Qingcheng Shan's restroom facilities
Qingcheng Chan has restroom (bathroom, WC) facilities in various places on the mountain (see the map on the tickets for locations). They seem to be generally clean. One, on the path that parallels the chair lift, it's an automated, high tech composting toilet... the fruits of its and your labor can be seen in the small garden behind it. Very clean (Feb. 2008). The whole park seems well cared for, so I assume the other facilities are just as clean.
Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre - Part I
40 minutes to the northeast of central Chengdu is China's main Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre. Many Western visitors will have very mixed feelings about the centre, as most of the animal buildings are grim, dank, concrete 'bomb shelters'. The centre was built mainly in the 1980s when most zoo construction in the world was building stunning complexes with an emphasis on interpretation and education for the visitors and appropriate, interesting habitats for the residents; but in China, the 1980s and 1990s was the era when the country discovered concrete and the results will be a burden on China for decades to come.
There is much building work going on currently, with a new Panda Museum and a Panda Research Centre, but still "Mr Concrete" is getting his money and the building works look heavy on the cement and light on airy spaciousness - if you know what I mean.
Fortunately, the landscaping of the Panda Centre has been done well, with most of the 200 hectares planted as bamboo forest and woodland, with small lakes and pools. It is possible to get well away from the crowds of visitors - apparently up to 300,000 a day at times - by wandering away from the main enclosures. The most popular areas are the Infant Enclosure, the Juvenile Enclosures and the #2 Red Panda enclosure. At all three sites you will see "Chinese zoo behaviour" at its classic worst, with visitors heckling and shouting at the animals to get them to move. It's a pathetic sight to watch these people in action, and even many Chinese visitors are visibly embarrassed by the behaviour of many of the visitors. There are many signs requesting quiet - but it does seem impossible for these people to understand. It's all about respect, and that seems to be increasingly thin on the ground at these kinds of sites.
The Jiu Zhai Gou Nat'l Park ...
The Jiu Zhai Gou Nat'l Park (9 Strockage Gully) for stunning water scenes.
I also found this webpage has a very good travelogue about taking bus to Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu.
Jiu Zhai Gou national park is on UNESCO WOrld Heritage List, see website for details.
Adventurous trip to Jiuzhaigou in 1987
In 1987 I did a four weeks trip to China, my first trip! On the train from Xian to Chengdu I met a German woman Anita. She wanted to go to Tibet, but that was not possible in 1987. In her guidebook she had read about an area called Jiuzhaigou, where there obviously lived a Tibetan minority. She tried to persuade me to come with her to Jiuzhaigou. I did not want to go, as I did not know, where Jiuzhaigou was, and because I had only two weeks left to go back to Hongkong. After two days I gave in. My guidebook did not say a single word about Jiuzhaigou. And Anita's had only two sentences about it. We went to the Public Security Office, where a very nice girl in fluent German explained to us, that we did not need a special permit, that a bus would take about two days to go there and that Jiuzhaigou has a very beautiful langscape. We bought our tickets at the busstation and started very early on the next morning. After some hours the road went up into the mountains. The bus was old and narrow. We stayed overnight in a small town, the name of which we never got to know. The next day the road wound its way up to even higher mountains. On the left of the road was a deep gorge and on the right was a wall of earth. Our fear grew the higher we came. My knees started to hurt very intense because they were in direct contact with the seat before me. The road was slippy from rain. Anita and I held each other's hands, silently praying, that we shall not have an accident or slide down into the river below.
After some hours we came to a high mountain pass. It was foggy and cold. Then the road went down again and there was this spectacular view of snowcapped mountains!
Around noon our busdriver started nervously looking along the side of the bus. We hadn't seen a village in hours! Finally we arrived in a small Tibetan village.The bus stopped and the busdriver decided to change a tyre. I should have better not looked onto the tyre! It had no profile at all!. Thinking, that we had crossed the mountain on a dirt road with these tyres gave me shock. The next shock we had, was when we found the public toilet. Yes, there was a public toilet - maybe for the whole village! Some Chinese students, wo had been on the bus with us, warned us, not to use the toilets, because they were very dirty. So we went behind some bushes together with the girls.
While we waited about 2 hours, that the tyre was changed, the children of the village came to look at us. I think, they had not seen many foreigners in their live. The boys came curiously near and stared at us. The little girls were a little bit afraid of us and hided giggling behind this thin tree.
After another night at the entrance to the nature reserve we took another bus up the mountains. It took us and some Chinese students to the spectacular landscape of Jiuzhaigou. This lake is at about 3000 m and the mountains around are about 5000m high.
"Five Colour Lake"
The landscape was fantastic. I had never expected this mountains and lakes. We enjoyed a very nice day walking around, seeing Tibetan villages and the colourful trees of autumn.
We stayed in a village, which consisted of small hotels of Swiss Chalets style. It was very cold. No heating and not really warm blankets. In the evening it started to snow. It developed into a blizzard - thunder and lightning most of the night. In the morning the landscape was covered with a thick layer of snow. I was afraid, that maybe the road across the mountains was closed because of snow or landslides. So I urged Anita, that we should go down to the entrance of f Jiuzhaigou. Nobody could tell us, when or whether a bus would go this day or another. So we decided to walk the 25km. We tried to buy water or tea or at least beer, but it was not possible to get any of this. We had half a botle of red wine left over from the evening before. We started walking and drinking the wine. After a while the snow stopped and we came to green forest again. This photo shows me with the empty bottle and the other most important and than not easy to get item: toiletpaper!
After hours of hiking we finally reached the small hotel at the entrance. It was already getting dark.
We stayed overnight in Nanping, which is an interesting small town. We saw lots of minority people and donkey-karawans starting from this place. Here we are on the meat-market with the bloody skins of the cows drying in the sun.
When we crossed the mountain pass again, the sun was shining. The bus seemed better then the first one. We felt delighted, that we survived our adventure. And we enjoyed very much the nice, warm room in a nice hotel in Chengdu, when we finally arrived back.