Songpan, Chengdu and Xi'An

Oy. Once again a long time since I wrote anything. And this time I don't really have the time to write that much, so I'll probably just write a short notice of what I'm doing and what happened the last couple of days.

Songpan and horseback riding was great! I started my birthday with a real birthday cake which I bought in the bakery and then it was picked up in the morning by Emma, the owner of Emma's Kitchen which was the restaurant I ate in a few times. She was sooo friendly and spoke great English. They would even sing for me in the morning, that was awesome!

After having the birthday breakfast I was off to do the horseback trekking. The group turned out to be me, two Chinese guys and two Chinese girls and then of course the five Chinese guides. A good chance to practice some Mandarin! :) We all got our horses, they turned out to be kind of small horses which was good. And the saddle wasn't really like a normal saddle - we used normal saddles but on top of them were a lot of blankets and sleeping bags and stuff we would need for the night - so in the end the "seat" was really comfortable. People told me that I would be really sore after two days of riding, but it turned out that the horses was only slightly more bumpy than the local buses and the seats was much more soft! No worries at all!

The riding experience was perhaps not great - we mostly were riding slowly in walking speed because the path would be so steep. That wasn't a problem though - the views were sooo amazing that you really didn't have time to think about the riding. Songpan is a town on approximately 2700 meters altitude and from there we went straight up to 3500 meter. That is a great climb and even sitting on a horse I got tired. When we had to walk for more than an hour to get down the tricky parts where the horses couldn't carry us, I got really tired. Anyway, the mountain views were just fantastic. It can't really be described and all the pictures in the world can't really capture the greatness of being on a mountain top in an area looking like Grand Canyon, looking out over the mountain tops, the city in a valley far below and in the distance huge snow covered mountain peaks - everything under a clear blue sky and a shining sun! Look at the pictures to get a feeling of what I saw and then go there to see it for yourselves - a place like that has to be experienced!

Around lunch time we got to the place where we would spend the night - a small cottage close to an area with beautiful lakes. The name of the area was something like Erdao-something, which meant Two Line Lakes or something. The area was bascially a really nice forest area with beautiful lakes. Unfortunately the lakes were not really filled with much water, but it was still beautiful - especially with all the snow still on the ground and everything. We had a great snowball fight through most of our walk around the area which made us all very tired.

The night we spent on the floor of a small house without heating, but with all the cloth on, a sleeping bag and two blankets it wasn't that cold actually. After sleeping a lot that night and having a great breakfast I felt really good again - the first day was kind of rough with the altitude, the cold and too little sleep the last couple of nights. The second day took us back by horseback to Songpan again. It was a different route so there were loads of new sights, nice villages and more mountains. The weather wasn't as good though - a bit overcast, windy and cold. But it wasn't that bad - all in all it was a nice day as well. In the afternoon the sun came back and we had to take off hats, gloves, jackets and so on.

When we got back to the town it was only 1 pm or so, so we decided to go for another adventure - we hired a car with a driver to take us to a nice mountain one hour away. I'm really happy I followed the Chinese group going there, it was sooo beautiful. The mountain was about 4200 meters above sea level, so here you could really feel the air becoming thin and it being harder to do anything. We stopped on the way to watch the view - it was just amazing. It felt like being on the top of the world - especially with clouds blowing past under you! Look at the photos - hard to capture but truly wonderful experience!

On the mountain we made an 8 km trek - 4 km up to the five-colored pool and some temples, and then back down again. Going up took us like 2-3 hours and we had to stop quite often to catch our breath and then even more often to take photos. There were loads to see - frozen lakes, waterfalls, mountain views, temples etc. Look at the pictures I've uploaded (Songpan has a album of its own btw).

We barely made it down from the mountain to the waiting car before nightfall, it was already starting to get dark when we got down. It was cold, it was snowing and the driver was afraid of driving. He didn't know how to handle snow and his car in that weather so I had to show him some tricks from Sweden (like how to get rid of fog on the windscreen), but he still only kept a speed of 20-30 km/h. It took us more than three hours to get home... :)

Friday I spent on the bus back to Chengdu, then let myself into Eoin and Megans apartment and waited for them to get back from work. From there we went for a nice dinner with Helen and then went back and watched some movies. I got to see Happy Feet again - yey! :) Saturday was St Patricks Day, so it of course had to be celebrated. First we played rugby for a couple of hours with a lot of expats and other Westerners in Chengdu, that was great! Had a really good time and got to meet a lot of interesting people living in Chengdu. After the rugby we went for a good massage and then chilled in their apartment before it was time to go partying at Shamrock Bar, watch some rugby on tv and play some pool. All in all it turned out to be a really nice party evening.

On Sunday me and Helen took the plane to Xi'An (flying was the only option - train tickets were sold out...). Helen had been thinking about going to Xi'An for a while, so we decided to go together. It's great - I have a private guide now that actually speaks the language (and of course great English). So now we're in Xi'An. We found a great youth hostel out of accident. We were looking for another one mentioned in the guidebook, but we stumbled upon this one instead. It's awesome! It's newly built (they haven't officially opened it yet - one week left), it's built in a traditional old style and has like small bonsai trees and everything. And best of all - a free pool table! It's cheap, it's close to all the great sights in central Xi'An and it's just around the corner from the bar street. Awesome! And yes, of course, we thought the double room was a bit expensive so we went for the dormitory instead, but the reception promised us to let us have those four beds for ourselves for three nights. Strange, but very nice of them! :)

Anyways, gotta go now, tomorrow it's terracotta warriors and other sights in Xi'An and from there we'll see what we'll do. The plan is to stay here until Wednesday and then take the bus to Shanghai.

Inga kommentarer: