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A Day in "Fairy Land"

Just the Three of Us (and a billion Chinese)

sunny 20 °C

And so we found ourselves first in line for tickets at JG. The office was scheduled to open at 7am, and there were four neatly marked lines for tickets. This being China, we weren’t actually expecting the Chinese to line up, so we each took up position at one desk. The funny thing was that when the Chinese starting to arrive, they did line up – neatly – behind us. True – Lloyd had to put one Chinese lady back in line, but she got the hang of it and was soon reprimanding another Chinese lady for trying to cut in front. We haven’t seen that before – anywhere – despite some blatant and aggressive line-cutting behaviour.

At 6.56 am, a line of navy-and-white uniformed ladies marched into the building and took up their positions. We felt sure that the one line we hadn’t been able to head up would be served first, so we were surprised when we were able to buy our tickets first. The second we had done so, the very neat lines that had formed behind us collapsed as fifty Chinese pushed forward to try and improve their position. Using full body weight, we squeezed our way out of the throng and – after a few more formalities – found ourselves on one of the first buses going into the park at 7.10 am. We were headed to the top of the right arm of the Y, which allegedly offered the most scenic parts of the park. The very windy, half-hour ride offered our first glimpses of clear – and I mean clear-like-you’ve-never-seen – water, and idyllic mountainous terrain. Our plan was to take the bus as far as it went, and then hike back as far as either the day or our legs would allow.

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Early Morning Mist; For Lloyd, JG was reminiscent of the Alps

And hike we did. We’re not quite sure how far we walked – we think at least ten miles - during our 7 hour day. For the first several hours, we had the trail practically to ourselves. Turns out that the majority of the visitors to the park choose to ride the bus to each stop, and only walk around the most famous scenic spots if it’s not too far! After three hours or so, we started to see the swarms of Chinese ahead. In the distance, they looked like colorful ants with tiny umbrellas scuttering up the path to take their photo from the designated viewpoint, before finding the shortest possible route back to the bus.

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Water so clear you could see fallen trees in the bottoms of the lakes; the Blues and Greens were simply spectacular!

While the natural beauty of JG could not fail but impress (as you can see above), the scene at several of these viewpoints was not pretty. Groups practically glued together moved through like molasses, taking snapshots of everything in their path (including me on several occasions). The Chinese don’t really shout – but that’s only because their voices are so loud they don’t need to. It was only at the very largest waterfalls that nature succeeded in drowning them out. But the worst thing of all? The loud, hocking sound as some Chinese men internally scrape their throats and prepare to spit. In public. Anywhere. Vulgar.

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Lloyd Smiles in the Midst of Madness (Top Left!)

So, while our pictures may look impressive, you should understand that many of them were taken in the most un-natural of circumstances. Happily, the Chinese groups (and to be fair, most of the ‘bad’ behaviour we have seen has been restricted to groups), do have very short attention spans and move through quickly, so a little patience was often all that was needed to capture JG sans-Chinese. We wondered what the Tibetan villagers thought of the Chinese visitors. And while the park has been very well put together, we regretted that the ‘traditional’ Tibetan villages have been turned into quaint tourist attractions to appeal to the Chinese audience. JG literally means valley of nine villages, but – unfortunately – not the villages that are here today. The Tibetans are subsidized by the Chinese government and not permitted to farm. Their job is simply to ‘act Tibetan’ so that the Chinese can get closer to the curiosity that is Tibet.

Anyway, I digress. We did make it back to the centre of the three pronged Y by mid-afternoon and, probably more exhausted by battling groups than by the walking, we decided to call it a day. We bussed out of the park, and checked into our distinctly cleaner hotel and a well-earned night's sleep. Not quite sure I'll be dreaming of fairies tonight, but there's no doubt that JG's spectacular waterfalls will be with me for a long, long time...

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Posted by jacquiedro 05:26 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world

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