2010 - Backpacking to Tibet > Part 1

Backpacking Adventure
30 days to Sichuan, Yunnan, Tibet, China
20 Mar <> 18 Apr 2010

(L-R) Chew Siang Peng, Chew Leng Soon, Chan Meng Fai, Cindy Chong, See Beow Aun, Bernard Lee, Lily Yap, Sharon Tan, Ching Neng Bin, Choo Chiew Chin, Lim Kee Moon, Jayne Aw at JiuZhaiGou National Park

The route for part 1: K.L > Chengdu > Leshan Grand Buddha > Chengdu > JiuZhaiGou > JiuZhaiGou National Park > Songpan > Huanglong Valley > Chengdu

Day 01 (20.03.10) Kuala Lumpur > Chengdu

Ni Hao! Greetings from Chengdu. After 4.5 hours (1764 km) flight by AirAsia flying at 575 mph, we arrived Chengdu Airport at 1.30pm. We took 2 vans (100Y each) to the city and checked in at Traffic Inn - 30Y pp. Alternatively, a airport taxi to city is 60Y or shuttle bus No.303 is 10Y pp. Had lunch in a coffee shop beside the Inn and then walked to the famous JinLi and Wuhou Temple area. Dinner in a Cantonese restaurant and evening was enjoying the local Black Drink - Guinea stout which taste like burnt coffee. Nice weather of about 25C during the day and evening was 18C. The elevation is 500m.

AirAsia D7-2622 is RM329 pp
China visa application is RM58
Bus from Ipoh to LCCT is RM42 pp
Airport van to city for 6 pax is 100Y
Sleeping - Traffic Inn, 6 Linjiang Road, Chengdu, Sichuan
Tel: 0086-(0)28-85451017 email:Master@traffic.com www.traffichotel.com
Std.room is 120Y for 3 person.
I think this Traffic Inn is the best place to stay in Chengdu next to Ximen bus station. It has really nice clean dorm rooms for 30Y per person. It has kettle, TV, nice communal western toilets and hot shower and also a washing machine (10Y) and plenty of drying space on the balconies. Also its centralized location.
Lunch at a coffee shop beside the Inn
Choo Chiew Chin enjoying a leg-wash
Chengdu is a big city of 10 million people in the province of Sichuan.
JinLi eating streets

Jin Li Street is 350m long, with construction style of ancient town in Central Chengdu. It integrates tourism, shopping, leisure and entertainments.

Sichuan snacks taste very good and also cheap.
Day 02 (21.03.10) day trip to Leshan Grand Buddha

Had breakfast in a shop behind our Inn - famous for pou and soya drink. We also found the wine brewing jag in one of the shops here which we bought on the last day of our trip. We took 2 hours, 145km bus journey (44Y pp) at XinNanMen bus station (New South Gate) beside our Inn to Leshan at 9.20 am. At Leshan, we had to take another bus No.13 (1Y pp) to the eastern park entrance - 2 tickets - 60Y for park entrance and 90Y for the Grand Buddha. We traveled back to Chengdu by the last bus (44Y pp) at 5.45pm.

Return bus ticket to Leshan is 88Y pp
Sleeping - Traffic Inn, Std.room is 120Y for 3 person.
Eastern gate entrance

170m reclining Buddha on Lingyun Hill

Cave entrance - somebody stole my penis

Wuyou Monastery - nice view from the top

Leshan Giant Buddha is 71m high, his ears are 7m long and the toe is 8.5m long, constructed in 90 years in 713AD. It lies in the convergence between Minjiang River and Dadu River facing Leshan City.
We walked down the cliff face and up on the other side of the cliff wall.
This place is swamped with people above and below the Grand Buddha.

Leshan City viewed from the top of Grand Buddha

Day 03 (22.03.10) Chengdu > JiuZhaiGou

We took the 8am bus (138Y) at XinNanMen bus station to JiuZhaiGou. It was a 9.5 hours, 421km pleasant bus journey which stopped every 2 hours for toilet and a lunch break at 1pm. This long journey passed through the country side and some mountain ranges before we arrived at 5.30 pm. At the bus station, a tout recommended a new Tibetan Guesthouse in a village for 80Y a room for two which was good. The hotel manager brought us to a Tibetan restaurant for dinner inclusive of Tibetan singing and dance. Evening was whiskey in our room until midnight - bought by Chew Leng Soon at the airport. Cold weather of 12C.

Bus ticket to JiuZhaiGou is 138Y
Sleeping at a Tibetan Guesthouse for 80Y a room for 2
Beautiful flowering plants

A river of ice

Our Tibetan Guesthouse

Colorful Tibetan design of our guesthouse

Traditional Tibetan singers and dancers welcome us
Tibetan dinner with songs and folk dance
Day 04 (23.03.10) JiuZhaiGou National Park

It was kind of the guesthouse manager to provide free transport to the National Park and back. The entrance fee is 80Y (winter low season) and the bus service is also 80Y which is compulsory. In normal season the cost of entry plus bus is 310Y. We visited the following places in the morning along the west road which has the best scenery - Arrow Bamboo Lake, Panda Lake, Five Flower Lake and Pearl Shoals Waterfall. Had buffet lunch (50Y per head) at the Tourist Centre. We then continued our sight seeing on the East road: NuoRiLang Waterfall, Rhinoceros Lake, Tiger Lake and finally the Tibetan Village beside ShuZheng Lake. Had dinner in town.

Park entrance fee plus bus is 160Y
Sleeping at a Tibetan Guesthouse for 80Y a room for 2
JiuZhaiGou, meaning 'Nine Village Gully'

Traditional Tibetan costume

Sharon Tan taking a break

Snow falling on Cindy
Day 05 (24.03.10) JiuZhaiGou>Songpan> Huanglong 

Guesthouse manager sent us to the bus station to catch the bus (30Y) at 7.30 am. A very pleasant 3 hours, 144km bus journey to Songpan, driving through tick snow covered country side. Upon arrival we checked in at Songzhou Hotel which is beside the main bus station - not so good without heater. After a quick lunch at Emma's Kitchen Bar Restaurant, we booked a van (6ooY) for 6 person to visit Huanglong Valley 56km away. The drive was very slow in view of the snow covered icy road, furthermore we have to stop every 15 minutes to adjust the loosen chain which was tied to both the back tyre to prevent skidding. Along the way there was a car in the drain and also witnessed with our own eyes a pickup truck spin two rounds in-front of us. After 3.5 hour drive, we arrived at the park. The entrance fee has been reduced to 60Y from 220Y in-view of the low season at this time of the year.

As we were short of time, Kee Moon and I decided to walk fast and managed to reach the Tibetan Temple at the top in 1.5 hour and walked back immediately after taking some photos.

We departed at 6.30 pm from the park and arrived at Emma's Kitchen by 9.30 pm for a sumptuous dinner ordered earlier by Bernard and Cindy. The return journey was very dangerous as the road became very icy and visibility was about only 25ft. Lily Yap had been praying for the safe journey which she did - many thanks to Lily. Evening was supper and whiskey at Emma's Kitchen to celebrate our safe return.

Huanglong entrance fee is 60Y (220Y peak season from Apr to Nov)
Bus ticket to Songpan is 30Y pp
Songzhou Hotel is 20Y pp

The average temperature is 5C all year round

Songpan is a city of 4 gates and walls that faces exactly the four directions of the wind. It is relatively clean and everywhere hangs red lanterns. Its elevation is 2,850m.

Crossing a mountain pass

The driver and I praying at a Tibetan shrine for our safe journey
Its a 6km walk to the end of this trek
The colorful lakes, snow clad mountains, valleys and virgin forest
Yellow Dragon Temple
The end of the 6km trek up the Yellow Dragon Valley in 1.5 hour
Evening supper and whiskey at Emma (second from left) Kitchen.

Day 06 (25.03.10) Songpan > Chengdu

The bus (86Y) depart Songpan at 7am for 388km hellish journey to Chengdu. The first 147 km bus journey was very slow through dirt-road with countless traffic jam - the roads were all under maintenance and upgrading. And the rest of the journey was like in hell - the driver was speeding and not obeying any traffic rules - I moved to the back seat in case of accident. We took a record 14 hours (normally 8 hrs) to arrive at Chengdu at 9pm.

Bus ticket to Chengdu is 86Y pp
Sleeping - Traffic Inn, Std.room is 120Y for 3 person.

Its more like a trek than a road
It was a moderately long drive across a spectacular mountainous region. During the drive, we came across non-paved section of the road under construction - horrible.

Tibetan villages

Please take note of this while travelling in China:
  1. To wear face mask in China as it is very dusty and smoky.
  2. Never ever pay any hotel booking deposit through a 3rd party.
  3. Never ever accept any deal as proposed by tout or individual acting as agent of hotel or travel agency at airport, bus or train stations and along the road. Always go to a reputable travel agency or in hotel.


  1. The yellow beautiful flowers in the
    photos are mustard flowers. You all should go to Lijiang and Shangrila next to see the yaks, snow mountain and llama temple!

  2. Eddy Cheong15 June, 2010

    Wow Ching!
    Thank you very much indeed for sharing the great photos of yours with us! They are superb and I highly recommend to all our readers!

    I visited those incredible places myself and your photos made me feel nostalgic. Perhaps its time I pack my backs again.....!

    Warmest Regards,

  3. Thomas Fong Choon Tuck15 June, 2010

    Thanks for sharing the AMAZING pictures.

    Thomas Fong
    GIOD IT,CIMB Group
    Tel : 603-20848914

  4. Anuar Shahid15 June, 2010

    "Ching...Bravo !!..life's seem wonderful to you..you are just an ardent adventurer & a challenger..u just do what u want to & go where u want to..its an adventure & its just beautiful!..well.. wish u good health, good fortune & longevity.. and may u enjoy all your adventures to come.. "
    Public Bank

  5. Tan Leoung Kien15 June, 2010

    Hi Botak Ching and Cucumber Lim! Thanks for sharing. I am in UK now (Ulu Klang) but I still can't stand the summer 'cold' and need to wear thick clothing outdoor. Looking at your pics and 'play-play' with the snow, you and cucumber must be super fit. Hope time will permit me to join you in another new adventure.
    Tan Sri Tan Leoung Kien
    (self proclaimed)

  6. Great scenery and nice photos ching! Tks for sharing!

  7. wow ...all photo post very nice ...
    i hope to go too :)
    fren recommend this blog to me ,tq

    my blog is http://keidou.multiply.com

  8. Wow! What a beautiful journey ... the photos and memories are priceless :)

    Poh Choo

  9. Kelly Hoh15 June, 2010

    Hi Ching,
    Thanks for sharing these pix wt me. I really appreciate n enjoy viewing it. Cheers....

  10. Hi Neng Bin, Thanks for sharing. The photos are so beautiful.

  11. MOBYA Pg.15 June, 2010

    Hi Ching,
    Nice photos.
    Thanks for sharing.

    MOBYA Pg.

  12. Josephine Tan15 June, 2010

    Hi Ching,
    Nice pics. Thanks for sharing. The scenery is really breathtaking. I hope to join you guys one day.

  13. Yeap Hock Hin15 June, 2010

    Woh, you have been to many interesting places while I just work, work and work. I also hope to travel like you when I retire. Maybe next time you arrange a trip like that and let me know, I see when me and my wife can join u. She also like to travel.

    Very nice pictures and friends.

    Public Bank

  14. Ong Ming Teck16 June, 2010

    Mr Ching,
    Very nice of you to share your traveling experience ... hope to receive more. Keep it up ....
    and take care.
    Ong Ming Teck
    Public Bank

  15. Ling Yoke Tek16 June, 2010

    Dear Ching,
    Many thanks for sharing your adventure with me, enjoyed the picture, only wish could join you one day. Pray thank you will enjoy good health so that you can really enjoy your retirement.
    God bless you.
    Yoke Tek

  16. Hi! Ching,

    Thanks a million for sharing your great photos. I really envy you.
    That is what I would say, living life to the fullest.

    Looking forward to more photos from your adventures to come... heehehe

  17. Too Teng Hoong18 June, 2010

    Neng Bin,
    Wow, you have made so many dream trips all over. All well planned and off the beaten path. Wish l was part of it. Where are your forth-coming trips? Please enlighten me. Would like very much to join/participate. l have done some simple trips myself viz:
    Backpacking, PAC hiking, Driving, Sea visits to Sabah, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China{Guangxi Hainan Guangzhou Yunnan Huangshan Xian Shanghai Beijing } Japan, Tehran, Germany, France, GB, Mauritius, Australia, Canada, US, Ecuador & Galapagos island, . . .
    My contact is 6 012 4883903
    TH Too

  18. Benny Tye18 June, 2010

    Hi Ching Neng Bin,
    Looks like its a great backpacking trip. Wish I could do that when in my retirement age!..ha..ha..ha...
    Loves all your shots taken.
    Enjoy while you can

  19. Jane Wong18 June, 2010

    Thank you for sharing your adventure with me, and I am glad to see my friend Lily Yap in the team. The scenery is awesome!! How about making an adventure trip to Nepal...?

  20. Richard Teoh18 June, 2010

    Dear Ching,
    Thank you for updating me with all yr latest travel adventure. I really envy you. I was in china last year too on backpack again all by myself. i will be leaving again in august/sept this year but will likely be in the southern part of china to guilin, lijiang, dali n part of shangri-la. it will be for about 12-15 days.

    Hope to hear more from you about your next coming travel plans.

    Best regards.

  21. Tan Choon Lay18 June, 2010

    I have just run through your photo in recent tour and accidentally I go back to your photo of 1976 with the PAC which show you with those Terry Khoo, Pasu, Ah Beng (the two brother) and I can only recall the handsome young guy in Public bank mixing with me and Ung Soon Wah(when we both work in MPPP) in the youth park course organised by then late Mr.Wee Theow Soon.I also realise you are also my same year schoolmate in Chung Ling. And if you still can't recall who i am, just think the twin brother with the style as you (botak head). I don't know whether you still can remember those members in HRL course or not, and I am glad to see our group in these days (at our age).

    from Tan Choon Lay,
    Penang (retired this month)

  22. Ching
    Really enjoying life ah, hope to join you on yr next adventure.

    Best wishes

    Wai Hoong
    Public Bank
    Lao PDR

  23. Hi Ching,

    Bernard Lee directed me to your blog.

    Nice pictures with good info for fellow travellers.

    Hope to join Bernard (or you) on your trips.

    I just came back on a 24 days backpack on the Silk Road all te way to Dunhuang.

    Pity we didnt get to Xinjang.


  24. Thanks for sharing, its wonderful, the scenery in Sungpan is unique, hope will follow you steps soon.

  25. Thanks for sharing, its wonderful, the scenery in Sungpan is unique, hope will follow you steps soon.

  26. Hai Ching,
    You sure had an awesome adventure! The information is helpful for my trip to Chengdu next April! thanks

  27. wow the picture speaks. so beautiful.

  28. hi,ching nice pict & wonderful moment.

  29. hi,ching very nice pict & wonderfull moment.

  30. hello sir, i really like your article. all the information you shared in this article is really useful. i have shared this article with my friends who wants to go Tibet.