The nature preserve of Jiuzhaigou is a lovely alpine valley situated in northern Sichuan between the altitudes of 2,500 to more than 3,000 metres. Within hours of arrival in Jiuzhaigou (via a 45-minute domestic flight from Chengdu), I had bouts of nausea, a splitting headache, slight breathing difficulties and by nightfall of my first day in this valley, I had thrown up all contents in stomach - my very first encounter with altitude sickness! Luckily, Jiu Zhai Paradise Hotel had in-house medical consultation, and with medication, an 'oxygen pillow' (a huge inflatable plastic pillow filled with oxygen with a breathing valve and hose attached) and a good night's rest, I recovered the next morning and didn't have to miss out on any of the sights nor the hiking. Unfortunately, I will never live down the embarassment nor will my tour-mates and friends ever forget the sight of pale me sucking oxygen like an addict! Sigh :(
Never mind - methinks the gorgeous sceneries were worth all that discomfort and more!
Jiuzhaigou (the name is derived from the nine Tibetan villages scattered throughout the valley) is incredibly blessed with dazzling emerald and turquoise colored lakes, and with their still clear reflections, the mirror images can sometimes trick the eye - is that a bird swimming in the water and are those fishes flying among the trees?
With bare ghostly tree trunks lying in the lakes, one's attention is torn between the beautiful forest landscape above and the dreamy contemplative one in the lake!
The contrasts in this valley are quite awesome as one treks along its various hiking trails. One is confronted by powerful gushing waterfalls, like the Nuorilang pubu or waterfall shown above, but as you trek further and turn the corner, you suddenly come face to face with quiet rippling brooks.