After some of the busiest weeks we've had in our 3-4 years Shanghai-life we've finally landed in Jiuzhaigou, North Sichuan. A trip we've been waiting for but not really thinking too much about because of our busy schedule: Leaving our jobs, moving out of our little home in the French Concession and making our new life as "nomads" a reality.
Our original plan with this trip was to visit Tibet, a place most people dream of visiting some day (7 years in Tibet with Brad Pitt anyone, I love it!). But as a foreigner or non-Chinese that is, getting into Tibet is not exactly easy. A Chinese visa as we obviously posses is not enough, you also need a Tibet travel permit. This is only issued by certain registered travel agents in China, who only issue it when you book your tour through them. This means they will not only decide every little step of your way in Tibet, they will also escort you 24/7 as they legally are responsible for you during your trip. And this is typically not cheap (though I'm not an expert on all options out there).
Long story short, this is not the kind of trip me and Leon favors so we might get back to the true Tibet experience idea when we get older and less adventurous.
For this trip Leon quickly came up with other ideas: travel to North Sichuan, Southern Gansu and Qinghai which have a lot of traditional TIbetan areas, Tibetan monasteries and villages. We booked 2 plane tickets to Jiuzhaigou in North Sichuan and decided the first stop to be the Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park, known for covering some of the absolute most beautiful nature in China.
Yesterday morning we got up when it was still dark at 4.30am to catch the 6.40am flight directly to Jiuzhaigou - a 3.5 hours trip (another option is to fly to Chengdu and bus to Jiuzhaigou but we've both done the Chengdu/panda mission and just wanted to go straight to the edge of the Tibetan Plateau). In the car to the airport Leon did the last (or first?) research for the trip as well as looked for accommodation. Tells you a bit about how well-planned we are this time =)
Flying into Jiuzhaigou was incredible. The mountain peaks were almost too close and we got a really good look as we had to circle around for 30 minutes before landing due to weather conditions. This did not come as a shock, we knew Jiuzhaigou would be around half the temperature of Shanghai's close to 30 Celsius degrees and we knew the weather forecast was a rainy one... Surprisingly enough, when we finally landed we were met with blue sky & strong sunshine. Air was crisp and most people only just picked up their luggage before they got changed into winter clothes.
We picked up some SWEET corns (not the white boring "food corn" you normally find in China), bought an 50 RMB transport ticket to the Jiuzhaigou national park area and waited for our mini bus to fill up.
After 2 hours car ride we arrived at a hostel style hotel my instagram friend had recommended me one hour earlier (oh yes love how that works). It's called Angelie hotel, is located 10 minutes walk from the national park entrance and is a super simple living. Private rooms were RMB 230/night online but we negotiated our room down to RMB 140/night.
After a Chinese lunch at one of the neighbor restaurants we went out to explore, to enjoy the fantastic weather and to pick up park tickets for the following day!