Friday, October 18, 2013

Jiuzhaigou–THE Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Seen


Twice in my life I have felt compelled to thank the people in Corey’s world that have placed us in the cities we live in.  First was the … err…gentleman… who prompted our move to Dallas.  While it was hard to leave family, I truly feel it saved our marriage and we got to meet great people. The move to Dallas helped set up our move to Seattle.

The move to Hong Kong is without a doubt the move of a lifetime.  It’s hard to be a Mom and Sister from afar…and I do not know how people did it years ago before Skype, Whatsapp, internet and fast airplanes.  But I don’t have to worry about that.  All of the technology keeps us close.

Our move here has afforded the best travel.  My trip to Jiuzhaigou (zhoo – zhi-go) was, hands down, one of the most amazing things ever!

It was my first time coordinating and leading a trip for the American Women’s Association. No stress right?  Responsible for 11 others having a good and flawless trip…right…

We had a terrific group of travellers.  There were ups and downs (details to come)…but all in all it was amazing.

We landed in Jiuzhaigou and were greeted by Walter, our guide for the week.  He spoke great English (except every time he said “government” I thought he was saying “garment”)

We grabbed our bags…did the “bathroom thing”.  Bathrooms are an adventure in China…the question is always asked “How was it” or “How are they”  What we really want to know “Squat or No-Squat”,“Smelly or Not Smelly” “Paper or No Paper”  A bathroom that provides tissue is RARE…I’ve come a long way from Blue Jay Drive.

Our bus was waiting….with Oxygen. YES…each of us was provided with a bottle of Oxygen since where we were is about 4,000 meters (I looked out the window to see another tourist on a bus sucking hers down)

Here is Becky checking out the instructions!


IMG_1132 Me on the bus.  We passed plenty of these guys: Yakkity Yaks


IMG_1136IMG_1137IMG_1138IMG_1142IMG_1143Here are some of the Tibetan Villages we passed on the way to our hotel. The Village at the bottom was destroyed in the 2008 Earthquake and rebuilt up the road as a “Tourist Area”  We did not stop

We drove to the Jiuzhaigou Sheraton for a Hot Pot dinner, Internet in the lobby and to bed. The morning was going to come very quickly.

China celebrates Golden Week from Oct 1 – 7 (ish).  The ENTIRE country is off that week and as China has prospered, many have started to travel.  We heard reports that on October 2, the army had to be called to Jiuzhagou to handle the 40,000 (you are reading that right) people that came there to see the park.  Traffic was gridlock.  Tourists had to walk 5-10 km to get to buses.  There was almost a riot. 

Luckily, it was not nearly as crowded when we were there…but don’t get me wrong…it was plenty busy. 

The park has public buses so that those without guides can jump on and off to see the sights. But imagine dragging strollers, lunches, walkers, etc on and off these buses AND fighting for spaces.  I was advised and agree to pay to have a private bus (BEST MONEY EVER SPENT).  Walter let us know…repeatedly, how much more we paid for this (lots and lots). 


Here is a map of the park…you can see it’s shaped like a “Y”


We started the day at 7:00 with our mini-bus waiting for us outside. Walter took our passports and got our reserved tickets and the bus for us at 6 am.  The park is just a few minutes away and we got to breeze through lines and get the tour going.

At first it was very cloudy (with a threat of rain). 

IMG_0636I was truly worried how the day would turn out and yes, how the pictures would be without light and sun.  I had heard overcast was best for color(??) but this? 

I had the new camera with me…and my fellow travellers (Becky and Joanne) were VERY kind it helping with settings….or I would just sneak up behind them and copy theirs!  My favorite thing was playing with the settings to get the water to look like it was “frozen in place!



We moved through the park, and as the day progressed, it got lighter, so I became more hopeful for the pictures.

I did discover an amazing feature on my Canon Sureshot (point and shoot)…it has an “enhance image” feature (hey, three years in…not a bad learning curve!)…it pulls color (or maybe puts color) where it exists…case in point:

Before I found the setting:



IMG_1168 Just a little different!

Some of it looked too phony:

IMG_1186 VS IMG_1184but it was fun to play with

ANYWAY!  Off we went, moving pretty freely through the park:

Our guide set up our tour to go backwards…start at the least popular places and end at the most popular…thinking being most people do it the other way….this was truly helpful with crowd control…and AGAIN he stressed how much more we paid for the private coach (still worth it)

Much of the fun of traveling is taking pics of others.  Trust me…PLENTY of people too our pictures (most of our group was blonde so we were VERY popular)


I try to be respectful…ok…sneaky…or I ask in that universal non-language language (hold up my camera to show them I want to take their picture)

IMG_0727IMG_0806IMG_0773 (for a fee you can dress up in costume for you pics!)

The other thing about having a guide is that they tend to have the best ideas of HOW to see things…and this is where my breath was literally taken from my body.

IMG_0785 See that color of blue?  This color comes from elements in the soil.  We walked down a set of stairs, turned a corner to this.  I stopped in my tracks. 


IMG_0786It was a GREAT spot for our group photo!

This shows you the crowds…all of these people came down the “walking” path while we came down stairs from the bus parking area…our approach had NO people …which, you can tell…was good!


While we admired the spot…we grabbed our own pics (tough to try to shoulder your way in to get a pic without thousands around you!) Then moved on!


Our day progressed…the sun stayed out…playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds, but all in all it was gorgeous, and not nearly as cold as we thought it would be.

Here are some pictures so you can see the beauty of it w/o my words trying to describe the place!


IMG_0928IMG_0925(can you tell with these two I got fascinated with the reflections in the water??


How about having THIS as your wedding backdrop??

IMG_0921IMG_0918IMG_0916 There were tons of us taking their pictures!  They could have saved a fortune on a photographer!

We ended the day seeing a local show that showed us dancing from different ethnicities, etc.



IMG_1046IMG_1037Some of our group got up and danced with them.

It was a perfect start to our trip.  There promised to be more good days ahead.

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