Friday, May 3, 2013

Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan Provice, China.

I dont even know where to start with this post! Jiuzhaigou Valley is truly one of the most fascinating and beautiful places I have ever visited. We flew into Song Pan airport from Chengdu (just a 40 min flight) and what a stark difference awaited us.. I dont think anyone in that plane was ready for the beauty that we flew into. You see, Chengdu was a heavily polluted, smoggy and ridiculously busy city... with just this short flight into the smog/clouds, upon descent - the clouds parted and we were surrounded by all sides with the massive, snow-capped mountains of the Tibetan Plateau. I can still hear the choroused 'gasp' from everybody in that plane in that first second upon leaving the clouds.

Song Pan airport is located high up on one of those mountains, where nothing but snow, yak and Tibetan prayer flags were situated. We were so high up in elevation that not even weeds grew. In fact, we were starting to wonder whether the local people here had ever seen green before.
A two hour ride in a little bus, past many Tibetan villages, temples and prayer sites, led us down into Jiuzhaigou Valley, where we began our hiking journey....

Our days began pre-sunrise at 5am, so we could be at the mouth of the valley by 7am. The mornings were very cold, but by 10am the sun left us sweaty, which made packing for the day somewhat difficult. Carrying in our own food and water certainly made for some heavy packs on our back too!

Luxury potties at the beginning of the valley

By 8am, the fog had already started lifting

Tibetan temple peaking out between the fog and the mountains

Tibetan prayer flags - they certainly like their color!

Tibetan marker of some sort, one of many that were dotted in the valley

Spring has sprung! The peaking out of colored flowers was wonderful to see

Tibetan prayer wheels - the locals has prayers written on these wheels and instead of verbally reciting their prayers, they would spin these wheels with their hands instead. Smart idea!

The first Tibetan village we encountered

As the sun began to rise, the colors of the lakes became vibrant and a beautiful blue-green color

The lakes of Jiuzhaigou are well known for their petrified trees in them

Lets just say that the tripod got a good workout on this trip!

Tibetan village from across the lake

The beginning of the valley - a wonderfully constructed boardwalk made for a relatively easy walk to the trails

Local's house on the river

After a loooooong day of hiking, we enjoyed the locals way of eating - noodles, yak meat and beer - all in the famous Sichuan peppercorns of course!

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