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Jiuzhai Valley in Sichuan

updated: 2010-06-28

Situated in southwestern China, Sichuan Province covers the eastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and most of the Sichuan Basin. It has been famous as the Land of Plenty because of its beautiful natural sceneries, various ethnic customs, world famous cuisine and distinctive Sichuan Opera.

Praised for its natural beauty, Jiuzhaigou is known as Heaven on earth and a fairyland of colors. The scenery in Jiuzhaigou differs with the four seasons.

The Y shaped Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, is located in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in eastern Sichuan. It is more than 40 kilometers long and gets its name from the nine stockade villages of Tibetan origin.

Nerohem Yam is a traveler from Israel. He has traveled to many parts of China but is still impressed by what he sees in Jiuzhai Valley.

"This is the most beautiful place in China. I've never seen such streams and mountains before. Every thing here is distinctive."

The rivers and lakes of Jiuzhai Valley contribute a large part to its natural beauty. Scattered in the valley strip are more than a hundred colorful lakes, which are called Haizi, or the sea, by local Tibetans.

Water in the lakes is clear and transparent, presenting pebbles, waterweeds and dead twigs to the naked eye. Every lake is a mixture of vivacious green and deep blue, with touches of loud yellow.

Changhai is the biggest lake in Jiuzhai Valley. Its beauty is shown by a close view of limpid aquamarine and a distant view of azure tranquility, and strengthened by the reflection of green hills on the two sides.

A sharp contrast to the tranquility of the lakes is the big waterfalls. The roaring water passes trees and rocks, and then strikes the ground. Together with water drops from the cliffs, they splash in the air, producing a beautiful rainbow under the sunshine. The 100-meter wide Nuorilang Waterfall is one of the widest in China.

In 1992, Jiuzhai Valley was listed on the World Natural Heritage List of the UNESCO.

Yang Fuying, a local tour guide, says the scenery here changes from season to season.

"Spring starts in April or May, quite late compared to other parts of the country. In early spring visitors are attracted by a view of snow flakes falling amongst peach blossoms."

The guide adds that the forests and rich water resources also make Jiuzhai Valley a good summer resort. The mountains here are especially beautiful during the autumn period, presenting natural scenery like that of an oil painting. In winter, the amber-like blue ice on the lakes produces a distinctive view. The blue ice is formed during winter - a mix of pine leaves and calcified substances in the water.

The number of tourists in Jiuzhai Valley had decreased after the massive earthquake in 2008 that disrupted transportation in this area. But the tourist flow was restored to previous levels last year after a complete restoration of the transport system.

Lin Jiashui is vice director of the Marketing Department of Jiuzhaigou Tourist Administration.

"The earthquake itself did not affect the natural resources in the scenic area, but the number of tourists reduced due to the natural disaster."

The official says they took the slack season as an opportunity to strengthen infrastructure construction. In the past year, they thoroughly examined and repaired the 60-kilometer long eco-path to assure the safety of tourists. They also rebuilt and improved the service facilities in the scenic region in order to provide better services. New tourism programs have been added to attract visitors.

"We held a tourism festival earlier this year. The annual event features ice cascades and the snow scenery."

Various other tourism programs include Tibetan song and dance performances, campfires, and local food.

Transportation to Jiuzhai Valley is easy. Direct flights provide access from a number of big cities to the area. Air tickets with discounts are provided especially in the off season which lasts from November to March.

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