Bright and early again today after the previous day on the road experiencing the Tibetan culture. We have breakfast at the hotel and ready to roll at 8:00 AM with our tour bus.
Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟, Jiuzhai valley) is at the north, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture (རྔ་བ་བོད་རིགས་དང་ཆང་རིགས་རང་སྐྱོང་ཁུལ, 阿坝藏族羌族自治州) of Sichuan province in Central China. Its name derives from Jiu-9, Zhai-village, Gou-Valley, named after the 9 Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) villages in the area.
This natural reserve have 17 waterfalls, 47 springs and 114 lakes in Min Shan (岷山) mountain range, stretches for 720 square kilometers and famous for various colors of blue and green and amazing range of colors with the forest and trees in the Autumn. But autumn is very high session for Jiuzhaigou.
Winter is also beautiful and today is lucky we have a clear blue sky as the backdrop of snowy mountains with the green and blue lakes and karst land form. Unfortunately while the park has giant panda and Sichuan golden monkeys, we didn’t get any peak from them.
Jiuzhaigou is an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and category V (Protected Landscape) in IUCN system, Man and the Biosphere and ISO 14,001 accreditations.
Entrance Ticket for off peak season is 80 CYN.
The Jiuzhai valley has a legend, like any mystical place everywhere. There’s a young god name Dage falls in love with the goddess Woluo Semo. He gives her mirror for her beauty. But alas, she breaks the mirror into 114 sparkling gems and formed the lakes of Jiuzhai valley.
Arrow Bamboo Lake (箭竹海, Jiànzhú Hǎi) at Rize Valley (日则沟)
Arrow Bamboo Lake is 2,618 meters above sea level with surface area of 170.000 square meters. Bamboo is the giant panda food but there aren’t much anymore presently.
Five Flower Lake (五花海, Wǔhuā Hǎi) at Rize Valley (日则沟)
Five flower lake or Peacock Lake is a 5 meters deep with 90,000 square meters at 2,472 meters above sea level. The different depths of water brings out the various colors from pale blue to aqua marine to emerald green. The colors are caused by different minerals, aquatic weeds and algae. In autumn, the surrounding trees will give a different reflection and a wonderful photographic dream. In Winter, the snowy mountain backdrop, the sky and the various light yellow, emerald green, blackish green, azure, dark blue and cadet colors give a different picturesque view.
Photo by Jacinda. I can’t resist wearing the Tibetan wardrobe.
Pearl Shoal (珍珠滩, Zhēnzhū Tān) at Rize Valley (日则沟)
The Pearl Shoal is 2,450 meters above the sea level in 112,3 meters wide and 189 meters long with an area of 21,224.7 square meters. The Pearl Shoal then flows to the Pearl Shoal Waterfall (珍珠滩瀑布).
Pearl Shoal Waterfall (珍珠滩瀑布)
Mirror Lake (镜海, Jìng Hǎi) at Rize Valley (日则沟) is at 2,390 meters with an everage depth at 11 meters with the deepest around 11 meters. The area is about 190,000 square meters. The wind is quite high at the moment so I didn’t get the ‘mirrored’ mountains and the lake.
A little walk on the shuttle bus road
Sights on the road
Tourist Center and restaurant in Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) colors
Long Lake (长海, Cháng Hǎi) at the Zechawa Gully (则查洼沟, Zécháwā Gōu)
The lake is crescent shaped and it is the highest lake, largest at 7.5 km in length and 103 meters in depth. Currently the lake is frozen so it’s mostly covered in ice.
Shedding tree for a new spring
Five-Color Pond (五彩池, Wǔcǎi Chí) at the Zechawa Gully (则查洼沟, Zécháwā Gōu)
A cute pool but the clear depth of water is a wonderful color. According to the Jiuzhai Valley National Park website, it has a legend where the Goddess Semo is washing and combing her hair when the God Dage comes everyday and brings her the water.
The Pool is 2,995 m meters above sea level and with the depth of 6.6 meters and the area of 5,645 square meters.
We have snacks here and take the mini van to the next sight since it’s rather farther back to the tourist center earlier
Nuorilang Falls (诺日朗瀑布, Nuòrìlǎng Pùbù) at Shuzheng Valley (树正沟, Shùzhèng Gōu)
This is a very long waterfall and definitely a trademark of the Jiuzhagou park. The waterfall are mostly frozen but with spring coming, some ice are melting. It’s at 2,365 meters above seal level with 20 meters high and 320 meters wide. The waterfall is formed from a fracture during quaternary period with the underground water from the Rize Valley (日则沟) flow here.
Rhinoceros Lake (犀牛海, Xīniú Hǎi) at Shuzheng Valley (树正沟, Shùzhèng Gōu) is part of the series lake Nuorilang Lakes (诺日朗群海, Nuòrìlǎng Qúnhǎi) and Shuzheng Lakes (树正群海 Shùzhèng Qúnhǎi).
Rhinoceros lake is at 2,325 meters above sea level with an average depth of 12 meters. It’s 2 kilometers long with an area of 200,000 square meters. This is the second largest lake after Long Lake (长海, Cháng Hǎi).
Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) prayer wheel
The prayer wheel (འཁོར) is made of metal with the mantra Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ (sanskrit:ॐ मणिपद्मे हूं, tibetan: ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་པདྨེ་ཧཱུྃ) or other mantra. With the movement, the earth move with it and recite the prayers for the world.
Prayer wheel with the flowing water moving the wheel and the prayers spin by the water with the prayer flags move with the wind.
Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) prayer flags
The surrounding area are sometimes decorated with the colorful prayer flags. The flags are originally from the Bön (བོན), another Tibetan Buddhism sect. The prayer flags here are rectangle called Lung Ta (རླུང་རྟ) or Wind Horse and hung on strings in high places like trees, temples, stupas and of course on the mountains as the symbol of the idea of wisdom, strength, compassion, well-being and good fortune.
There are five colors representing the five elements; blue as sky and space, white as air and wind, red as five, green as water and yellow as earth. The center has the drawing of a strong horse with three flaming jewels symbolizing the Buddha, Dharma (धर्म, Buddhist teaching) and Sangha (saṃgha, 僧伽, Buddhist community).
The surrounding has various mantras for particular deity from the Buddhist Bodhisattvas; Padmasambhava (པདྨ་འབྱུང་གནས་), Avalokiteśvara (སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས) and Manjusri (འཇམ་དཔལ་དབྱངས།). The images of four dignities or animals at each corner of the flag: dragon, garuda, tiger and snow lion.
The flowers of the late winter and the beginning of Spring:
Tiger Lake (老虎海, Lǎohǔ Hǎi) at Shuzheng Valley (树正沟, Shùzhèng Gōu) is part of the series lake Nuorilang Lakes (诺日朗群海, Nuòrìlǎng Qúnhǎi) and Shuzheng Lakes (树正群海 Shùzhèng Qúnhǎi).
Tiger lake is at 2,298 meters above sea level, 300 meters long in an area of 4932.3 square meters. It’s named after the wild roar from the nearby Shuzheng waterfall (树正瀑布, Shùzhèng Pùbù)
Shuzheng Lakes (树正群海 Shùzhèng Qúnhǎi)
Shuzheng lakes are series of lakes in various size and from some angle looks like a water terraces. The lakes has various depts, surrounded by plants. The colors are wonderful in deep blue to emerald green, clear water that shows the colors of plants and wood.
Bonsai Shoal (盆景滩, Pénjǐng tān) is a lower and slower lake with plants such as poplar, azaleas, pines, cypresses, willows etc. The formation looks like a human-made bonsai garden but it’s naturally designed.
Shedding tree for spring
Nine Treasure Lotus Stupa
The stupa is a Buddhist structure for the entrance. The nine stupas at Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) is to represent the nine Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) villages.
Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) prayer wheel
The colorful flags on the side road
Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) embroidery and weaving
Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) decorative belt (left) and adornment (right)
Decorative silver boxes
Tibetan (བོད་པ,藏族) knife (left) and pipe (right)
Hand prayer wheel
Amazing details in the hand prayer wheel
Tibetan dancing knife to dispel evil spirit, most likely use for ceremony
Printing plate for prayer flag
Masks for Lhamo or Cham
Da Na flag
Once we finish browsing the a bit small museum, we ride the bus back to hotel for a rest and dinner. More about Tibetan culture from Shanghai Museum in this post.
The next morning, our last day for our trip return to Chengdu, we have a commercial stops for the Chinese tourists who wants to shop for: Chinese Medicine, Chinese precious stones and Chinese-Tibetan food. I don’t shop anything but a bottle of water and some snacks for the road.
Our last stop is the 2008 Earthquake happen in Xuankou town (漩口),Wenchuan County (汶川县). The remains of the Xuankou middle school (漩口中学) becomes a monument to remember the students, teachers and workers who are killed and injured.
The rest of the trip back to Chengdu spend mostly on the bus with a stop or two for a quick restroom break. All in all I love going back to Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) and hopefully can stay longer and explore much more. There are some places I would like to visit like Huanglong National Park or other Tibetan villages.
Going back to Chengdu now and get ready to see Leshan’s Giant Buddha and Hike up Mount Emei.
Source information: Jiuzhai Valley National Park, Wikipedia