Day 5 (26 October 2012)
Today, I would be going to Huanglongxi Ancient Town. I read that many Chinese period movies were made here.
Today also, I needed to buy my ticket to Jiuzhaigou. I have been waking up before 6:00 a.m. almost everyday since returning from PNG. However, I overslept and woke up at about 6:20 a.m. today. After a hurried shower and a toilet visit, I went to Xinnanmen Bus Station to buy my Jiuzhaigou ticket. I spoke to the ticketing clerk in English saying that I would like to go to Jiuzhaigou on 29 October 2012. She replied saying that the ticket was sold out for today. I had to repeat that it was for 29 October 2012, in Chinese.
After getting the Jiuzhaigou ticket for RMB147, I went for my breakfast. Two baskets of dumpling cost me RMB10 only. It was the best dumpling I have tried so far, better that those in Guilin/ Yangshuo or PNG. Then, it was back to Xinnanmen for my Huanglongxi ticket. For the benefit of readers, visitors can queue up at any counter for the bus tickets to any destinations. A staff of Traffic Inn informed me about this after I inquired with her about purchasing the bus ticket to Jiuzhaigou.
The bus ticket to Huanglongxi was RMB14. The ticketing clerk said the next available departure time was 8:30 a.m., which was fine for me as it was only a 30 minute wait for me. There was in fact no 8:30 a.m. departure displayed on the LED display board, and this indicated how unreliable public transportation information could be in Chengdu.
I digress. Finally, it was time for boarding. It took an hour to reach Huanglongxi bus station. Again, I followed the crowd to the entrance of the ancient town, which was ten minutes' walk away at normal pace. If you are in a situation where there is no crowd to follow, turn right upon exiting the bus station gate. Walk straight, cross a T-junction and continue walking until you see a small doorway entrance. That would be the entrance to Huanglongxi.
Huanglongxi, though billed as an ancient town looked too modern. All traces of antiquity are lost, except for a few artifacts in the artificial stream in the middle of the street. It looks and feels more modern than "ancient". It was a disappointment, though it is quite beautiful. Huangyao in Guangxi exults a rustic charm, with no renovation done to old buildings, but not Huanglongxi. It was too commercialised like West Street in Yangshuo.
I returned to Xinnanmen Bus Station at about 11:30 a.m. This time, the fare was only RMB10 in a public bus. It was during this bus journey back when I found that my Garmin had stopped working. What bad luck! The bus did not stop at Xinnanmen Bus Station but at the last bus stop across the road from Xinnanmen Bus Station. The passengers were told to alight there.