|JiuZhaiGou [Jiu-Zhai-Gou, Nine_Village_Valley ] (16th Sept)|
JiuZhaiGou is a place with stunning natural scenery. I have been wanting to
visit JiuZhaiGou for years but the 4-day travel overhead (2 days round trip
Hong Kong to ChengDu, 2
days round trip ChengDu to JiuZhaiGou - 290 miles north of ChengDu) detoured me a few
A TV show on JiuZhaiGou a few months ago had me frozen for a few minutes. The JiuZhaiGou on TV is much, much more colorful than the poorly compressed PICs on the internet. Enchanted by the images, I made up my mind that I will do it some day - and it's today.
|The backpackers' tour bus leaves at 8am. A few PICs on the way to the bus stop:|
|According to rumour, one bus per other month rolls into the river from the 290 mile road to JiuZhaiGou. We don't hear about it because the local authority has it "handled". I have to see the condition of the road in person.|
|On the bus, I start to ask about accommodation and related info. I heard that the JiuZhaiGou park doesn't offer multi-entrance passes. So I ask the tour bus guide if there is any accommodation inside JiuZhaiGou. She says "starting May, the inns run by villagers are not allowed to accept travelers anymore." And she goes on "but I can take you to our hotel outside of JiuZhaiGou". I have a feeling that I don't want to trust her.|
Evolving Western China - sitting next to me on the bus is a young ChengDu
businessman, Jun [soldier].
He is on a business trip to JiuZhaiGou to install 200 air conditioners. Kam's
experience with western Chinese is:
1) their mentality is still 20 years behind, especially those high officials. Still very authoritarian.
2) corruption is almost compulsory.
When Jun is asked to comment on this, he acknowledges that these are the facts of life in this part of China. He raises his index finger and say "Minus expenses, I am making only $120 on the 200 air conditioners. The purchaser, who doesn't have to invest a cent, makes 10 times of that. And payment is now 2 months overdue." What a tough business environment it is. "If things go on like this, I will go out of business this time next year."
Maybe the first thing needed to be changed is people's mentality if China is to develop it's west.
The bus zooms by a lot of towns without any intention to stop, even not at
the 600 year old city wall of SongPan.
But at near 5pm, it mysteriously pulls into a Tibetan Buddha temple.
Buddha students in Tibetan robes take us in groups and tell and show us
lots about Tibetan Buddhism. Nice but that is not the point of the stop. Then comes the part which we are persuaded to
buy. I wouldn't want to go into details but whole thing looks like a carefully
planned program that employs high level psychology.
1.5 hours later, we are back on the bus. Jun, who wouldn't even bother to get off the bus, smiles at the souvenir in my hand (yes, I bought something, so what!!!??? ). Jun goes, "you know what? They pay the tour guide and the bus driver $60 each to bring the bus here."
No offence, but this looks like a trap to me. At 10pm, tired and hungry, I am bused to the tour bus' associate hotel. When they think they got the resilient me under control, I walk with my last bit of energy to the hotel next door.
I enter JiuZhaiGou town at night. I thought it's a small and quiet town but nope,
it's not. It's a pretty busy town with lots of hotel built along the main
road. It's at least 7 miles long and according to Jun, there are 30,000
beds in these hotels. I wonder, is this under some sort of planning at
all? It would be terrifying if anybody can come here and build any number
After checking in, I take a walk
on the street and try to grab anything that can fill my stomach. I find
out immediately that:
This doesn't quite match up with my impression that JiuZhaiGou is a paradise. What an ugly start.
But only god knows what will happen tomorrow ...
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