Well I finally decided to write about my trip to Sichuan that I had with 3 friends of mine. I went straight after the exams and was traveling from Friday the 18th of January till the 23rd. Be prepared for a long post. Here’s a pic of all of us during our trip so you have an idea with who I was traveling with.
Day 1: Leaving to Sichuan, Chengdu.
Our flight really early so we had to get up at 5 AM to leave for the airport. That meant me waking up at around 4:30 AM. O_o Anyway, we met up at 5 AM and tried to find a cab. Well yeah, good luck trying to find a cab at 5 AM in the morning on a Friday. After finally getting a cab while waiting for about 30 minutes we were finally off to the airport and our vacation trip started.
The carbide was the crappiest one I have ever had, that dude did NOT know how to drive. We all were glad when we finally arrived at the airport after a 45 minute cab ride. We proceeded to check in and get some food since we still had some time before we really had to board. Yep we went to get KFC before boarding since it’s kind of our un-official off the record tradition by now. It seems every time I travel I have some KFC before leaving towards my designated destination.
The plane left in time and we arrived according our flight schedule at Chengdu airport to be picked up by the pick up service that our hostel provided. We proceeded to go to Sim’s Cozy Guesthouse, checked in and went out to explore Chengdu. Our first stop was Wenshu Temple and we walked through the streets of Chengdu towards the temple. The first thing we notices was that the cars are dirty (really dirty) and that the people were really nice when we asked for directions.
We got at the temple and walked around for a bit and decided to have some food since it was lunch time already. We had some nice food and one of the nicest Sichuan style fish I ever had. The fish was luckily not that spicy but it was tongue numbing. 😀 After lunch we wanted to go to the city center but we ended up walking a lot while trying to find a cab. It seemed near impossible to find a cab in Chengdu, all the cabs were taken by only one passenger each and when we found one that was empty it didn’t want to stop and pick us up. Needless to say we were getting really pissed off about this. After a lot of walking we decided to walk back towards Sim’s Cozy and then we saw it. A taxi stand !!! Apparently you can only get on a cab at one of these stands that are scattered throughout the city. Well with our luck that day it was an empty one but at least we found out how to get a cab. >_<
When we got back we went to the travel desk they have and booked a private bus for our travel itinerary we made for the next day. Of all the hostels we stayed in Sichuan we must say that Sim’s Cozy has the best tour arrangements. All the other hostels only offered local Chinese Tours while Sim’s Cozy we got our own bus and could make our own itinerary. After booking the bus we decided to chill out at Sim’s Cozy and have a late night snack before going to bed. We had to get up early.
Day 2: Panda Breeding Base & Sanxingdui.
Day 2 … we got up early to go to the Panda Breeding Base so we could see the Panda’s while their most active … as in eating. 😛 Because the rest of the day they kind of … euhhh … sleep. >_< Anyway it was cool to see all the panda’s just eating and walking around. We saw an documentary about panda’s and it’s really weird to see how they try to mate and especially when a mother gives birth to their fist baby. They actually don’t have a clue as what to do after giving birth to a panda baby. We even saw a panda mother smacking their new born baby around in the cage. O_O >_< Also we saw people looking up towards the sky when looking for panda’s. It seemed weird and redonkulous to us but it all became clear when we went to look at the panda’s. When we got at a certain area there were a lot of panda’s walking around in their habitat and … sitting up in the trees!!! O_O Well guess that’s why the people in the documentary were looking upwards. It’s really amazing to see a panda sitting in a tree on a branch that looked like it would break at any given time. I really can not imagine that I would be able to sit on the same branch and it not braking on me. Anyway, not only that but there was this panda that was actually rocking on the branch like you do on a swing. We stayed in the breeding base for about 3 hours and then it was time to go to our next stop: Sanxingdui.
It took the bus about 1 hour to get there and during the trip we all had a powernap. 😛 We got at Sanxingdui and had some lunch before going in. It was not crowded and we walked around the site. We saw some artifact that were found there and I for one was amazed at the things I saw. I don’t know if it’s more impressive that the terracotta warriors as some say but it’s impressive nonetheless.
After getting picked up by our bus we were dropped off at Xinnanmen busstation so we could get the bus for our next stop in Sichuan province: Emei Shan. We got our bustickets and got on the bus to Emei Shan. The bus ride took about 3 hours and we got at Emei Town at around 9 PM. We got picked up by the free pickup service of the Teddy Bear Hotel. That was our final stop for the day. We checked in, had dinner and walked around and got some info for our trip to Emei Shan the next day.
Our initial plan was to visit Emei Shan, head to Leshan to visit the Buddah and then go back to Changdu where we had to take the long distance bus to go to Jiuzhaigou. But at Teddy Bear Hotel they told us that it was not possible to to Emei Shan and Leshan in one day and then also go to Jiuzhaigou so we had to change our travel plans. We decided to skip Leshan and just do Emei Shan and head to Juizhaigou. After replanning we decided to go to bed and rest up for a long day.
Day 3: Emei Shan & Juizhaigou.
We got up early to get an early bus to Emei Shan and when we got there we took a cable car up to a certain part of Emei Shan. It was misty and it was raining very lightly. It all contributed to the atmosphere of Emei Shan but it kind of impaired our view. To be honest one day is to short for Emei Shan and I personally plan on going back to visit it for a few more days somewhere in the spring. I want to stay on the mountain for the night and witness the sunrise on top of the mountain. But that will have to wait for now. We walked around for about 1 or 2 hours and went back down to get our stuff at Taddy Bear Hotel and left for Chengdu to transfer to the bus to Jiuzhaigou.
We got at the designated bus station with 40 minutes to spare, or so we thought. According to all the information me and Ana had when planning our Sichuan trip the last bus to Jiuzhaigou was to leave at 4 PM and we got at the bus station at 3:20 PM so all was ok. Until we wanted to get the bus tickets and we found out that they changed the time schedule. >_< According the new time schedule we missed the last bus to Jiuzhaigou, since it left at 2 PM. While we were pondering our options, even thinking of getting a black cab to drive us there, we finally decided on staying in Chengdu and go hostel hopping.
Our original plan of going to Juizhaigou and spending a day there and then come back to Chengdu for our last day was changed into staying in Chengdu and visiting Leshan instead.
We picked a hostel and called to book a room, after doing so we set off to check in at Dragon Town Youth Hostel. Of all the hostels this one had the nicest room. After checking in we decided to go to the city center. 😀 We got at Zongfu Lu, Hongxing Lu which is the shopping area and city center of Chengdu and has a nice dinner. After dinner we walked back to the hostel while exploring the city and taking a lot of pictures. We rearranged our plans again since we were not going to Jiuzhaigou and decided to visit Chengdu’s tourist spots.
Day 4: Du Fu’s Cottage, Wuhou Temple, Jinli Lu & Sichuan Opera
The next day we had a nice breakfast and went off to check in at another hostel which was near Dragon Town Youth Hostel called The Loft. After a 10 minute walk we got there and checked in our room. In my humble opinion this was the lesser of all the hostels we stayed. It’s ok but the other were just better. Anyway, we dropped our stuff and went sightseeing in Chengdu.
First stop Du Fu’s Cottage. Du Fu is one of the most revered Poets in Chinese history, moreover in the Tang dynasty. This was one of the most scenic places I’ve been to and the whole area was serene and beautiful. After walking around this beautiful place we got a shuttle bus to Wuhou temple.
When we got there we had a quick bite to eat at Jinli Lu, which is the tourist street next to Wuhou Temple. There you could buy a lot of souvenirs and stuff and just chill and relax. Wuhou temple was nice to see, to bad a whole part was closed off for preparations for Chinese New Year. In the evening we went to the Sichuan Opera which we booked through the Loft. It was entertaining and afterwards we didn’t do anything.
In the end it worked out pretty well that the bus schedule to Jiuzhaigou was changed. It gave us a chance to do some real sightseeing in Chengdu itself and have a less hectic and tiresome trip. If we had gone to Juizhaigou we would have been in the bus for about 13 hours to get there on day 3. Arriving at 6 AM or something like that on day 4. We only would have had one day there and then on day 5 we would have had to take the bus back to Chengdu for 13 hours. Which would mean that day would have gone to waste by purely traveling. We still plan on going to Jiuzaigou somewhere in the spring when the weather is nicer and more of the park is open.
Day 5: Leshan & Hot Pot of Death
The last day in Sichuan we decided to go Leshan to visit the Buddah. It took us about 3 hours to get to Leshan and we were only there for about 1 or 2 hours. We had some lunch and took a boat to see the Buddah from the water. The ticket was 50 RMB and we only had 5 minutes to take pictures. Well that was kind of a waste of our money. >_< But we got to see another world heritage site. It was still impressive to see it. We decided not to go and climb the Buddah since it would cost us more money and more time. So we went back to Chengdu which took another 3 hours. After getting back at the Xinnanmen bus station in Chengdu we walked towards the city center and had some relax time.
Yep we went to Häagen Dasz and ate chocolate fondue, Andrew thanks for treating us. 😀 After that we walked around some more and went back to the Loft to pick up our bags. Since you can’t go to Sichuan and NOT have the famous Sichuan Hot Pot we went to a hot pot restaurant to get us some. When we walked into the restaurant we saw other people having hot pot that looked sooo spicy it was just plain nuts in our humble opinion. There were people having hot pot which looked like they were only filled with peppers!!! O_o
We decided to take the lowest level of spicyness just to try. Like I said, you can’t go to Sichuan and not have NON SPICY Hot Pot. But anyway, were we in for a hard time eating … we even called our sorry ass lowest level spicy hot pot the pot of death. We drank a lot of bear to help us eat it and used the sesame oil to drown our food in before eating it. And to think other people in the restaurant were having hot pot that was much much more spicier than ours … O_O
It was a nice experience though and after eating we went to Sim’s Cozy for our last night in Sichuan. After getting back at Sim’s Cozy we dropped our stuff in our room and went to get some snacks and have a drink in their restaurant/lounge/bar to end the night and our touring of Sichuan.
Day 6: Going back to Beijing.
The next day we had to get up early to go to the airport. We used the service from Sim’s Cozy and we were off back to Beijing. We got at the airport and checked in our bags and got some food. Well … guess what we ate before going back to Beijing. Yep KFC. 😛 Anyway, the flight was delayed and we got back in Beijing around 3 PM and went straight to campus.
Well that’s all about my trip to Sichuan. Small summery and impressions:
– Cool travel group, Steven, Andrew & Ana it was a blast traveling with you. I had a lot of fun. Special thanks to Ana for helping me plan the itinerary and booking our flight tickets
– Nice people in Sichuan
– Visited 3 world heritage sites: Sanxingdui, Emei Shan, Leshan. The fourth one (Jiuzhaigou) will have to wait.
– Sim’s Cozy is the best hostel overall, specially with the tours they provide
– Dragon Town Youth Hostel has really nice rooms
– The Loft is ok, but the lesser of all the hostels we’ve stayed at
– Teddy Bear Hotel is cool, nice people and a very good location for climbing Emei Shan
– Getting a cab in Chengdu is not an easy thing
– The food is very nice, even if you don’t eat that spicy like me so don’t be scared
– Finally I will go back to visit Emei Shan and Jiuzhaigou when it’s nicer weather