Not sure I'd exactly recommend this experience, but one certainly tells it often. You see, many years ago, I'd seen a TV series called 'Beyond the Clouds', which was set in the beautiful mountain city of Lijiang. And I remembered seeing this small bus puttering along mountain roads on the way there, and had always seen myself repeating this experience, taking in the magnificent mountainous borderlands of Sichuan and Yunnan. So as our next destination was Lijiang, it was decided that we'd eschew the comfort of flying to Lijiang via Kunming, instead taking the more adventurous overland route - first by overnight train to Panzhihua, thence by means of that little puttering type bus, on across the mountains to our destination. Well that was the PLAN!
Our train (on which we only got hard sleepers), was spiffier than expected - carpet on the passageway and floral valances on the berths! The carpet was a good protection against the ubiquitous Chinese throat clearer. Got quite a good night sleep, and 14 hours later at 10am were exiting the station at Panzhihua, on the lookout for a bus to Lijiang.
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Despite my wife Minuk's concern of being stranded in this rather grimy mining town, it took about 5 seconds for a minibus to spot us and we were duly crammed in, and bounced of along the muddy road. It turned out that we were to be taken to another, larger and less salubrious bus - and as almost the last passengers, didn't have a choice of seats. The bus was full of chain-smoking, champion hawking and spitting and littering folk - quite friendly, but the atmosphere was thick, the floor littered with sunflower seed shells, eggshells and orange peel, and we had 8 hours of this ahead. I can tell you that Minuk was quite delighted!
After an hour and a half of travelling though (12:30), we came to a stop - at the back of a line of coal trucks, with one side of the road closed for road work. After half an hour, off we went again - not too bad considering we both thought. But we had thought too soon, and the bus came to a stop once more after only a kilometre. The line of trucks was no shorter. This time the stop was longer, and one passenger even departed the bus with a refund. Out the windows, we could see people with luggage walking either toward Lijiang, or back to Panzhihua! What to do? Most of our crew were staying put - they'd mostly stopped smoking because I guess they were afraid of running out of cigarettes. Even so, enterprising locals were selling stuff to the passengers of all the trapped vehicles. I went for a stroll - after about 50 assorted coal trucks, buses and the occasional car, the line met an equal or greater number facing the other way - with only one lane to drive on! At the meeting point, a group of drivers were discussing the situation. Meanwhile, the passage of pedestrian traffic continued - pigs driven along the road, a guy carrying a load of chickens etc.
The Sanxingdui Museum is located about an hour outside of Chengdu (near the town of Guanghan) and was built to house items unearthed from a major archaeological site in the area, the ruins of the ancient city of Sanxingdui. Once thought to exist only in legends, Sanxingdui was the capital of the Kingdom of Shu, the ancient forerunner to Sichuan. Shu existed from 1300 BC to about 350 BC, when it was conquered by Qin, the kingdom that ultimately unified China and built the Great Wall. The Sanxingdui site was discovered about 75 years ago when a farmer digging on his land came across ancient relics. Subsequent diggings unearthed an impressive range of ceramic, jade, and bronze items, the most impressive of which are huge bronze masks and ceremonial items. The museum is spread out over a handful of buildings in a beautiful park-like setting. Many of the exhibits have English signage, and audioguides in English are available at the front desk. Give yourself about two hours to go through the museum buildings and stroll around the grounds. There is a Chinese restaurant on the grounds, as well as a handful of gift shops.
[photos to come]
We had only four days and always like to take a quick look at the noted sights, but spend more time meeting the people, eating their foods and learning how they live. We are normally independant travellers, but few English speakers were expected to ask for help. To make the most of the short time, we contacted a personal guide with a car to take us where we thought we'd like to go and where he suggested. It was great! We most often were the only westerners around and he ordered local specialty dishes in small town restaurants, visited out of the way communities, etc. This is really the way to see Chengdu! Contact me for more info.
I really regret not having taken a picture of this. In Chengdu and surroundings the ‘ding ding tang’ is very popular. Now and then on the street you see a man passing who makes the sound ‘ding ding’ with a bell or something. You just have to call him. Then he puts his huge white block of candy out of his basket, and with his hammer and chisel he chips some small cubes of delicious candy from that block. Very cheap of course.
Ancient Chinese is written in the order from "up to bottom" and "right to left". So, please carefully ask your local guide if they know how to read and pronouce some restaurant names. My travel partner, a teacher, reads one famous local food "long chao shou" (a local wonton) as "shou chao long", which made us laugh loudly.
Actually, from characters and its writing order, we can understand that chinese culture is completely the opposite one to western culture.
The Dujiangyan Irrigation Project is 56 kilometers west of Chengdu at Dujiangyan city lying in the middle reach of Minjiang River, the longest tributary of Yangtze River.
Since ancient times the Minjiang River has surged downward from Mt. Minshan thrusting itself into the Chengdu Plain. When reaching the flatlands the rivers speed slowed down abruptly. Thus the watercourse filled up with silt making this area extremely vulnerable to flooding. The people living on the Chengdu Plain consequently suffered a great deal from frequent floods.
Around BC 250 during the Warring States Period, Libing, a governor of Shu in Qin state (present Sichuan Province) with his son directed the construction of Dujiangyan. He employed a new method by channeling and dividing the water to harness the Minjiang River. Libing designed dykes to partition the Minjiang River into outer river and inner river. The inner river diverts water to the Chengdu Plain while the outer river carries off 80% of silt. The project effectively put the flooding waters under control.
While waiting for the boat to take me to the Leshan Giant Buddha, I wandered around the town of Leshan, exploring the local market. You will be surprised and amazed at the type of seafood that is being sold - eel, prawns, fish etc. There are also stalls selling vegetables, spices, and even live chicken and rabbits! I have not tasted rabbit meat but I am sure the rabbits are meant for the cooking pot rather than as pets.
There was a lady who was removing the gut from eel - a very bloody sight with blood spilling all over onto the street.
Mount Emei and the Lashan Buddha is a must do if your spending a few days in Chengdu.
Justification for Inscription of the World Heritage Site.
The Committee decided to inscribe the nominated property under cultural criteria (iv) and (vi) considering the area of Mt. Emei is of exceptional cultural significance, since it is the place where Buddhism first became established on Chinese territory and from where it spread widely throughout the east. It is also an area of natural beauty into which the human element has been integrated, and natural criterion (iv) for its high plant species diversity with a large number of endemic species. It also underlined the importance of the link between the tangible and intangible, the natural and the cultural
There are some really magic places outside of Chengdu, mountains and caves
and stuff which makes the whole trip worthwhile.The picture was taken
from the beaten path early one morning.But Chengdu was off the beaten
path back in 1986, so maybe it qualifies. The zoo has pandas and there
are also wildlife parks with wild pandas.
Most people back then were still wearing Mao blue pajamas and a lot of the young
were into 70`s style clothes like flares and platform shoes!
This is a one-room tiny museum run by a local enthusiast.
The museum features the display of Mao Zedong's paraphernalia. The person who run this tiny museum is called - Wang an Ting and he's been collecting Mao's portraits, statues and other things since 1951. This small humble room is filled with things reminding you of the great chinese father.
it was kinda difficult to spot the museum, but with help of locals it wasn't so hard after all. It seems like everyone knows about this place. Unfortunatly by the time we found the place we descovered that it was closed, still I get to take some pictures from outside (i'll post them later). If you have time to spend in Chengdu this can be interesting...
Go north-west from TianFu Square, untill you get to the junction of DongChengGen Jie and ShangYe Jie. from there go to the right and turn to the first street on left.
Do pay a visit to Qin Tai rd., if you have time. It is a road whereby the buildings on and around it are nicely renovated and painted to give the place a very nostalgic feeling. You can buy some souvenirs here. Look for a little souvenir shop a few doors from the crystal shop. It is easy to distinguish the shop cause its setting is different from other souvenir shops, and the souvenirs look much better. The souvenirs found here are sold by a lady from beijing who does special orders for government officials. So the souvenirs are usually limited editions and are better crafted. Qin Tain Road is great for a picture or two, really.
Siguniang means "four maidens" in Chinese and this mountain is a popular getaway from Chengdu as there is trekking opportunities here. Also, there is Mount Gongga which is the highest mountain in Sichuan with several glaciers, including the famous Hailougou glacier.
This place is located near to Chengdu, and is an example of one of the achievements of the ancient Chinese civilisation. This project manage to successfully split a major river in Sichuan into two rivers, thereby providing precious water to many people.
Like Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong is another place located near the former which contains many colourful pools of water formed by mineral deposits. Usually, tourist will visit both at the same time, and sometimes they will go to Mouni-gou as well.
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