It was time to leave the pretty Jiaju Village and head to Mt Siguniang or the Mt Four sisters. We were thoroughly impressed with the couple running the homestay and I gifted a pair of earrings to the lady of the house to express our gratitude.
The road out of Jiaju was a drive on the other side of the mountain. It had rained the previous evening and made the route muddy and treacherous.
We drove out to the Xiaojun county beside the Dadu river. This valley is of exceptional beauty and is famous for its luscious red apples (clear from the large apple statue at the town entrance).We stopped at the Long March Bridge in Luding for a short break. There was a pretty spice market on the sidewalks, and we did a fair amount of spice shopping here. The ladies were quite astonished to see me buy so much of Sichuan peppers and kept asking Kevin our whereabouts and destination.
We drive out from Xiaojun county to picturesque mountains and then into Danba town. It was lunch time by then and we could see nice Sichuan eateries on both sides of the road, so we parked and entered a not so busy restaurant. Lo and Behold , it became bustling with large families. I did see a large jar of snake wine here with an actual snake in the Chinese wine jar. By now, we had become quite adept at eating with chopsticks and enjoying the food a lot.
We were driving down to the Siguniangshan Scenic Area. This is famous for Four Sisters Mountain and the three valleys, – Shuangqiao Valley, Changping Valley and Haizi Valley. This became the Four Sisters Mountain National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage list in 2006 as a giant panda sanctuary.
We arrived at the Shuangqiao Valley and parked here. This is the longest of the three valleys and most accessible to tourists. A wooden walkway built for 30 km in the valley covers about 3 quarters of the valley.
The valley is open from 8 am to 6 pm and there are regular shuttles running from the entrance to the valley. The entrance tickets costs 80 CNY from April-November and Kevin went ahead and bought the same for all of us.
It was quite sunny and crisp, so we left our jackets in our vehicle and boarded the shuttle.
He said that the plan was to take the shuttle on the way in and view the scenic panorama of snow-clad peaks, lakes, meadows, and forests and then trek back on the board walk on our return.The shuttle stops at all the attraction points and one may alight on or off the bus at any point. there are small Tibetan shops selling spices, herbs, instant noodles, and snacks at spots inside the park.
The valley will grab your attention as the landscape keeps changing. We sat at the back of our shuttle and could see the scenic panorama all around us. And the weather as well as we would soon discover!
The first scenic spot is the Yin-Yang Valley with the skyline of snow peaked mountains. Then comes the Sun-Moon Mirror Mountain. A rocky outcrop snow clad and seems to look like 2 mirrors hanging from the sky.You can then see the Five-Colored Mountain aptly named because of the various hues of the mountain.The skies suddenly turned grey and the weather became nippy on entering the valley.
Ginsenguo Flatland is one of the prettiest with bright blooms all through amidst the snowy mountains.
Jiujia is a motley collection of about a dozen lakes, some seasonal and some perennial.
A few of the towering peaks here are Dumu Peak, Jianzi Mountain and Hunters Peak both above 5000 meters.
Mount Siguniang is also known as the Four Sisters Mountain. Four glorious mountains stand one beside the other ruling over the horizon with their towering crests. They are part of the Eastern Hengduan Range.
We drove over to the viewing spot which was also crammed with tourists and small traders peddling spices, beef jerky, wild mushrooms like Matsutake and Morchella and of course Tibetan salted tea with a dollop of yak butter.
We were staying at the Rilong town about 7 km from the Shuangqiao Valley at the Ximu Shanju hotel. This is quite a popular tourist haunt and serves as the base for Mount Siguniang trekking enthusiasts.
The three of us ventured out to look for a café. We found a pool bar with a cappuccino machine. Delighted to have some good coffee here as well.
Kevin said that one of the unique dishes here was the local barbeque. So as the dusk settled in , we got some local brew and sat down at one of the roadside barbeques . They were selling various cuts of meat and served it with a sprinkling of Sichuan peppers.
We thoroughly enjoyed this and walked back to our hotel as the night fell in this bustling town.