Tuesday, September 9, 2014

China 2014 (Summer)

" Love is the food of LIFE. Travel is the dessert. Little by little, one travels far "

" Change is always difficult in the beginning, messy in the middle & gorgeous in the end " 

" There are 4 things in this world I really need when travelling. Can eat, can walk, can sleep & of course, a nice bowel movement every morning "  

" My 22 days traveling solo to Sichuan, Yunnan of  China ( Chengdu, Kangding, Tagong, Daocheng, Yading, Shangrila, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lijiang, Lugu Lake, Xichang, Emeishan ) from 16/8 - 6/9/2014 - taking a rough ride to admire the natural landscapes & mountainous regions & the Tibetan plateau of Sichuan & Yunnan "

Travel itinerary: Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia > Chengdu > Kangding > Tagong > Kangding > Daocheng > Yading > Daocheng > Shangrila > Tiger Leaping Gorge > Lijiang > Lugu Lake > Xichang > Emeishan > Chengdu > Kuala Lumpur

Total cost incurred (22 days): Rm705 + CNY4,029 = Rm2,810 (US$870)

Air Asia ticket (booked online on 30/11/2013): Rm619(US$194) 
KL>Chengdu 09.15>13.40; Chengdu>KL 11.55>04.30

Airport bus/taxi: Rm71 + CNY20

Hostels (dorms- 21 nights): CNY$855
Food & groceries: CNY973 + Rm15

Entrance fees: Total = CNY393

-Yading - CNY80 (senior)
-Tiger Gorge - CNY65
-Lugu Lake - CNY100
-Emeishan - CNY90 (senior)
-Panda breeding center - CNY58

Bus (long distance): Total = CNY923

-Chengdu>Kangding: CNY119
-Kangding>Daocheng: CNY136 + CNY10 (service fee)
-Daocheng>Yading>Daocheng: CNY50 x 2
-Daocheng>Shangrila (Zhongdian): CNY113
-Shangrila>Tiger Leaping Gorge: CNY50
-Town Entrance > Lower & Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge: CNY35
-Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge > Lijiang: CNY50
-Lijiang>Lugu Lake: CNY100
-Lugu Lake>Xichang: CNY95
-Emei>Chengdu: CNY50
-Chengdu>Huanglong Si ancient town>Chengdu: CNY14 + CNY`10.50
-Chengdu city bus to Panda center, Big & Small Alley, Sanshengxiang Flower Village & return: CNY51

Taxi, resort shuttle bus & cable car: Total = CNY460

- Yading: CNY120 + CNY80

- Ta Luoshui > Lugu Town (taxi): CNY30
- Emei: CNY90 + CNY120 (cable car)
- Emei train station>Baoguo town (taxi): CNY20

Train (Xichang>Emei): CNY62.50 + CNY10 (service fee)

Bicycle rental: CNY23

Day tour (cost sharing): Total = CNY170

-Tagong Grassland / Sinduzio - CNY120
-Lugu lake - CNY50

Sundries: CNY130

Exchange rates: CNY$1=Rm(Ringgit Malaysia)$0.52; US$1=Rm3.23; Euro$1=Rm4.32

Map of Sichuan
Map of Yunnan

I skipped visiting Tibet again and opted for this visit to the south west regions of Sichuan & Yunnan. So I am still chasing my Tibet dream .........

It was late summer & early autumn when I visited Sichuan & Yunnan in this trip - the weather was superb (16-20c) especially in the mountainous regions of these two provinces in China. However, the long distance bus journeys (average about 10-13 hrs ride) starting from Chengdu to the various major towns in the south west of Sichuan & Yunnan were arduous & strenuous so you have to be mentally & physically prepared to face the various challenges along the way ie high altitude sickness, poor public amenities, part of the roads in terrible state etc. Fortunately, as a seasoned traveller, I was able to endure and withstand the journey ! 

Forget about shopping in these places but instead you will be rewarded & greeted by stunning mountain scenery, beautiful natural landscape & grasslands, charming lakes, a rich Tibetan culture - you will never get bored the moment you embark on this adventurous trip starting from Chengdu to Kangding, Tagong, Litang, Daocheng,Yading, Shangrila, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lugu Lake, Lijiang, Mt Emei ......... the best of Sichuan & Yunnan awaiting for you to explore & experience ! 

For those who are ambitious, travellers may look further afield by visiting the smaller towns along the Tibetan & Sichuan / Yunnan borders ie Dege, Batang, Derong & Deqen, this will probably satisfy to a certain extent your curiosity to know more about the Tibetan world - short of a visit to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet in China !

When in Chengdu, please make sure to pay a visit to the The Research Base of  Giant Panda Breeding - the entrance fee is only CNY58 to see this tame black & white bear, a rare & protected specie animal & a national treasure in China ! Indeed, Sichuan is the home & cradle of giant pandas. China called it The Panda Charm ! 

Chengdu, Sichuan

Panda Breeding Center, Chengdu

Kangding, Sichuan

Kangding, Sichuan

Tagong, Sichuan

Tagong Grasslands, Sichuan

Daocheng, Sichuan

Daocheng town center

Yading, Sichuan

Shangrila (Zhongdian), Yunnan

Shangrila Old Town

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan

Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan 

Lijiang, Yunnan

Lijiang Old Town

Lugu Lake, Yunnan

Lugu Lake, Yunnan

Xichang, Sichuan

Qionghai Wet Land, Xichang, Sichuan

Emeishan, Sichuan

Mt Emei, Sichuan

After completing the 18 day of strenuous and arduous journey to the mountainous regions of Sichuan & Yunnan and as a traveller, one would smile like the picture of this Tibetan lady - sweet & confident looking ! 

" Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the LIFE you have imagined " 

Chengdu, Sichuan China (2014)

Total cost incurred (5 days): Total = Y558

Hostel (4.5 nights): Chengdu Traffic Inn Y170 (dorm)
Food: Y140
Bus: Chengdu>Kangding Y119; Chengdu>Huanglong Si Y25 (return)
City bus: Y23
Sundries: Y122
Airport bus: Y10 + Y10
Entrance fee: Panda Center Y58
Chengdu is about 4.5 hr by air from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

My last visits to Chengdu were in 2009 & 2012. My main purpose of visiting Chengdu was to join a 7 day tour package to Lhasa & Mt Everest Base Camp but due to high pricing ( US$1,000 for a package tour from Chengdu to Tibet excluding train tickets of  CNY1,900 return ), I opted for a free & easy visit to the southern mountainous regions of Chengdu & Yunnan. The money was well spent as I visited 3 UNESCO world heritage sites ie Mt Emei, Tiger Leaping Gorge & Lijiang. Along the way, I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a few smaller towns ie Ya'an, Yajiang, Litang & Xiancheng. Other scenic places I visited were Lugu Lake, Tagong grasslands, Daocheng, Yading, Shangrila, Kangding & Xichang. 

In Chengdu , I stayed in Traffic Inn which is a 5 minute walk to the Xinnamen bus station. From Xinnamen, I took public buses to Kangding & Huanglong Xi ancient town. Nearby Xinnamen, it was quite convenient to take public buses to Panda breeding center, Big & small alley & Sanshengxiang flower village. 

I intend to take my wife to visit Chengdu in Oct 2015 and the places I like to visit are Jiuzhaigou, Bamboo Grove & Jinsha Relics and re-visit Leshan, Mt Emei etc

In mid-August, the weather in Chengdu was around 26c and towards early September, it was much cooler. 

Xinnanmen Bus Station

5 minutes walk to Traffic Inn Hostel, Chengdu

1) Panda Breeding Centre, Chengdu ( bus No 49 near Xinnamen bus station to last stop and change to bus No 87 to the breeding center)

Panda Breeding Centre
Greeting from a golden panda 
Solo travellers are loners? Friendier ? Aggressive ? 
Breakfast time - pandas are bamboo eaters 
The CV of a Panda named Da Jiao
looked like a big squirrel climbing tree  
Pandas are playful animals 
This adult panda looked like a polar bear 
5 cute little pandas - sleep well, my dear !
2 little pandas well taken care by the keepers

2) Huanglong Xi ancient town ( take bus from Xinnamen bus station )

1.5 hr by bus from Sinnamen bus station

old stone bridge 
water fountain in front of  Huanglong Xi gate
crossing a turtle/frog shaped walking path
old & unique architectural buildings
Huang Long Xi Gate
traditional shops with a unique roof top
nice & serene - great for a stroll to admire the surrounding 
looked like 2 bull dogs guarding the front

3) Kuanzhai Alley (Broad & narrow alley), Chengdu ( take bus No 62 )

It was early autumn when I visited Kuanzhi Alley
turn left to narrow alley
broad alley 
one of the small alleys or hutongs
another alley - you won't get lost !
the front of a courtyard house
 a Qing dynasty house
ancient buildings 

4) Sanshengxiang Flower Village, Chengdu ( take bus 343 near Xinnamen bus station )

30 mins by bus from Chengdu city centre

a flower town or village in rural area of Chengdu
the start of the San Sheng Hua Xiang scenic area
a holiday resort hotel in San Sheng Xiang
full of flowers 
Cheng's style flower & plant nursery 
flowers, flowers, flowers
a flower farmer's  village 

5) Chengdu by night

15 mins walk from Traffic Inn hostel
up market apartments 
a upmarket shopping mall
Prada, LV - all branded labels on sale here