All the colors in Sichuan
Filed under China
11 September 2014
It was not planned but the easiest way to go from Langmusi to Chengdu was a two days journey through Jiuzhaigou so I decided to add one day more and visit this park.
Jiuzhaigou Valley is part of the Min Mountains on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes, and snow-capped peaks with an elevation from 2.000 to 4.500 metres. During high season this park receives more than 12.000 visitors a day.
I would not describe Jiuzhaigou as a National Park, it is much more like an Amusement Park where a bus transports thousands of tourists from one nice spot to another one. In this park there are no paths but walkways and visitors (not hikers) can admire the nature but can’t touch it. I was warned about all this and I was more or less ready for the experience but the fake Tibetan town in the middle of the park with hundreds of tourist shops and food stalls was too much, lol. I was suggested to take the bus up to the Primitive Forest, the southernmost point of the park, and then go down walking. I found this forest really beautiful until Chinese started to scream (because Chinese need to make noise anywhere, anytime) so amazing forest but spoilt walk, lol. But during my way down (by foot) I found myself alone many times and I could enjoy by myself some of those amazing turquoise lakes with all kind of greens reflected on its waters.
Black and White:
After Jiuzhaigou I chose Chengdu as base camp to do some trips around. Chengdu’s most popular attraction is the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, home of nearly 50 giant and red pandas.
These two beasts share the same name (meaning something like “bear- cat” in Chinese) but belong to two different families and are sexually reluctant creatures to breed. In addition to this, a giant panda mum can only take care of one baby panda so if she gives birth to twins (50% of the cases) she will abandon (or just won’t feed) the weakest one. This Base allows both cubs to survive because keepers collect the milk from the mother to feed also the second one. Newborns are kept in a nursery until their immune system is mature.
And then they grow up and become more fluffy and funny, each one with a different personality. Don’t miss their breakfast time, no need to say that they love bamboo!
While preparing my trip, my friend Clara sent me this you tube video with some pandas playing, they are so cute! I still have not seen koalas but giant pandas will be hard to beat!!
The following day I went to Leshan to visit Mr Dafo, the biggest Buddha in the world 71 m tall. This is a Buddha Maitreya (or future Buddha) located at the confluence of three rivers: Dadu, Qingyi and Minjiang where there were many accidents in the past. It was the monk Hai Tong who had the idea of sculpting this Buddha at this spot to watch and protect the ships. The project started in the year 713 and it took 90 years to complete.
The journey from Chengdu takes 3 hours by public bus. It was a very humid and misty day and it was hard to climb all that stairs to reach the head of the Buddha . . . one must deserve Mr Dafo! On the top there is terrace with a nice view over the city, where the three rivers meet but with all that mist everything was looking very grey.
Only the imposing Buddha seems to overcome that mist and visitors can admire his huge ochre body from the head down to the feet through a steep stairway or by boat tour for a more panoramic view. His shoulders are 28 m large (like a basketball court), his fingers are 3 m long and his ears are 7 m long.
Red, blue, yellow, white . . .
Chengdu itself does not have many tourist spots so my time in the city was spent looking for some local life. Wenshuo Temple is interesting in this sense, definitely not touristy but a place for praying, learning or just enjoying its gardens.
I also liked People’s Park. In China all public parks are places of life and conviviality since early in the morning until dusk. By 8.15 am it was already crowded: runners, operetta singers, tango dancers, tai chi and choreography fans, people playing paddle, mah-jong, calligraphy designers, musicians . . . all these people meet at People’s Park and are a feast for westerners’ eyes.
I liked colorful Sichuan, even if I only saw a small part of it. But it was time to change region, it was time to go to Yunnan.
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