Good Morning Bangkok
Our flight to Chengdu was 10.05 am. Although we had already done online check in for our flight, we would want to be at the airport by 8 am. So we went up to the rooftop restaurant for breakfast slightly before 7 am.
Breakfast would start at 7 am and was getting ready by the time we arrived. We took the opportunity to look around the Bangkok scene from up here. On hindsight, we should have come up here the previous night to check out the night scene with the busy night market below. The views of the surrounding were pretty nice with the sun beginning to rise from the far end.
Next we helped ourselves to the modest breakfast spread. Breakfast was decent given the price we paid for the room. The breakfast wasn’t sumptuous but sufficient. After this quick breakfast, we returned to our room, freshened up and then checked out at front desk. We got back the same THB500 deposit we gave to the staff upon presentation of the receipt.
Patra Hotel to Ratchaprarop Station onward to Airport
According to the map provided by Patra Boutique Hotel, there is a short cut to Ratchaprarop Station. So instead of turning left out of Patra Hotel and then left and another left turn again towards Baiyoke Sky Hotel to walk back to Ratchaprarop Station, we turned right and walked across the railway tracks and then turned right to walk to Ratchaprarop Station not far ahead. It took only 5 minutes. However, you can’t drag your bags all the way as the path is uneven and having to walk along some dirt path.
We then entered the station and got our tickets easily at the ticketing machine. Next we went up to wait for the train to the airport. Soon, we boarded the train and were on our way to the airport. The train became crowded soon after at the next few stations. Eventually, we arrived at the airport in good time near 8 am. Staying at Patra Boutique Hotel was really convenient and affordable as well.
Airport tax and Clearance
At the Thai Airways counter, we encountered some problem. We booked our tickets through cheaptickets.com but for flights with transit more than 12 hours, airport tax out of Bangkok was not included. We had to pay an additional THB700 each.
After getting our boarding passes, we cleared custom and immigration and then spent some time windows shopping inside the airport. We had no intention to buy anything yet as we were only beginning our tour to Chengdu and Chongqing. Soon we were called to board our flight much earlier as we were required to be bused to the aircraft parked quite far away.
Nice Flight from Bangkok to Chengdu
Once boarded the plane, we sat back to enjoy our flight to Chengdu. The flight was pretty smooth and the food served onboard was quite good. We had a good aerial view of Kunming as we flew past, a massive city where we would be visiting again in December with the children this time.
We landed without incident and cleared custom and immigration in Chengdu. After collecting our bags, we followed the signage out of the airport to look for the bus terminal to take a bus to Dujiangyan. According to the Chengdu Airport website cdairport.com, there are buses to different destinations from the airport bus terminal.
So we walked along the pavement outside the airport to the bus terminal. It took us nearly 15 minutes to get there. We thought the bus terminal was integrated with proper walkway to the bus terminal but it was not the case. Good thing it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t too cold.
Chengdu Airport Bus Terminal to Dujiangyan
At the bus terminal, we had to scan our bags again before being allowed inside the terminal. We bought our bus tickets to Dujiangyan without any trouble. But the counter staff required us to provide our passports to buy our tickets. Cost for bus tickets was CNY27 each and departure time was 3.40 pm. So we still had some time to rest after the long walk to this bus terminal which wasn’t very big but with a convenience store to cater to passengers’ needs.
About 20 minutes later, we boarded the bus with a just few passengers. Once the bus left the exit of the terminal, a few more passengers boarded the bus. The bus then travelled along and entered another bus terminal just outside Chengdu City. More passengers boarded the bus. Those passengers would didn’t get tickets at the airport terminal paid the driver and got their tickets from him. We were then finally on our way to Dujiangyan travelling on the highway.
Taxi to Dujiangyan Ancient Town
We arrived at Dujiangyan bus terminal slightly after 5 pm. After collecting our bags, we walked out to the main road where many taxis were waiting to take passengers. One driver approached us and asked where we were going. We showed him the address of Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel. We were told our hotel is located inside the ancient town along a pedestrian street where the taxi won’t be allowed to enter. He asked for CNY20 to send us to the main entrance where we would have to walk into Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel.
Although we knew our hotel is not very far away from this bus terminal and CNY20 seemed a little high, we didn’t really mind as the amount wasn’t very exorbitant and we also wanted to get to the hotel early. So we took his taxi and had a nice conversation along the way where he shared with us some history of Dujiangyan. In under 15 minutes, we alighted at the main entrance of the ancient town in a very busy part of the city.
The main entrance here was pretty nice at a busy street junction with shops outside the gate and across the street. The gate was very grand too and we were getting excited. After snapping a few shots of the surrounding, we lugged our luggage and walked into the ancient town. The ambiance here was very pleasant passing shops in this ancient town setup. Surprisingly, we arrived at Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel at the street junction pretty soon, in about 3 minutes walk from the main gate.
Front desk staff were friendly and helpful. We were given keys to room 309. Once we entered this room, we were very pleased to find a huge room with a large comfy king bed. A panda cushion was on the bed as part of the deco. Bathroom was big too with a good size shower stall. This huge nice room was a contrast to the modest 3-star hotel we stayed in Bangkok before arriving here.
Our room is located at the street corner where we had very good street views below. The views outside were indeed nice as we witnessed the street lit up below. It was low season so noise wasn’t an issue. Although the lighting in the room was a little dim, we were more than happy with this clean and nice room, so comfortable and convenient right in the middle of the ancient town in Dujiangyan.
Having settled in, it was time to explore the ancient town and have dinner. Back to front desk, the duty manager recommended we try the local restaurant not far from the hotel. The location of the restaurant is just right ahead of the hotel in a side lane on Zengjia Alley. So we set out to look for the restaurant.
Spicy Sichuan Dinner in Ancient Town
Xinfu Road pedestrian walk was lively and colourful in the evening. We walked ahead on Zengjia Alley and turned right into a side lane and found the local restaurant easily. The restaurant was empty when we arrived but there were diners inside another private dining room. We were given the menu and having checked with the restaurant owner, we placed our order for just two dishes of the local food and a soup.
Soon our food came together with a tub of rice. Tea was served as well. The food turned out to be more spicy then we expected even though we told him not to cook too spicy for us. So obviously we couldn’t finish the food but it was a good experience of the local Sichuan food. The dinner wasn’t expensive too. This restaurant is patronized by the locals as well as some local tour groups.
Pretty Night Scene of Main Gate in Ancient Town
After dinner we walked back to Xinfu Road and then turned left to walk back to the main gate. It was a very pleasant and lovely evening strolling on this beautifully lit up shopping street. Soon we were back to the main gate.
Outside the main gate nicely lit up now were LED lit balloons. Taxis on the road were also painted in black and white resembling pandas. It then dawned on us we were now in the land of the pandas.
Turning left to explore a little, we went into a very nice bakery. The hotel duty manager told us about this bakery earlier. This bakery seemed to be very popular here pulling in crowds. The bakery also generously offered sampling of their buns and other items. They were really tasty.
After sampling some items, we wanted to buy one of the cinnamon rolls but unfortunately, they were sold out. The lady staff was so kind to give us the remaining sample about two third of the package free and packed it nicely for us. Of course we also bought other bread and pastries. After this nice encounter, we told the staff we would return three days later to buy more items as we would be heading to Siguniang Mountains the next day.
Windows Shopping inside Ancient Town
We then returned to the ancient town and walked back along Xinfu Road. It was a nice stroll again to enjoy the lights and the shopping scene here. Even though it was already winter, it wasn’t too cold yet. But shops were selling winter wears and prices were reasonable too. One lady staff outside a shop dressed up in traditional costume even allowed us to take a picture of her.
So we returned to Zengjia Alley and explore further down the street. Over here, vehicles can enter the ancient town. Hence, taxis could have sent us to the doorstep of Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel located at the junction of Xinfu Road and Zengjia Alley. However, the hotel address is listed as Xinfu Road which is a pedestrian street so taxis won’t want to enter the ancient town.
The night scene here was really nice. We checked out shops and made mental note of souvenirs to buy when we returned in three days time. Staff manning the shops here were friendly and cheerful. There are many shops and restaurants inside the ancient town.
Great Ambiance inside Ancient Town
The canal running along the middle of the ancient town was very pretty, nicely lit up greatly enhancing the ambiance inside the ancient town. It was low season here during winter and the crowds were thin.
What we didn’t like was smokers were smoking away everywhere and locals and domestic tourists spit on the streets. Spitting is not so common in big cities like Shanghai and Hangzhou but over here, this bad habit is yet to change. So we had to put up with such uncouth behaviour during this tour in Chengdu and Chongqing.
We continued exploring several streets in the ancient town doing windows shopping for the time being. We saw a very nice café, Panda Coffee, and went up thinking of sitting down for a nice cup of coffee. While the café was very nice and we liked the ambiance, unfortunately smokers were allowed inside the café, so we decided to leave. We also noticed there is a Walmart inside the ancient town as well.
We then roamed other parts of town and went into a very nice panda theme hotel. This hotel was rather quiet but we like the panda deco inside this hotel. This hotel is like an art gallery. You can buy some of their art pieces and books here. The hotel rate seemed to be reasonable as well. Perhaps this was low season.
Next we returned to Xinfu Road and walked on towards the end. There were shops in the middle of the street selling tea leaves and souvenirs. The art deco on the street were very pleasing as well. There is a small aquarium as part of a museum further down the street. It was already a little late so we didn’t want to spend money to enter this museum.
We then turned left into Yangliuhe Street. We were suggested to visit the famous Blue Bridge in Chinese. So pretty soon we arrived at the entrance of this very elaborately designed bridge. The bridge is very beautiful in its architecture. The warm light also gave this bridge a very grand feel of this ancient bridge.
So we walked up to the bridge and enjoyed the art paintings on the ceilings of this bridge. We recalled the beautifully painted wooden bridge on the lake in Lucerne Switzerland we visited many years back. The bridge here is just Chinese style. There were some visitors up here on the bridge taking pictures and checking out the surrounding area.
We went to the sides of the bridge to enjoy the night scene along the river where restaurants dot its bank. The roaring mighty flowing rapid below was a little scary. The river flow was so fast. Anyone falling over would certainly be swept away.
The lighting here brought out the best of what this whole area had to offer. The bridge here is part of the irrigation project in Dujiangyan where the main entrance to the scenic park is further ahead after walking across this bridge. The park was of course already closed at night.
While busy taking pictures, my dear wife screamed when she realized someone was standing so close next to her in mascot costume. The person was standing so close silently and gave my wife a fright. There were several people wearing mascot tubes hoping visitors would take a picture with them for a fee. But standing so close silently wasn’t appreciated though.
Having enjoyed the bridge scene, it was time to return to Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel. We walked back through this artistic ancient town towards our hotel. By now, the place became a little quiet and shops were closing. It was winter after all and shoppers won’t hang out so late. The more lively places at night would be the stretch of restaurants along the riverbank. There are a few Muslim eateries inside the ancient town as well.
Soon we were back to the junction of Xinfu Road and Zengjia Alley. Looking up to the nicely lit Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel, we were very pleased we had chosen to stay at this hotel. The hotel rate was good, about the same rate we paid for the 3-star hotel in Bangkok but so much bigger and nicer. We were also very glad to stay inside the ancient town to begin our Chengdu tour proper.
Back to our room, it was time to make tea and enjoy supper with the bakery stuff we bought earlier. We used the tea leaves provided by the hotel. It cost CNY8 and the tea was strong but we like it. So it was time to relax to prepare for our outback experience in the high altitude mountains coming up the next day.
We had already arranged with the Guesthouse at Yun Xi Gu to send a driver to pick us up the next morning. It will take about four hours to reach Siguniang Mountains. The driver had called earlier and will fetch us from the main gate at 8.30 am the next day. We actually wanted him to pick us up at 7.30 am but he told me he would be picking up two other guests from Chengdu first before arriving here to get us. So we agreed and hoped to reach Singuniang Mountains early enough to explore one of the valleys in the afternoon.
Staying a night at Patra Boutique Hotel in Bangkok was very convenient for us to get to the airport. In addition, staying at Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel served our purpose to visit Dujiangyan ancient town. This was a great start indeed and so we went to bed with much anticipation for some alpine experience in a couple of hours time.
Continue to Day 3 …