Today, we explore the more baffling questions in life. Why do I find hairy pom pom hats so startlingly attractive? How has Bangkok turned me into a lady? Why doesn’t Australia have reindeer gelato sticks? How is it that Bad Gal RiRi birthed the ultimate pair of leather pants? How did I manage to get food poisoning on the last day of a month-long trip?
But first and foremost: how can it be that paradise is freezing cold and bikini-free? (Perhaps better translated to: what can be more paradisaical than Sri Panwa?)
Apparently, when a Goddess shatters her mirror on Earth – that’s how. 九寨沟 is made up of 101 lakes of the most mindblowing turquoise to rival Tahiti, the Maldives and the Seychelles. December frostbite doesn’t even pose a threat – rather, it’s one of the valley’s more appealing facets. The fact that you want to rip off your cashmere and UNIQLO and frolic in the marine algae and calcium carbonate is reason enough. Clearly, Jiǔ zhài gōu takes the game, hands down – unlike other tropical destinations, this World Heritage haven doesn’t require Photoshop for crystal clear aquatics.
Our hotel receptionist found it exceptionally amusing that we had even considered visiting in the Winter, and made it known to the entire vicinity that the pair of us were staying for five whole days when 九寨沟 was so so ugly. Indeed, the urge to take a dive would have been thrice multiplied in higher Centigrade, as my father saw it, and allegedly magical in Autumn, when all leaves surrounding the lakes are bright red (but alas, I had exams at the time…). But let’s be honest here: I can only handle so many busloads of Chinese tourists per hour, and even in the dead of Winter, the place was teaming with more brands of SLR than you could cough up in a lifetime.* So, while there was only about five hours of real sunlight in a day, both 九寨沟 and the Sichuan soup dumplings afterwards remained ever charming (even if it only snowed in our final 24 hours).
Coincidentally (or perhaps not?), my Mary Katrantzou on our first round of exploring set the scene, much to fellow troopers’ amusement. Dear Mary: I know that your twisted tree/Winter lake scape was not grounded in China, but you need to get yourself the hell to 九寨沟, I need to reconsider my career as Sherlock Holmes, and every single one of you needs to add this slice of heaven to your bucket list, because I swear on my mittens (and that is a damn swear) that it will hit you in the chest with its enchanting blue magic and force the recovery consumption of too many dumplings.
For this, I am forever grateful, and will continue #latergram-ing its baby blues until Instagram becomes redundant. I’m still in absolute awe that we were lucky enough (and/or could get our flights together quickly enough) to witness such a freak of nature, just six months after my Dad made me supremely jealous.
Boarding call – must run!
*Alex and I thought it would be a great idea to beat the crowds by starting at 8:30am one morning, and nearly got hypothermia.