Tag Archives: Sichuan

Getting Lost in Langzhong

Remember my blog post “The Time we actually travelled somewhere”? Back then I only mentioned the Jianmenguan Pass however we still had another destination afterwards. I guess I tried to forget about it as the bus trip (which already took 6 hours to the Jianmenguan Pass) did not improve while driving to our final destination. In fact it got worse as the driver got lost several times so the whole trip took instead of another 2 1/2 hours again around 6 hours.

One of the countless of Buildings we visited in Langzhong

At late night we arrived in  Langzhong and were hushed by the tour guide into the old town to our Traditional Inn. As we arrived so late they did not have any dinner left and nearly all restaurants had closed already as the Old Town is a tourist attraction and thus only opened during daytime. After searching for what felt an eternity we found one restaurant we could eat something. On the down side it was filled with drunken patrons, on the bright side they had food for us. The only memories I have from the first night in the room was that those old buildings certainly do not give you any rest as you hear everyone in the whole inn talking or walking around.

From the towers in the Ancient Town you have a wonderful view around

Because we were part of a tourist group it meant also a very strict timetable. Wake up was at 5:30 AM and by 6 AM we had to be done with breakfast and run around the ancient town of Langzhong. The place looks really amazing and it is full of history but running from one temple to the next ancient school to the next ancient tomb was very exhausting. Besides exhausting it was also very repetitive as after a while all those buildings were looking the same. Because of the strict timetable we had to rush to every location and we got lost several times as we could not keep up the speed together with Nathan. One good thing though was that the food was pretty decent unlike at the horrifying experience from the City Tour Extreme a year later.

Eating bubbles because why not

Langzhong is a very interesting city as the ancient town is well-preserved and has an over 2.300 years of history. One of the main points I still remember is the ZhangFei Temple which is also where his tomb is located. On a funny side note I have to mention that MIL did not dare to enter the temple as she thinks that God will punish her for that. No idea where she got that from but in all our travels she never entered a temple due to her fear. Nathan became quickly an attraction on his own when we walked around wearing his monk costume. At one point there were several dozen people following him and taking pictures with him. Needless to say that MIL tried to be in each picture as well…

See, take picture of me and also the little guy in my arms

Our tour group allowed to have some little “freedom” by being able to select certain extras to visit. One of those extras was a performance on the other side of the river. It was a really wonderful perfomance and the only negative thing was the ridiculous amount of selfie-sticks being used to take pictures and videos. Due to that I had too often a huge tablet right in front of me. I tried my best but somehow I could not find the name of the performance online nor does my wife remembers the name any longer. All I know is that it is located right next to the Jinping Hill which is on its own already a great location to visit. We had a strict timetable when visiting the Jinping Hill and kind of got lost half way through. Especially carrying Nathan’s small pram up and down countless of stairs was a bit hard.

Entrance to the performance area

I can only recommend to visit Langzhong but without a tour group! Two to three days would be best as there is a lot to see already in the ancient town and in the surrounding area. The Jinping Hill alone can easily consume up to six hours when trying to really “see” everything there. What I can not recommend is the vinegar museum as it is just a tourist trap and of course everyone in my tour group bought plenty of vinegar in the store located at the exit of the museum.

Have you visited so-called Ancient Towns before?

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Going around Zhaohua Ancient Town

Remember when I wrote that I had totally forgotten that we actually did travel once a bit around in China? Back then I wrote about the trip to the Jianmenguan Pass which was actually in the end of a 3 day trip around the north of Sichuan.  Why Sichuan? Because it is the neighbouring province of Shaanxi and just a few hours by bus away. Our first stop was Zhaohua Ancient Town which is in the Yuanba District, Guangyuan, Sichuan. Okay, it was not the first “stop” as we did had a couple of stops during the bus ride at service areas. In one of those service areas I saw a public toilet nightmare but this is just too much for this blog and it shall forever haunt only my memories.

Looks old but most of the structure is probably new


As I explained in the other post we were part of a tour group and hence the entire trip around was very carefully planned and left barely any time to go around on your own. At Zhaohua we went straight to eat at a little restaurant organized by the tour group. It was nothing special but good enough to have nothing to complain about. The tour around the ancient town was interesting but annoying at the same time. Interesting as the ancient town was really wonderful and offered tons of picture/ video material and annoying as the local tourist guide had a very fast pace going from building to building which forced me to run after the group more than just once as I was busy taking pictures or recording some videos.

So much red


Zhaohua is a very old town with several temples, an old city wall with several gates, old governmental buildings, sculptures and also an ancient flag stone road. I read back then in some online source that some thirty years ago the town was much smaller, many temples were missing/ destroyed back in the day but that there were also many wooden structures left from the early Qing Dynasty. Though there were many old structures left it was a bit messed up because ugly new houses had been build all over the town. In that source the author explained also how different the town looked when he went there again several years ago as many wooden structures had been torn down and replaced by these new structures. Now these houses didn’t look like new houses anymore as they got fake wooden house fronts so they looked like the old houses again. So by the time we went there I really couldn’t tell which were the original old houses and which were the new “fake old” houses. Besides that the whole town was pretty much very touristy. Not that I am unhappy that they rebuilt so many of these ancient structures but I really don’t understand why they had to tear down actual ancient houses and replace them with new ones.

Hello little snake


We were in the town for a few of hours before heading to the next destination. Nearly the entire time there was spent with eating and running behind the tour guide. Thankfully we had some 45 min times to go around on our own which allowed us to relax a bit after running for so long time and take a closer look at the buildings. The main street in that town was full of little shops selling souvenirs, local snacks and clothes. It was also there that I suddenly ended up with a little snake in my camera bag. No, it didn’t just appeared out of thin air but a man had it on his shoulder and offered me to hold it myself. It was then that the snake decided it had seen enough people for one day and quickly wriggled its way out of my hands and into the dark and cosy camera bag. The man even offered me to buy the snake but you know it would be a bit hard to get that animal through security and customs at the airport…

How do you feel about rebuilding ancient structures but tearing down existing old ones at the same time?

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The time we actually travelled somewhere in China (Jianmenguan Pass)

Remember all the times I wrote we never managed to go anywhere outside of Xi’an during all of our holidays there? I must admit that is not entirely true as we have visited many places around the city such as Mount Hua, the Shaanxi wild animal conversation research center and the Zoological Park. These places are not that far away from Xi’an however once we managed it even into another Province: Sichuan! I had nearly forgotten about it but untill I stumbled upon the pictures. This particular trip was at the Jianmenguan Pass which has much history behind it (like nearly every other place in China…).

Jianmenguan Pass with the fortress

We got to that mountain area by bus which we took from Xi’an. I don’t remember anymore how long the trip was exactly but I guess it was round 6 hours.  It was a small bus filled with many other people from our tourgroup, nearly all of them were in their 60s to 70s. As many of you know some Chinese can be rather noisy when traveling and this meant no sleep at all during the entire trip. Thankfully the bus had a small TV and the bus driver was so nice to play some Stephen Chow movies which helped to forget about all the noisy non-stop chatter and food throwing around.  Sadly we didn’t had the best weather during that time but at least it wasn’t raining when we reached Jianmenguan Pass. There we had the option to go straight to the fortification by walking for 30min or take a cable car half way up the mountain and walk from there 45min to the fortification and the little town behind it.  Of course there was also an option to get to the mountain top  where now also a viewing platform made out of tempered glass is crowning the top but that would have costs an additional 30 Dollars per person and there was simply no time in the schedule for it (tour groups rarely leave space for going around on your own).


Nearly the entire tour group decided for the option to go half way up the mountain and then walk to the fortification with only few people deciding on the shorter way. To our surprise there was a little extra for the more adventurous people after the cable car ride, the Birdsway! Me and my wife took it of course as we had no desire to walk on a normal street around and I quickly regretted that decision. First of all this path went up some stairs, bazillion of stairs to be precise. But that wasn’t the bad thing yet, not even when the stairs started to go straight up the mountain side with only a chain to hold onto. No…it wasn’t the worst part though it was very exhausting. The worst part for a person like me with Acrophobia (fear of heights) was when the small path leading up the mountain became suddenly 30-40cm wide with only a chain protecting against falling down the cliff side! As I am so afraid of heights I can’t really say how high this cliff side was so it could be anything between 30-100m. Even though the view was stunning I was terrified up there and it wasn’t helping at all to see other Chinese tourists leaning over the chains to take some crazy selfies.  I was just so relived when the path ended and the normal way around the mountain started again. Mind you, it was still exhausting as there were still hundreds of stairs going up and down but no more cliff side craziness.

My nightmare (of course I don’t mean my wife!)

The rest of the hike was going through a beautiful landscape full of old cypress trees and from time to time some small bamboo groves. Needless to say the wonderful landscape and peace was always interrupted by some food stalls standing in the middle of nowhere clustered with dozens of tourists enjoying their 10th cup noodle (must be some kind of challenge to stop at every food stall and eat noodles!). Funny enough people always assumed there that I am from Xinjiang, don’t ask me why. In the end we reached the famous fortress at the Shu Road which enabled small forces to hold against huge armies due to its strategic position. Afterwards we still had to walk for a few minutes until we reached a little village located there and have our lunch with the rest of the tour group. What I still remember about the food is that the tour guide “prepared” us for 15 minutes during our trip to the mountain that every dish will have tofu and is super delicious, repeating tofu and delicious about 100 times. But yes, it was indeed delicious!

Do you have a fear of heights?

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