At first I was just tagging along to what felt like someone else’s vacation. Then, I eventually settled into the idea this could also be my vacation. Wait, but I’m perpetually on vacation! Anyway, it’ll be Stephane, Linxi, her mom, and I going to a National Park in the beautiful western part of Sichuan, which has a heavy immigrant influence.
The ride there takes five hours through mountains. At one point, the driver stops to put chains on the tires so we don’t slide away into oblivion. We finally arrive and it’s nowhere near as cold as I thought it would be. In fact, it’s the warmest place I’ve been in awhile. We go to a hotel to sleep for the night and get ready for a full day of hiking tomorrow.
At about 8:30, we enter the Park right right after it opens and follow Stephane’s advice to take the bus all the way to the back of the Park to avoid the other tourists and then work our way back to the front. I’m glad he did some research, I would’ve just pointed in a direction and said uhh let’s go there.
Unfortunately his research didn’t say that a whole bus of Chinese tourists would have the same idea. We get off and in a slight panic, get ready to get the hell away from this giant crowd. Stephane and I agree we should walk fast to the absolute back of the path ahead of people to get some air.
The path is blocked off for winter… Now we have to make our way back to where we just got off, through the crowd on a narrow wooden plank that borders on just the edge of the nature. It would be preposterous if we actually had many paths that led us on the dirt and gave us some options.
Signs everywhere say don’t leave the wooden walkway. I feel like I’m in an amusement park, not a National Park. I had the idea that we would be able to just walk off on random paths and enjoy the landscape on our own. Not in China. Apparently most of the National Parks are this same way.
After about an hour of walking a little bit, we take the bus down one stop, and then repeat the same thing through the crowd of Chinese tourists, selfieing every possible place they can manage to scour. This is no fun and is really ruining this whole trip. Here are a few pictures I managed to get of the chaos. The second one you might have to look closely to see the bridge in the distance.
It seems like people just come here to squeeze themselves through the crowd up to the front where they can take a selfie making it look like they’re in the middle of nature, instead of actually going there themselves. I guess if all 1.4 billion of them wanted to do that, no one who have a national park to spare.
The crowds get even worse around lunch time, so we are determined to leave the path to find somewhere nice to sit and eat. Everywhere we explore has snow on the ground, so we keep walking until we get to the end of one of the paths. It’s fenced off, but we crouch and push our ways through a bushy area and back on the other side of the fence.
From there we walk down the path and stop at a bench next to the river to eat lunch, completely along. Aahhhh, it feels amazing to be off with nature again. I think if they made national parks like this in China people would be flocking from all over just to get this breath of fresh air. I don’t know though, it seems like their culture might not enjoy that, or else I’d expect to see a few other places made for that.
After lunch, we continue to walk down the path and see nothing but nature all around us. We’re still on a wood plank path, but I’ll settle for that as long as we can keep the Chinese tourists away. The timing of the seasons is really interesting because it’s not cold, but some areas don’t see much sun, so part of the time were walking through a few inches of snow and then the rest of the time we’re walking through what looks more like the dry and bare hills of Southern California.
We walk back most of the 3km and then I decide to head out early with Linxi and her mom. They’re tired and my empty stomach is making it hard to enjoy the rest of the walk.
That was certainly an interesting introduction to the Chinese National ark. I have to say, it’ll probably be my last one. I think we got really lucky being on our own. It’s not worth the ridiculously high prices to see amusement park nature.