China Recap: Chengdu & Jiuzhaigou

Happy 6th Month Blogiversery to me! As cheesy as that sounds, I can’t believe it’s only been six months. I feel like I’ve been typing my life away for much longer now! Weird to say but I miss all you guys, whenever I get good WiFi I try to check how everyone is doing and start commenting again. I feel MIA!

China Recap:

I left off the last recap about to board the plane to go to Chengdu!


I really need to make a map for you guys, since I understand all these city names sound the same after a while. Chengdu is pretty much in central China and is the heart of Sichuan provence, home of the numbing spicy and pandas (!).

When I say spicy, I really mean spicy. They use huajiao, which is a seed that numbs your mouth when you cook with the oil. It’s painful but it feels so good at the same time. I think it’s my favorite flavor in the whole world.


We walked around the city a little bit before heading home because 1.) it was starting to raining (boo) and 2.) we were starting our tour very early on the next morning.


My mom and I signed up for a 8 day tour which involved a lot of ancient sightseeing and scenic landscapes. Our first stop was to Jiuzhaigou, which is described as a fairyland on Earth.

Since it’s up in the mountains, our tour bus wove through a change of 8,000 ft of elevation in 12 hours. Altitude sickness wasn’t even a question, my mom and I had to drink two of these three times a day. I don’t know if it was placebo or not, but I really did feel instantly better!


Although our bus ride was around 12 hours long, the first 10 hours passed by like it was nothing. This was because we had the most beautiful scenic route ever. I seriously felt like I was in a movie, my words just dilute the beauty and serenity of the mountains. Pictures can’t even grasp the depth and mass of the huge land.


Tucked in the mountains, away from big cities are where the Ginger people live. They’re still very traditional and choose to have little help from the Chinese government. I happened to capture one as she walked by.

Would you cross this bridge for a million bucks? I feel like this is where they film the climax of movies and the good guy makes it through and the bad guy gets washed away in the yellow river.

The Min Jiang river followed us over 500 miles, talk about huge! It connects to the Yangzte river (3rd largest in world) at some point.


We also followed an ancient trade route where Princess Wencheng traveled for three years and married a Tibetan king to end the war in the year ~620. Some of it has been remodeled but the Chinese government has left a lot of it untouched. It really puts in perspective how old China is!


During a bathroom break, I had a little fun doing this.


A freakin’ yak! Can you believe it?! It kind of looks like a cross between a pig and a huge cow. I also can’t believe this view and we haven’t even entered the valley yet.


We got to Princess Wencheng’s city and did the whole tourist schlep. Their wedding had a lot of cultural significance (which you can read about in the Wiki I posted above so I don’t mess up any facts). She’s known for her duty and compassion on both the Tibetan and Chinese sides.



The last two hours of my bus ride started getting a little uncomfortable the higher we got up the mountain. At this time we were around 12,000 ft in the air. (Denver is around 6000~ ft for comparison).

A good night of sleep helped a lot.

The next day, we were finally able to go to Jiuzhaigou! Our tour guide said the first river we were going to see was the people river. Boy, she was not kidding.

Can you find us?


The bus ride was so worth it. I was in complete zen and tranquility.


The water in some of the lakes were so clear, like Jamaica mon clear.


We also saw some pretty bad ass waterfalls. I’d say Jiuzhaigou is Yellowstone on steroids, to put in comparison. (My, I really have a way with words, huh? 😉 )


Then, it started raining. Boo. At least it wasn’t 80+ degrees plus 99% humidity like it was on some days of my trip.


With over 20,000 people in the park that day, my mom and I was so surprised that there were some passages without human interaction. It was really nice to not have to get into elbow fights with a bunch of Chinese people.


Jiuzhaigou translates to Valley of Nine Villages. There are 7 existing Tibetan tribes that still live inside the national park this day. It’s pretty shocking to think about. Here is one of their houses.


One last picture of the five colored pond, which in autumn looks really breathtaking. The lake is pretty much clear, so it takes the reflection off the red, yellow and orange leaves and becomes a million dollar view.


I tried looking for a five colored pictures for you guys on google but the internet is really sluggish right now! Do yourself a favor and please google it!

After leaving and eating, we went to eat in a local town where I ran into this cutie. He was loving the camera and kept wanting to see the pictures I took!


My mom also started crying when she found out that this goat was going to be slaughtered as soon as the meat for-sale next to him sold. I asked her where she thought her dinner came from? (We don’t eat lamb/goat btw, you get the point though.)

He was so photogenic.


Lots and lots of bracelets for sale. I picked a few up for souvenirs for friends but left them at the hotel by accident. 🙁 I was so upset when I unpacked.


We were having a blast, making our way downtown, walking fast, faces pass to go homebound when we got hit with terrible news. There was mudslides, earthquakes and collapsed bridges that blocked our way home. We were going to be stuck on the mountain for an unknown amount of time. Over 400 people died and we would of been stuck in the tunnel if we left the mountains four hours earlier. We seriously got lucky. Panic struck our tour buses while everyone was racing to book flights back to the big city. Luckily, our family in Guangzhou was able to arrange us to leave as soon as we found out the bad news.


The mudslides pretty much cancelled our tour, we weren’t going to see anything else which pretty much bummed me out because the only reason I came was to see the Leshan Buddha.

Everyone got a flight booked out by night time, but we had to stay in butt fuck Egypt for two nights. There was only WiFi in the lobby which lead to a human disaster. The WiFi signal was only strong by this door, we all got a good chuckle out of it.


The last day, everyone was in good spirits because we had an amazing tour group. Everyone pulled together and acted as a huge family. I seriously felt like I was in the movie Babel at some point during all the chaos. I don’t mean to sound dramatic but it was really nerve wrecking for a long time.


I know my mom and I made some friends for life!

The next post (and last China post!) will leave you wondering if I chose between seeing the Pandas or the biggest Buddha in the world for our last day in Sichuan province. Tune in next time!

12 thoughts on “China Recap: Chengdu & Jiuzhaigou

  1. Omg, I love, love this post!!! China is even more gorgeous that I would have imagined! The water in that pond is soooo clear. WOW!! And that yak… I had no idea that was what they looked like. So cool! I can’t wait for the next recap post!

  2. Oh no, how horrible that 400 people died! I am so glad you and your family are safe! How scary to be so close to that.
    Jiuzhaigou is absolutely gorgeous, the water…so amazing! And the Yak is awesome too. I would have been crying with your mom as well, I’m such an animal lover. I hope you stay safe on the rest of your trip!

  3. Is this even real?!?! SO GORGEOUS TARA! Both you and your mom in the pictures and the actual pictures… I scrolled through a bunch of times just looking at all the pictures.. I love that lake!!! Holy crap I can imagine it’s unreal… 🙂 I want to see it when the trees are red and what not.. Awesome!

  4. Oh my gosh!! I’m so glad you and your mom and the rest of your tour group are okay! thank goodness you have family that helped get you a flight! 5 colored lake is gorgeous! i googled it 🙂 but fyi the pic you took of it is pretty spectacular. I love these updates, your photos are AMAZING. also im reading the wiki on princess wencheng now, incredible story!

  5. Happy half blogiversary!!!! Those pictures are beautiful and I’m incredibly jealous. Going to China is on one of the places that makes my bucket list!

  6. These pictures are so beautiful!

    Oh my GOSH, that is so sad and scary to hear about. Such a bummer that your tour was snagged, but I’m SO glad you weren’t trapped in the tunnel! I get major anxiety just thinking about it.

    Hope the rest of your trip is more fun. PANDAS!!!!!!

  7. Loved reading this tara. China is such a rich country with so much history. I could imagine the bus ride with clouds… ten hours is a lot, but I guess if it’s so beautiful, it would pass fast. Sounds like you have had an amazing time with your mom. That kid is so cute, and poor cow/goat. awwwww…. I know, I try not to think about stuff like that as I eat my chicken. 🙂

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