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JiuZhaiGou to ChengDu (21st Sept)
   
  5:30am, it's still dark and I am down at the living room trying to light the stove. It's still raining. The air is so moist that the firewood refuses to burn. All I have done is getting the whole place smoky after 30 minutes. Everything seems a little reluctant.

I can hear rain drops hitting the ground. I don't think I will be able to take a lot of PICs today anyway. Maybe it's time to leave. So be it.

Bus back to ChengDu leaves at 8am. There is no tour bus going towards the gate this early so we get a ride from ZhouMa's neighbor. When we hurry past the Reed HaiJis, we finally get to see a perfect mirror image of the mountains and trees. It's, however, 7:55am and we barely have time to take a quick PIC. Bye JiuZhaiGou, this is a nice farewell gift and I will remember it.  

 
Can't see enough of JiuZhaiGou? Kam pays another trip trip to JiuZhaiGou in Oct of 2002. October is the time of the year when JiuZhaiGou is the most colorful. Don't miss it. (Go to JiuZhaiGou Trip II)
  
  We are at the bus terminal. I want to tip the nice neighbor to show my gratefulness but he refuses. I feel bad as, in his eyes, he is like blaming me for putting a dollar sign on friendship. I am sorry.

There seems to be 2 different worlds inside and outside of the gate. Outside, people are materialistic and unmerciful; inside, people are sincere and hearty. Why 10 miles apart makes such a difference? All I can come up with is that JiuZhaiGou is really a fairyland.

 
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The hill side along at least half of the 290 mile road is not fortified. Lack the money I guess.

  It's already 8:05am but no one is leaving the bus terminal. 3 buses set off from ChengDu yesterday at 8am. Bus #1 arrived at 6am this morning. The other 2 are still having fun on the road. Continuous rain has caused landslides along the road. It's a recurring nightmare of JiuZhaiGou happening again.

Xing and Juan got their tickets yesterday. Me? I talk to the manager for 20 minutes and he insists there is no ticket left. In fact, he doesn't care.

At 9:30am, they decide to put whoever has ticket onto bus #1 and let it go first. So I have to use rule #1 of surviving mainland China - do it anyway while pretending to be innocent. I take a seat beside Xing on bus#1 and tell the ticket checker with a near-crying face "I am with him and I have to get back to ChengDu today." 5 minutes later, I get my ticket. Bingo.

  
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Fate is playing a game on me.  30 mins after we left JiuZhaiGou, I start kicking myself.
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Tibetan houses on the way.
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Local vehicles.
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More nice looking houses.
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A business trip?
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These little houses reminds me of Monopoly.
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Mr. Tibetan, do you know you are being tailed by a horse?
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In a little town. Mr. Whitehat is walking pass a furniture shop.
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The town of SongPan. It has a 600 year old city gate but the bus wouldn't slow down. When I have my camera ready, it's way too late.
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Coming thru, coming thru ...
   
 
  We stop for lunch around 1am. 15 minutes later, another bus pulls into the car park. A Swiss tourist I met back at the terminal gets off the bus.

After we left, 2 buses were sent from nearby towns to take care of the remaining passengers. These buses were 1.5 hours behind us, now it's 15 minutes. "These driver must have no wife and no kids!" says Mr. Swiss.

I also find out that my bus' driver is the one who drove the bus from ChengDu yesterday. That means he had only taken a 2 hour nap before he goes behind the wheel again.

When asked what he thinks of JiuZhaiGou, he says "I thought it was like a national park, quiet and nice. But in fact, there are way too many people around." I have my feet in the air to agree to his point. That is maybe the only shortcoming of JiuZhaiGou. If local authority is not paying attention to the problem, it could turn into a nightmare.

 
  Around 3pm, we see the end of the queue. And the waiting begins.
 
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Endless waiting. At 4pm, we see yesterday's bus #2 from ChengDu. Great.

 

  Just one day after I take this picture, a bus with a Hong Kong tour group flips into MinJiang near this spot causing 10+ dead and missing. Maybe my hunch to leave one day earlier is right after all. img_1258.jpg
Bored passengers buying tomato from a tomato field beside the road. They in fact have time for a few games of mahjongg before their buses move another inch.
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How the tortoise wins the hare? All it takes is a traffic jam.
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Another favorite activity - river watching. How interesting.
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Hi cute kids. Want to switch places?
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The fire dragon crawling slowly in the night. 
 
 
  At 1am, we reach ChengDu. It 4 hours late but it's not bad at all comparing to the other tour buses. So we are happy.

After checking into a hotel, we make use of our every minute to find good food.

  
ToFu Hua [ToFu_Flower] is very soft ToFu eaten as snack. In the south, we eat it with sugar. In the north, they eat it with soya sauce, green onion, and others.
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Spicy and sour. Topped with peanuts.  
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Never with meat before. Beef ToFu Hua this is. Not impressive though.  
This is Xing's recommendation. LaoZaoDan [Strong.Liquor_Marinate_Egg]. It's a slightly sweet wine bath with rice and flour balls. There is the egg too.  

"Zao" is a popular way of cooking in the north. In Hong Kong, we call it "drunken" whatever. Zao fish, Zao chicken, Zao whatever-food. All are very yummy stuff.

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... getting tired after eating ... ... zzz zzz 
 
   z z z .................
 

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