China, by bus: Jiuzhaigou to Chengdu (12+ hours)

The trip from Jiuzhaigou to Chengdu, or vice versa, can be difficult by land. By bus or car it is at least 10 hours, along the Min River, which is subject to rockslides and mudslides and Chinese drivers who don’t really care about driving on this side of the road versus that side.

After having done the trip once before, from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou, I considered flying from Jiuzhaigou back to Chengdu. But easy is no fun, so I bought a bus ticket, and rolled the dice. Unlike my first trip alongside the Min River canyon, there were no rockslides or mudslides that I saw; however, there was an accident that blocked ~30km of traffic for two to three hours.

During our delay, I sat on the bus, then I sat on the side of the road, then I made friends with Chinese people, old and young. I tried to speak some Chinese. I did not speak well. Even though I had no idea when the traffic might start moving again, it was still more fun than a plane.

The entire trip took a bit more than 12 hours.

The river was not visible in this part of the canyon, but this was my view for more than two hours, as traffic stood at a complete standstill because of an accident 30km ahead.

The scene behind us during the accident delay, on the road from Jiuzhaigoo to Chengdu; Sichuan province, China.

Our bus driver, in orange, sat in the shade of the truck in front of our bus, for two hours, while we waited for traffic to move.

The view from behind our bus, looking forward; you can see the bus driver in the distance, wearing orange, sitting in the shade of the truck immediately in front of his bus.

I made friends with this old Chinese man (61 years old, according to a girl who I think was his granddaughter); he wanted to try out my hand-grip exercises after he saw me using them during our hours-long delay.

He took great pride in being able to squeeze the grips.

Chinese granddad on the bus from Jiuzhaigou to Chengdu; Sichuan province, China.

These girls took a liking to me, and we became friends on our 12-hour bus ride; we spoke a little Chinese, but no English, and they told me that they were seven (top) and five (bottom) years old; the seven-year-old told me that her grandfather was 61 years old.

We practiced Chinese numbers, and they helped me with the pronunciation of certain words; in return, I taught them how to say “good evening,” in English, and also, “umbrella,” because it had started to rain.