Thursday, May 12, 2005

Coming up next: Wuxu Hai (伍须海)

Wuxu Hai, originally uploaded by jiulong.

In the next week or two I will post some pictures of the beautiful Wuxu Hai [lake] near Jiulong (九龙)in Sichuan province. Joseph Rock passed this way on his journey from Lijiang to Minya Konka. Surprisingly he made no mention of the lake itself in his account of the trip.

I went there last year on my way to Muti Konka. It's becoming the new Jiuzhaigou - go there before the hordes discover this little gem.

The main attraction of Jiulong is the Wuxu Lake, about 25km north west of town along a dirt track. This can be reached in about 90 minutes by car or jeep, which can be hired outside the Longhai Dajiudian for 100 kuai one way/200 return, if you want to be picked up again next day. There is no bus service.

The road to Wuxu Hai follows a narrow forested river valley past limestone crags up to the picturesque village of Wuxu, where there are some tourists cabins being built (not operating yet in Oct 2004). From here it continues up to a few newly built tourist log cabins right at the lake. The last 5km is quite rough road and some car drivers may dump you at the village and tell you to walk the last bit. It’s a nice walk, passing a huge rock covered with colourful Buddhist deity paintings that locals circle round.

Wuxu Lake is an idyllic scenic spot, flanked to the south by a long range of grey peaks called the 12 Sisters, and with an expanse of paddock leading down to the [as yet] unspoiled waters edge. On the opposite side of the lake (reached by a track on the eastern – ie right hand side of the lake) the valley continues up to be lost in the snowy peaks of 18-20,000 foot high mountains. It’s all very Shangri La.

You can stay at the lake in some log cabins just built for tourists, starting for 20 kuai for a primitive dorm (just one big bed!) to 40-60 kuai for doubles. All blankets etc are supplied, but you could bring a tent if you wanted – it would be perfect for camping and trekking here. The log cabins also have a dining hall where you can get good meals such as beef, lamb etc for 25-30 kuai. Beer is also available, as witnessed by the huge pile of empties formed into a pyramid outside the kitchen shack. There is no shop so take everything else you might need.

The “resort” is run by Jiulong local government, and they are trying to be eco-friendly and use natural, local materials. They have installed a lot of bins in the form of hollow tree stumps, but the first Chinese visitors seemed to be ignoring these.

The guy who runs the cabins is a Yi and his hardworking wife is very friendly, despite having to cope with a son who is both blind and crippled.

The Tibetan locals will nag you relentlessly to “Qi ma” - ride their horses . They do rides up to a waterfall about 30 minutes on from the other side of the lake, and beyond to hot springs where you have to build the pool around yourself with boulders from the creek. You don’t need to ride a horse – you can find your own way quite easily by just locating the well trodden tack that bears off from the middle of the forest. The locals will charge you about 50 to ride up there on horses.

It is also possible to walk/ride up the surrounding forested hills to various lookout points, popular with professional photographers, with great views over the lake and mountains. These tracks are hard to find unless a local shows you.

There is also said to be a beautiful lake, “Tian Chi” (天池) that is sacred to the locals, about six to seven hours ride up the valley into the mountains on the opposite side of the lake. I didn’t go there, because you need to camp overnight and take all your own gear.

Word of warning: there are some Tibetan’s log cabins on the other side of the lake, where the canny locals invite you in for a cup of butter tea made with milk fresh from the yak. It’s fascinating if you’ve never been inside a Tibetan house before, to sit around the fire. But the friendliness can come at a price – of 10 kuai per cup! Ask first “Shou qian ma?” (Do you want money?).

You can arrange for a car to come and pick you up, or if you are fit it’s possible to walk back to town in about four-five hours. Quite a few day visitors leave around 4pm, so you may be able to hitch a lift – but don’t bank on it!

Here are some "postcard" samples of excellent Wuxu Hai pics posted by 徐作军 at the xitek website:

Wuxu Hai near Jiulong







1 comment:

mutikonka said...

Why does nobody ever leave any comments? Is this comment system not working? The world's first bloody pictures of this area and nobody gives a toss! Maybe I should start blogging about sex and shopping.