe. What I do is not drink, until I get back to the hotel at night or plan out bathroom stops during the day.

        HK bathrooms are the bomb, especially in the nicer malls. Have you been to the one in Pacific Place recently? It looks like a museum.

        Thanks for the restaurant tip on Hangzhou, I am probably going there this December instead of next year as planned.

        1. I didnt roam around PP this time bk, but I’ve been there! I was hopping to airport quite a few times that’s y elements = second home.

          I bet u would not be in such hurry as us just spending a day at HZ… we did not have time for 靈隐寺, and mybro told is to eat at 4seasons in the vicinity, the best meal he had in HZ, till next time then!

          It is just mindboggling how it is possible for the elders/handicaps to use public toilets at very touristy spots, I just dun see it. Yes we r expecting to squat but it is too much to ask so close to the floor when not as agile… it is just…Soo nerve wrecking even for me. TMITMI

  4. Awesome views! China have lost of great scenery. Thanks for sharing. At last, the plan to visit China will materialize. My sisters and some friends are flying to Beijing this July 2015. We already have plane tickets. I’ll now be able to see the land of my ancestors! My sis’ jaw dropped when I told her that I’m going to look for Yuan Hong. “Who is Yuan Hong?” When I told her that he is a Chinese actor, she looked at me in disbelief! LOL!

    I know we will have a great time and have fun.

    1. Hihi friend!

      Ahhhhhhhhhh seriously hunt down for him then in BJ, it would be hot! and hopefully he would be in some form of undress lol! Plus chat w him in english muahahaha fans keep quipping he us fluent but i doubt it! Should be so entertaining and hilarious no?!

      Happy hols!

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