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A Piece of Heaven on Earth
Jiuzhaigou Valley

11 February 2006
 

On the second day of the Chinese Year of Dog, five families, from Beijing, Shandong, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Sichuan respectively, congregated at a Chengdu hotel in Sichuan Province. Despite it was 6:30 pm in the deep of winter, the sky was still bright and the setting sun gently greeted us with its soft glow. It was quite unusual though, since the sun in this city is reputed, arguably, the laziest in the whole China. We felt greatly encouraged by our first encounter with this part of the world and looked forward to having wonderful experiences at Jiuzhaigou.

We set off at nine the next morning, driving along the Min River. Once entering the Wenchuan mountain road, we noted that the river narrowed dramatically and the flow speeded up, while traffic became much lighter.

We took a short break every couple of hours. The sun in the wild is brilliant and warm, and the winds fair and brisk - spring clearly drew near. Each break also brought us one step closer to the heaven, to the sun, where the clouds became sparser and flimsier, and the skies bluer.

After a simple lunch at a family tavern by the roadside, before long we spotted our destination at the end of Songpan Grassland: Jiuzhaigou, Valley with Nine Villages.

Located 450 km from Chengdu City, Jiuzhaigou stretches over 72,000 ha in the northern part of Sichuan Province, with integration of snowy mountains, green valleys, multi-layered waterfalls and 118 lakes inlaid among the hills and cliffs, while its highest peak reaches 4,800 metre above the sea level.

Though stunningly beautiful, this piece of Heaven on earth was largely unknown by the outside world, laying asleep undisturbed for millions of years, until a group of foresters discovered it by accident in 1970s.

Water - Jiuzhaigou's Spirit

To Jiuzhai Gou, water is the very essence and true spirit, and it is renowned for its crystal clearness, pure transparency and rich colourfulness.

 

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The melted snow from the hill peaks and the mountain streams in the valleys all find their way into the Lakes. The waters, however, never spill over the banks even in the downpour seasons of summer and autumn, nor they dry up during drought spells in winter.

Arrow Bamboo Lake

In the banks, lush bamboos are forever green and stand erect, and their swaying images reflected in the water with the inverted images of undulating hills as their backdrop.

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Five-Flower Lake

It is over 3,000 m above the sea level, with a maximum depth of more than 100m.

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Due to different depths and silts on the bottom, the water in the lake assumes a variety of colours, from light yellow, dark green, deep blue to jadeite. When bright sunlight shines upon its indigo surface, it looks incredibly daring, enchanting and radiant like a freshly finished watercolour painting.

Panda Lake Cascade

It consists of three separate streams rushing down a precipice, forming waterfalls with multiple sections of 65 meters in total height.

 

In winter the waterfalls freeze into a spectacle of icy sculpture.

When spring arrives, Jiuzhaigou is adorned with wild blossoms and the air heavy with the aroma. Entering summer, the colour of lush green takes over as trees are luxuriantly verdant. By the time the leaves turn crimson, light breezes spread the intoxicating fragrance of wild fruits. When winter finally descends, it creates a silver world by draping the mountains and valleys in pure snow and ice.

Such is the rich beauty of Jiuzhaigou Valley, the themes of four seasons in the wonderland.

 
 
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