Continued from here.
A little way further and he stopped for us to have a cultural experience of the local lifestyle. There were tents with various experiences.
As part of it, we got to try out
- some archery
- horse riding – for just a couple of minutes 😐
- the local costumes with oversized sleeves that we managed to have fun with
- some swings – we realised the Chinese crowd used swings very gently vs us who wanted to go as high as possible!
- The local food for dinner- This was a hotpot with meat and vegetables.
- Meat: Yak meat, Lamb
- Vegetarian: Pumpkin, Mushrooms, Fungi, several types of Tofu, the local bread
- They even got a dish for Anand with eggs knowing he could eat them!
- Drinks: The local tea and wine
The group of girls who travelled with us even got into an impromptu karaoke with beautiful voices that we enjoyed listening to while munching on our food amidst the scenic view.
Early the next morning we had a modest breakfast and were off to Huanglong.My second visit and Anand’s first. The bus driver graciously stopped at a flower covered hillside for us to take pictures in the pretty landscape.
After lunch and passing by hills covered with conifers and taking winding roads that reminded us of Uttarakhand, we got to Huanglong.
It is located at the foot of the Yucui peak. Apparently, its name is derived from “yellow dragon” because that’s what it looks like from the air winding through the valleys and hills.
The Huanglong Natural Scenic Reserve is full of ponds and streams flowing over calcareous rock deposited from mineral springs. We took a cable car up and decided to walk back down. The cable car takes us right over a sea of conifers to the other side.
The first point you’d reach is the Wanglong (Looking dragon) platform. Since it was summer, our view was of the green mountains and verdant forests around the main valley with just the most distant mountain still snow capped.
Our walk downhill is dotted with bunches of yellow flowers, the occasional group of huge mushrooms and streams at every turn.
The very first point of wonder you’d reach after a bit of a hike is the 5 colour pond. It is a group of 693 open-air calcified colourful ponds with crystal clear water. It has areas of green, blue, red and even purple. This is arguably the most scenic spot in Huanglong- with a temple in the background providing a fairy-tale like setting to the scene.
White azaleas were a common sight on our walk and Huanglong is home to as many as 17 varieties of them. Since they bloom in summer, they are quite poetically referred to as the “snow in June”. The sound of water rushing is something that accompanied us throughout our hike here.
After just a little more walking you’d reach the Huanglong Ancient temple and still further yet another temple.
Up next would be the Suoluo Yincai (Azalea) pond. We were slightly late for the Azalea cover but nevertheless, it is yet another group of 400 colourful ponds with the blue water in the creamy catchment areas that are so soothing to the eyes making up yet another scene we were hesitant to leave behind.
The Penjing or Bonsai pond is another group of ponds with trees that all naturally seem stunted and therefore the name Bonsai pond.
Jinsha Pudi (Golden Sand Pavement) is appropriately named too.
The creamy underside of the water body has tiny waves rippling over, the stream further rolls over into a small waterfall called the Lintai Feipu “Flying waterfall on Lotus platform”.
The Liehui Feipu (Marvellous Flying waterfall) is the last and the widest of the waterfalls we saw in Huanglong. It didn’t have it’s full strength since the rains had only begun there but still made a pretty sight.
Tip : Do not run. Many people have altitude sickness that may lead to nausea, headaches etc. Breathe deeply and walk slowly. While walking down the steps, make sure you walk sideways to avoid strain on your knees. You’ll look funny but your knees will be grateful. Restrooms are available every few minutes – stay well hydrated.
The way to the hotel for the night continued to be picturesque with homes and castle-like structures resolutely perched on hillsides, ponds, horses, beautiful skies.
Before returning to the hotel we stopped by a Tibetan settlement. These are a standard fixture in group tours to Huanglong- though each can be slightly different. After being welcomed with the customary bright yellow scarf, we entered a hall with seating and a long table with some local food.
Vegetarian : Boiled potato, Local bread, buckwheat
Drinks : Yak milk tea, Local wine
Meat : Yak meat
A pretty lady amongst the troupe happily flirted with Anand who was the only guy in a room full of women as guests, asking him if he’d make her his second wife in exchange for 300 yaks.After some thought, he refused! Ah well.
Nevertheless, they sang beautifully for us and danced energetically even getting us to dance along with them.
We had a splendid time and walked back to the bus after picking a bag full of luscious cherries to munch on. After dinner, we watched a hilarious Chinese movie back in the hotel room called “Lost in Thailand” and it led us to end the wondrous day as perfectly as one ever can- with a bucket-load of laughter.
Up next : China : Jiuzhaigou : of brilliant blues and walking shoes