The previous day, I had seen Qionghai Hu, or Lake Qionghai, on my way to and from Puge, to the south of Xichang in southern Sichuan province. But this morning, I decided to explore the lake itself, and some of its surrounding area. I took city bus 22 to the last station, and just a few kilometers south of Xichang, I already saw the lake on the left. Rays of sunlight were falling through the cloudy sky and shedding light on the tranquil waters of the lake. At the final stop, I decided to continue walking along its shore, and ended up walking on some narrow paths cutting through agricultural fields on the southern side of the lake. From here, the views of the lake and the surrounding mountains are superb. Even though the lake is quite big at 31 square km, it looked like a perfect mirror, reflecting the mountains around it and the cloudy sky. There is more to Qionghai Hu than just the lake itself, and my next destination was Lu Shan, a mountain on the western side of the lake. I declined all the offers to take me up in a car made at its base, right on the shore of Qionghai Hu, because I wanted to walk up.
After passing a memorial for the Japanese occupation of China, and several fortune tellers installed near the steps leading up Lu Shan, I passed the Liangshan Yi Minority Slave museum, paid my entrance to the nature park, and was stopped by a big group of monkeys which were running around, fighting, and hissing at me. I decided to be careful, and at the same time, marveled at the remarkable speed at which they shot up and down the trees. Walking further up hill, I passed several Buddhist temples and monasteries, all part of the Lu Shan temple complex that had suffered during the Cultural Revolution but which seems to be recovering - temples are being rebuilt. All temples seemed a haven of peace, and all had their own atmosphere. As the stairs seemed to continue up the hill, I decided to continue climbing them. When I pointed at the picture of a view tower on top of a hill, a picture that I had seen several times already on Lu Shan, a woman enthusiastially pointed up - and I was under the impression that it would be right at the top of this Lu Shan mountain. The stairs cut nicely through the pine tree forest - with a nice scent in the air, walking up was very pleasant. As long as there were signs pointing uphill towards the watch tower, I was confident I was on the right way. But when I finally reached the top of the hill, I was in for an anticlimax. Instead of a six-story watchtower, I found an electricity plant, strictly forbidden to enter. The Chinese that had been climbing Lu Shan, also looked a little lost - and since the path finished here, there was no other option than to walk down again. While doing so, I counted more than 4,000 steps. At least climbing Lu Shan gave me some serious exercise!
At several places, there were good views of Qionghai Hu - even though the views were often obstructed by trees. On the way down, I visited the main temple complex, with several pagodas, statues, restaurants, and an over 2000 year old cypress tree, an impressive gnarled massive survivor of time. Instead of walking the last stretch down, I decided to try the toboggan, a sledge on a metal course - great fun! I also visited the developed touristy area on the shore of Qionghai Lake, where I found a market, several monuments, fountains, a statue of a woman in a half moon playing the flute, lots of fishermen, people doing water sports, boats taking passengers to the other side of Qionghai Hu, ponds with the inevitable carps, and a handful of Chinese tourists. Yes, the views of the lake were great - but I preferred enjoying it from the undeveloped shore on the southern side of the lake.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Qionghai-Hu Lake (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Qionghai-Hu Lake.
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