Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 2 Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulongxueshan)

21 October 2014

I had wanted to go straight to the bus station to take a bus to Lugu Lake on arrival from Kunming this morning. However, when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. in the overnight train, I still had not eaten a proper meal, had not drunk sufficient water and had not been to the wash room to do my big business since the morning before. I got a little worried with my lack of water intake and was thinking that should I take lots of water, I would have problem on the way to Lugu Lake.

Against this scenario, I decided to stay for a night in Lijiang before going to Lugu Lake the following morning. This would also give me time to find out which bus station to depart to Lugu Lake.

The train arrived at 6:05 a.m. It was still dark but at the train station, the touts were at work already. There was only one taxi and almost all the train passengers were lingering around, with some talking to the touts or van drivers.

At the edge of the parking lot, I decided to ask a driver whether he was going to Old Lijiang. He said yes and pointed me to a van which was filling up. I took my seat and soon, another two passengers joined us. The fare was CNY25.

I was dropped off at an old city gate. There were two hawkers selling breakfast. It was still very dark and I knew no hostel had opened yet, so I took my time taking breakfast at one of the stalls.


After breakfast, I walked into tn I decided to set my destination to Sifanjie on my Garmin eTrex 20. It was more than a kilometer away. I was hoping to stay at a hostel close by.

When I reached there, I didn't see any hostel nearby. So, I strolled along a random street and during that time, I decided to look for a hostel with English speaking staff, to make my stay more comfortable. It was there and then that I decided to set my destination to Mama Naxi Guest House. I arrived there at about 7:30 a.m. I asked for a single room and it was available. The rate was CNY100 with CNY100 deposit.

After taking my bath and organising my wallet and luggage, I thought of going to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Xue Shan). As I stepped away from the staircase, a big poster greeted me, with instructions on how to go to the mountain.

Click to enlarge
I asked the receptionist, a lady, on how to get to Hongtaiyang Yangchang (Red Sun Square) to catch the no. 7 van. She was very helpful, and drew me the direction on a map. With the aid of my Garmin eTrex, I walked there without much problem but I had to wait for almost 50 minutes before the van left, after being filled with enough passengers.


At the entrance to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, we had to dig out CNY105 for the entrance fee and CNY20 for the bus ride. Then, we continued to the Glacier Park ticket office to buy the
cable car ticket. There, I rented a coat for CNY50 with CNY500 deposit. The queue was so long that it took me one hour and 8 minutes just to get into the bus to go to the cable car station. There were insufficient buses in service, unlike Jiuzhaigou.

I didn't buy any oxygen cyclinder. As I stepped out of the cable car, my head felt a little light and dizzy although my breathing was normal. As I climbed the staircase to the top viewing platform, the physical exertion caused me to be out of breath quickly and I had to stop and breath heavily with my mouth every 20 steps or so. It was really wonderful to experience and see real snow.

While going to Glacier Park went smoothly, returning to Glacier Park ticket office did not go smoothly. There were no buses going to the Glacier Park ticket office. Buses were going to Yak Meadow/ Cloud Fir Meadow or Blue Moon Lake/ Spruce Meadow. Remembering that the waiting area to go to Blue Moon Lake was also the Glacier Park ticket office, I took the bus to Blue Moon Lake/ Spruce Meadow. Instead of stopping at Blue Moon Lake, it passed by and went straight to Spruce Meadow cable car station. I was not interested in the place and walked to Blue Moon Lake, and from there, taking the bus to the parking lot at the Glacier Park ticket office.

I got off at the parking lot and as I walked towards what I thought was the Glacier Park ticket office, I realised that I got off at the wrong parking lot. Oh uh! I realised I was going to lose my CNY500 deposit if I did not return the jacket. How do I ask in Chinese where the correct station was? A thought came and I pulled out the coat rental receipt and I asked a van driver/ coat rental girl and they said I could walk there, while pointing the direction to me.

I arrived at another parking lot a short distant away and pulling out the receipt again, I asked some people there. They have no idea. A van driver told me which I understood vaguely that I could pay him CNY50 or lose CNY500 deposit. I was at his mercy. A helpful passenger in a van told him I could pay CNY20 and the driver replied, "CNY30". A girl interjected and said CNY20 and the helpful passenger asked me to follow the girl. However, it was still the same driver who took me there, saying CNY30 but I insisted on CNY20. It was just a short distant away, reachable on foot, but I paid him anyway.

It was a relief, after having got back my CNY500 deposit. At that hour, there were not many vans parked there. I searched for a no. 7 bus in front of the office. There was none. I walked a short distant away and saw an elderly man. I asked him about no. 7 bus to Lijiang. He pointed to his van but I said it was not written no. 7, but 8 printed on the door (actually, it meant 8 passengers, silly me). He said it was no. 7 and he pulled out the no. "7" and put it on the windshield. It was 4:25 p.m. already. He asked me whether I was in a hurry and I answered no. However, buses arrived and go and he was not able to pull in any passengers. In the end, I abandoned him and joined another van to return to Lijiang. If I had to wait for his van to fill up, it would take too long. Worse, I might be at his mercy in the end when there were no more vans left. By that time, he could just tell me to hire the van, take it or leave it.

[Thinking back, I wondered why I never thought of using my Garmin eTrex to check my location or to use it to guide me back to the Glacier Park ticket office/ coat rental office]