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Chengde, Temples, the Great Wall and bad knees. :(

Chengde, China

-How hot is it there exactly? Sometimes hot, sometimes warm, but mostly stuffy. The weather fluctuates to generalize.

-Are there a lot of tourists there because of the Olympics? I've seen only a few (maybe a handful) but I'm in the more, uh, ghetto part of Beijing, so most of the tourists are in the "nicer" part, that is geared towards tourists.

-Is your dorm dirty too? Have you met any natives? Nope! my room is soo clean :) Fu wu ren 服務人 come to clean it everyday! I've met my tutor, who is a native.. but haven't really met too many natives.

-Are they friendly or are they like people in Chinatown? They're pretty friendly, but sometimes they're just frustrated cause they expect me to be able to speak Mandarin. But if you're white with blonde hair and blue eyes, I heard they'll be super friendly and want to take pictures with you.

This weekend I went to Chengde, some temples (Puning and some other one) and the Jinshanling Great Wall. We stayed at a really nice hotel for the first night, I say 'nice' because the next night, we stayed at some shanty-ass 'hotel' in Jinshanling where my bedsheets were yellow and covered with specks of mysterious green/black bug-like guts. The bathroom looked like someone died in it. I didn't shower that night because I was too scared and it seemed like other people's rooms sucked as well. (whine) I really wanted to shower too, I was so gross and sticky (end whine). Now you can gauge how scary it was.

For the first two days of the weekend, we went to the Chengde Summer Palace, rode an electric boat, walked a lot... went to the Puning temple and some other temple called 'Pu hua zhong cheng' something or other. Then we visited a Hebei Tourism Vocation College (where students train to become tour guides) but I didn't really know why we went there. All we did was talk to Chinese students and watch some tea ceremony demonstrating how to drink tea (but not actually drinking it) sadness.. way to tease. So maybe we were there because the tour guide company we were traveling with had employees who graduated from there?

Sunday, we woke up at 3 a.m. to climb the wall at 4 a.m. So I hiked on the wall for about 4-5 hours and covered 10.5 km (maybe 6 miles). My knees are still killing me. I ended up hiking with one other friend because I originally wasn't going to hike all the way, so I went really slow and took lots of breaks. But the wall was so treacherous that I did not want to climb back down after I worked so hard to get up the damned wall. Some parts of the Great Wall didn't really have walls, so you can just fall off the side. I was also obligated to buy things from random farmers traveling the wall to sell things because I was scared they would kill me. Serious. They didn't threaten me, but you never know... one push off the wall and you're gone. Anyway, I have many stories about the wall but I'll save those for real conversations.

Class starts again tomorrow and I also have a calligraphy class. Yay. :(

P.S. once again, excuse the weird fob pics of me by myself. I feel so awkward in those pics.

permalink written by  jlu on July 13, 2008 from Chengde, China
from the travel blog: Study Abroad in China
tagged GreatWall, Temples and Chengdu

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Nine-village Valley

Chengdu, China

Jiuzhaigou is a narrow strip of lowland, four hundred kilometers long, in the Minshan Mountain Range in Nanping County, northeast Sichuan. It got its name because there are nine Tibetan villages in the valley. As it is a remote place with unusually charming scenery and few inhabitants, it is often called the "wonderland on Earth." The valley, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, is covered with luxuriant primitive forests and dotted by more than a hundred lakes and ponds of various sizes. At the bottom of the clear blue lakes, stones and waterweeds twinkle in the sun, producing a rainbow of colors. As the valley is of a terraced topography, waterfalls are created between lakes on different levels, the biggest drop being over twenty meters. The roaring sound of the falls echoes through the valley.

The valley is home to a great variety of plants and rare animals, such as the giant panda, lesser panda, Golden monkey, and antelope.

To develop tourism here, China plans to build a hotel with 50 beds, a restaurant, and other facilities. The valley will be divided into five scenic areas along a 54-kilometer route with five tourist service centers. The highway will be widened, and an airport will be built.

permalink written by  beijing2008 on August 12, 2008 from Chengdu, China
from the travel blog: Australia
tagged China, Chengdu, Sichuan and Jiuzhaigou

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