Giving Buffet Breakfast A Miss
Back in Dujiangyan, our sleep was sweet. The freezing sleepless night over at Siguniang Mountain due to power failure was a thing of the past. Fully recharged, we were ready to head out to explore Dujiangyan attractions today.
We were told buffet breakfast was available as there were more guests staying in Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel this time. We saw quite a number of local tourists the previous day. So we went over to the small eating place at the back of the hotel. Some Chinese guests were already having breakfast.
The tables were a mess where guests had already vacated. The manager was busy clearing tables and sweeping the floor as well. We found a clean table and took our seats. After a quick survey at the small buffet spread, we decided to leave. The food available were catered to the local tourists and definitely not to our taste.
Back in our room, we made coffee and tea and enjoyed the bakery stuff we bought the night before. It was so much more palatable. After washing up and packing our stuff to make room for housekeeping to make our room later, we were ready to head out to Qing Cheng Shan.
Time to Explore Dujiangyan Attractions
Out on the street, the air was fresh. Along the way, we saw a couple in traditional costumes having photo shoot so early in the morning. Perhaps the couple wanted to take advantage of the quiet streets before the crowd arrived.
Walking along the lovely streets in the ancient town, we soon made it across the famous Blue Bridge. It was a hive of activities so early in the morning. So many visitors were already out here to enjoy the place.
In front of the bridge, a huge group of students were out on an excursion. They were posing for group pictures in front of the bridge. Teachers were giving out instructions and information to these kids who were apparently very happy to be out of school for the day. Of course, it was quite noisy here with the happy kids chirping away.
The entrance to the scenic park was crowded too. We didn’t expect so many visitors here eager to visit the park so early in the morning. Perhaps it was a Saturday and folks were off for work and could spend some leisure time here. We were still pondering whether to visit this attraction once we returned from Qing Cheng Shan as entrance fee was CNY 90 per person. Just to take some nice pictures inside the garden and on the suspension bridges might not seem quite justifiable.
Heading to Qing Cheng Shan
We then walked over to the bus stop and boarded a waiting bus number 101. It costs only CNY1, if I remembered correctly. Soon a few more passengers boarded the bus and the bus left the scenic area here in Dujiangyan. The bus travelled along and more passengers boarded the bus at different stops. The bus was soon full with standing passengers.
Constant announcements were made in Mandarin to care for the elderly and give seats to those in need as well as not to smoke, eat, litter and spit inside the bus. Unfortunately, such announcements fell on deaf ears. Some elderly passengers still spat in the bus, especially into the bin next to the exit. It will probably take a generation to correct such bad habits.
After 50 minutes, we reached the high speed train station and were told to alight if we wished to visit the rear of Qing Cheng Mountain. So we alighted. We were more interested to visit the scenic mountain in its natural setting of bridges and waterfalls rather than the front mountain for a more cultural experience visiting temples and other attractions.
Shuttle Bus to Rear of Qing Cheng Shan
Once we got off the bus, there were many minibuses parked at the carpark outside the high speed train station. Bus operators were shouting for those who wished to take the shuttle bus to the back of Qing Cheng Mountain to purchase tickets on the spot and board an awaiting bus. The cost for return tickets for the minibus ride was CNY25.
When the bus was full, we left the high speed train station. We travelled slightly up mountain passing residential area. About 30 minutes later, we arrived at the base of the back mountain of Qing Cheng Shan. The bus stopped outside a restaurant and everyone alighted. We were told to walk further back to the carpark where the minibus would be waiting when we return from our hike. The bus actually sent us a little further in nearer to the main entrance outside the restaurant for our convenience.
After getting off the bus, restaurant owners immediately approached passengers and urged us to have a meal before heading up to the mountain. Meals up on the mountain would certainly cost more. But it was barely 11 am and we were not hungry yet. So we decided to head up to the mountain first.
Car Ride to Cable Car Station
Before heading over to the ticketing counter to purchase tickets, we made a quick visit to the toilets. It was quite cold this morning. In fact, the grounds were a little wet after an overnight shower.
After purchasing the entrance tickets costing CNY20 and an insurance charge of CNY5, we were ready to head up the mountain. We also paid another CNY30 for a one way cable car ride up the mountain. Visiting the front mountain would cost more for entrance fee and cable car ride as well.
While walking at the open area, a young lady approached us. She suggested we dine at her family restaurant in a village up on the mountain. She would give us a ride to the base of the cable car station and then her dad would pick us up at the cable car station on top to send us to the village. Our intention was to walk as little as possible while visiting the mountain, so we took her offer.
We boarded a very nice SUV and the ride to the base of the cable car station wasn’t very long. Had we walked on our own, it will probably take us 15 minutes with nothing much to see down here. So we were quite glad. Another lady also shared the same ride with us who was the sister of the driver. She was heading up the mountain after doing marketing at the base of the mountain.
Cable Car Ride Up Qing Cheng Shan
The base of the cable car station was a local market area. Food, fruits and drinks were available here. We followed the driver’s sister and walked up a flight of stairs to the entrance of the cable car station. As a resident there, she travelled free. The cable car station wasn’t busy and there was no queue at all. There were just a few other passengers waiting ahead of us.
Soon we hopped onto a cable car and were on our way up the mountain. We sailed above green trees and some trees had turned golden brown during autumn. It was pretty cold too after the morning shower, probably rained through the night as well.
We saw narrow roads leading up the mountain. It would be difficult to drive up the mountain on such narrow roads. We were told there had been some minor landslides and some sections of the roads were blocked, hence this other lady had to take the cable car up the mountain as well.
Car Ride to Village
About 30 minutes later, we arrived the top of the cable car station. We followed the lady and boarded another SUV waiting outside the station. The driver was this lady’s dad. The grounds out here were pretty muddy after the rain. We walked gingerly not to dirty our shoes and bring in too much dirt into the car.
We left the station and headed up the mountain. Few minutes into the ride, we had to stop. Workers with heavy equipment were clearing fallen trees and mud slide that happened quite recently. It took a while before we could continue our journey. Not long after, we had to alight. But the village was no where in sight. Nevertheless, we were glad for the car ride. It won’t be very exciting to walk along the muddy stretch of road navigating through fallen trees to reach here.
We followed this young lady and walked up a long flight of stairs and other walking paths. Soon, we saw the village. The village seemed deserted. Perhaps we were still quite early. Passing this village, we walked further up and finally reached the restaurant owned by this lady’s family. Her mother greeted us and showed us to a table.
Lunch at Village Restaurant
We were given a menu and served green tea immediately. It wasn’t raining now and the air was very fresh with the lush greenery up here. It was quite a nice setting here although the furnishing of the restaurant wasn’t some modern chic café in the city. We placed our order and then sat back to enjoy the village ambiance up here at an altitude of about 1500 m.
Chickens and roosters were roaming freely and running under tables. They probably didn’t know they would soon end up on dining tables in a not too distant future. So enjoy the freedom while they may! Waiting in this cooling restaurant, our food soon arrived. The food was tasty but one of the dishes was a little spicy. It was local food in Sichuan after all so we had to adjust our taste buds here.
While having lunch, more guests turned up. Unfortunately, some lit up cigarettes much to our discomfort. So we ate quickly and paid up after meals. This simple lunch cost just around CNY100, not too expensive as initially thought. Before leaving the restaurant, we visited the toilets. They were rather primitive up here. Better don’t visit the toilets before meals. It won’t add value to the experience here.
Time to Descend Qing Cheng Shan
So we began our hike by walking down passing the village and headed to where we alighted earlier. This would be the path down the mountain. There is only one path down so we can’t possibly miss it. We were walking on clear paths but the grounds were wet and at some stretches very slippery. The cool climate here made the walk pretty enjoyable.
We walked through bridges, stairs and arched bridges with small streams flowing underneath. We also passed a make-shift rest area where food and drinks were sold. Foreign visitors probably won’t eat here out in the forest, at least as far as hygiene is concerned. However, cup noodles are available but hot water is probably boiled from the water obtain in the forest.
Injury During Downward Hike
We continued to enjoy our very pleasant walk down the mountain crossing more arched stone bridges amidst the lush greenery. The mountain up here was pretty deserted with few visitors. However, whenever we encountered visitors coming uphill, we had to slow our pace and even stop to give way at some places where the walking paths and bridges were narrow.
Unfortunately at one such places while giving way to a couple walking uphill passing us, my wife slipped and fell and sprained her ankle. From then on, the hike down the mountain was no longer the same. Enjoyment turned into distress.
My shoulder became the crutch for my wife to support her walk and we descended slowly. It was the same walking on many stone bridges and some stretches were indeed very beautiful. Small waterfalls were running along near the bridges and walking paths.
Difficult Descend After Accident
Water streams below us were crystal clear, very refreshing indeed. But our enjoyment was greatly diminished while we still tried to take nice pictures along the way. Some long stone bridges were actually very pretty but very slippery too after the overnight shower. So we took in the sights and enjoyed whatever we could during this slow downward descend.
After quite a long time, we passed an A shape bridge across a much wider stream below. Walking further down, we eventually reached a long wooden suspension bridge. Over here is somewhat the base of the mountain. Toilets are available here. This is actually another entrance up the mountain for those who wish to hike up the mountain instead of taking the cable car.
Car Ride to Minibus Waiting Point
While my wife went to the toilet, a man approached me and offered to give us a ride back to the high speed train station for a fee. I told him we had the return tickets for the minibus. He then suggested to send us to the carpark for CNY10 each.
Initially I thought the carpark was quite near. He told me it was still a few kilometers down the road. When my wife returned from the toilet visit, we decided to take his car instead of having to endure more walking straining my wife’s already sprained ankle.
The man then led us to his SUV parked nearby and then we descended the mountain. We passed through the ancient town with some shops and restaurants. Actually we saw this town on our way up to the cable car station earlier and had wanted to visit this place after the hike. But now it was no longer necessary. All we wanted was to return to Dujiangyan to rest and for my wife to nurse her sprained ankle.
Shuttle Bus Back to High Speed Train Station
Soon, we were brought back to the carpark where three minibuses were waiting. The operator ushered us up a departing minibus and we waited. We were quite glad for the car ride out here. Had we walked on our own, we would probably take another 45 minutes to reach the carpark.
Some more passengers boarded the bus. But when the time was up, the bus left and it was not full this time. It seemed they work on a given schedule. It was already 4.15 pm anyway and probably time for the operators to wind up their business for the day. So it was the same journey downhill and by the time we reached the high speed train station, it was already 4.50 pm.
Bus 101 Back to Dujiangyan
The scene out here was so different from the morning. The place looked so deserted with few souls in sight. So we waited at the bus stop. Few minutes later, bus 101 pulled up. We asked the driver whether the bus was returning to Dujiangyan or heading to the front of Qing Cheng Shan. The driver told us the bus was returning to the scenic park in Dujiangyan. We gladly boarded the bus that was quite empty.
It was time to rest during the ride back to town. Some passengers boarded the bus and alighted along the way. It was no longer the busy scene during the morning. The ride was pleasant and we were soon back to Dujiangyan. The ride back seemed to be faster during this off peak hour.
We then dragged our tired bodies and walked back into the ancient town crossing the famous Blue Bridge. Visiting the scenic park was no longer an option. The place here was so much quieter now. The boisterous scene during the morning seemed to be a distant memory.
Dinner at Oolong Tea Cafe
We were so familiar with the ancient town now walking back towards Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel was a breeze. Along the way, we stopped by at our favourite Oolong Tea café for an early dinner. The young lady serving us the day before was not there but the young chef was still working there and was happy to see us again. An older lady was manning the café this evening.
We placed our order and sat back to enjoy the comfort here and relax in this very chilling ambiance of the modern café. We really liked the deco here. Strangely the restaurant was empty again. Our bubble tea came first and then followed by our meals. The dinner was good. The food was so tasty and delicious.
While chatting with this lady manager, we found out she was the aunt of the younger lady that served us the previous day. The young chef was her son. They told her we would be back for dinner today and they were expecting us. So good thing we were back otherwise they would be disappointed.
After this wonderful dinner that somewhat took away our misery from the fall sustained by my wife earlier, we took a slow walk back to Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel. It was just a few minutes walk. Soon, we were back to our huge comfortable room. The room was nicely made too.
Shopping for Essentials in Ancient Town
It was time to shower and clean up after the day’s eventful hike on Qing Cheng Shan. After that, while my wife rested in the room, I went out to look for an ankle guard for my wife. I went to Miniso first. After browsing around, I left. I checked other shops, including sports shops in the ancient town but still couldn’t find this elusive ankle guard. While searching for the ankle guard, I ended up at the main gate so I returned to the very nice bakery Holiland to buy buns and pastries for supper and breakfast for the next day.
Finally, I went to Walmart with great expectation. I thought such common item should be readily available here but I was wrong. I walked through the supermarket two rounds and still couldn’t find the ankle guard.
But I managed to find the green tea my dad wanted. The tea leafs were packed in transparent cylindrical containers. At least I know how the tea leafs look like instead of those packed in box containers. So I bought a tube first and then returned to Chengdu Dujiangyan Nine Point Hotel.
Winding Down for the Night
So it was time to unwind and rest for the night. My wife had packed our luggage as we would be heading back to Chengdu first thing the next morning. Our highlight for the day was the hike on the rear of Qing Cheng Mountain. The mountain was nice and we really liked the natural settings of flowing streams and waterfalls. But my wife’s accidental slip marred the otherwise great outing.
Anyway, adventurous activities would come to an end. We still had four nights in Chengdu and another three more nights in Chongqing for this trip. We would be left with city attractions and of course shopping and dining. In particular, we were looking forward to our stay in Sofitel Hotels in Chengdu and Chongqing. So luxurious accommodations would be our next phase. We looked forward to some pampering from now onward.
After a nice supper over coffee and tea with the mouth watering pastries, we knocked off for the night. It was indeed a long and eventful day. More fun and of course panda visitation would come our way soon.
Continue to Day 6 …