Another 2 weeks in Sichuan: Dujiangyan and Mount Qingcheng

Going to two of the places we had to skip in our first trip: the ancient irrigation system of Dujiangyan and the front, taoist mountain of Qingcheng.

After the first few days in Chengdu1 we moved on to Dujiangyan. We got train tickets to a relatively remote train station, Xifu - which, to our luck, was on the metro line closest to our hotel in Chendgu, but when we asked for directions, the receptionists face morphed into a question mark. “Why do you want to go there? Tourists don’t go to Xipu.” So again, we were a little off the regular tracks, but it was at least easy to get there.

The way to Dujiangyan

Unlike the rest of the countries we’ve been to, Chengdu - so I assume China itself - has baggage checks for the metro line as well. Not the way too insane, European, remove-your-belt-shoes-everything, but xray and fluid scanners. Therefore getting on the metro is a little slowers, but it’s surprisingly fast even with the check, and feels much safer. (Unless you carry some small bottles of Unicum in your bag, you know, just in case, which you totally forget, and they try to tell you to get it out from you bag in Chinese.)

At Xipu were we approached by a bunch of definitely non-Asian people - they turned out to be exchange students from the US trying to figure out where we’re from - one of them got a lucky guess of Eastern Europe - going to Qingcheng.

The train was nice again, although not as hilariously good as on our first trip in 2014; I think we somehow bought tickets for first class that time. There is still at least 2x the leg space on second class compared to anywhere in Europe, so fast trains in China = good, comfortable trip.

The buildings you pass by also are slightly larger than the ones we’re used to in our tiny Old Continent.

Unmistakenly Asian contruction of flats
Camera
Nexus 4
Aperture
f/2.6
Shutter speed
1/324 sec
Focal length (as set)
4.6 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 100
Lens
Unmistakenly Asian houses with a vast amount of
Camera
Nexus 4
Aperture
f/2.6
Shutter speed
1/247 sec
Focal length (as set)
4.6 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 100
Lens

Dujiangyan: Irrigation System and Scenic Area

map of the Dujiangyan Scenic Area

We knew the Water Releasing Festival2 will happen and we were also fairly certain it will happen when we are there. The only knowledge we were missing was the exact place, so we headed to the Irrigation System and the Scenic Area - and maybe see something about this festival.

Right next to the hotel we stayed there was a bus station - bus 36, that would take us to the entrance. But instead of the expected bus - you know, a big, 30+ seats thing - a minivan sized 8 seater arrived, with the bus sign 36 on front of it! Seriously, that was the bus, and it kind of made sense, since it’s a small town, not many using the public transport. Oh, and it cost 1 Yuan. That is about 10 pennies.

A mix of modern and ancient in a building in Dujiangyan
Camera
Nexus 4
Aperture
f/2.6
Shutter speed
1/25 sec
Focal length (as set)
4.6 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 100
Lens

The unexpected - there’s always an unexpected - came when we reached the entrance: my god, the amount of people there. A vast river of human flood the street looked like, and for us, who were there for the peaceful nature, this was kind of a shock.

Dujiangyan main street crowded with tourists
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/50 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Dujiangyan main street very crowded with tourists
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/400 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 1600
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Even the stairs taking you to the mountain was crowded in Dujiangyan
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/60 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

After climbing a few steps we decided to take the least utilized paths towards Anlan Bridge - and after ~4 in the afternoon, things finally started to clear up and people started to vanish.

Flowers and ancient roofs in Dujiangyan
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/60 sec
Focal length (as set)
43.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Ancient looking houses in Dujiangyan
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/100 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

Going upper was suddenly “blocked” by an escalator, that was built underneath the ancient roof, replacing the regular stairs. It is quite a unique thing.

The ancient roofs were kept, but the stairs underneath were replaced with an escalator
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/4.0
Shutter speed
1/25 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 160
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL

And of course, there is a beautiful temple at the top of the hill.

Dujiangyan temple at the top of the hill
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/80 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

We wandered a few more temples in the Scenic Area - one of them was exceptionally peaceful and seem to have survived the 2009 earthquake with a few distortions to it’s structure - impossible to align a picture here.

Dujiangyan Scenic Area - ancient passages through monasteries
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/25 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 800
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Dujiangyan Scenic Area - Nora taking a picture of incests in front of a shrine
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/4.0
Shutter speed
1/30 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Dujiangyan Scenic Area - some of these buildings survived the 2009 Earthquake without any serious damage…
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/4.0
Shutter speed
1/100 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
…but you won’t be able to find a single straight line in this monastery in the Dujiangyan Scenic Area
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/20 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Patio between monastery buildings in Dujiangyan
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/4.0
Shutter speed
1/100 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 800
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
A rare moment in Dujiangyan when only a few people were blocking the view
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/5.6
Shutter speed
1/15 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Benches to rest at Erwang Temple in Dujiangyan
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/4.0
Shutter speed
1/15 sec
Focal length (as set)
50.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 50mm F1.8

The Anlan Bridge - the Husband & Wife Bridge - overlooks the irrigation system3 which is the main cause to visit the area. In a few words: this is a 2000+ years old layout, with very low dams, that regulates the river Min, preventing it from flooding the plains it crosses. A few turns here, a split there, and voilà, the river is not a monster anymore. I wish we had a clearer day: with all the haze in the air it was a bit hard to see it’s full glory.

Anlan Bridge and the irigation system in Dujiangyan
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/4.0
Shutter speed
1/320 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Us at the Anlan Bridge in Dujiangyan
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/5.6
Shutter speed
1/50 sec
Focal length (as set)
68.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 160
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR
The Anlan - Husband and Wife - Bridge that overlooks the river Min, with the Qinyan Tower in the back.
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/4.0
Shutter speed
1/80 sec
Focal length (as set)
50.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 50mm F1.8

One note: get out the way you came in. The way out from the island is long and if a taxi hadn’t pop up there it would have taken us ours to get back to the hotel.

Later it turned out that the festival was held at the very end of the scenic area, close to the bridge - and it was as packed as it’s possible, so while we were a little sad we missed it, I think it’s better this way.

Dujiangyan at night

When we saw some parts if this little city during the day it looked promising for the night: knowing that people here like bathing their nights in lights, we expected a view, and we were not wrong.

One of the bridges in Dujiangyan, bathing in LED lights at night
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/6.3
Shutter speed
1/5 sec
Focal length (as set)
62.5 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR
Another bridge in Dujiangyan, also looking magnificent with the lights at night
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/6.3
Shutter speed
1/5 sec
Focal length (as set)
48.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 800
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Even the riverbed is lighted in Dujiangyan…
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
2.5 sec
Focal length (as set)
23.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
… which allows you to take gorgeous pictures of the flow at night
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
2.5 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
With these ligths, some buildings in Dujiangyan look like they are straight out from Spirited Away
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/6.3
Shutter speed
1/10 sec
Focal length (as set)
85.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 1600
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

Finding food was a little tricky. Unlike in Jiuzhaigou4, the restaurants and small places weren’t keen on putting up pictures of the dishes, so we ended up in a small alley, where some sympathetic local woman was making good looking servings; semi-guessing that what we’re about to eat is some kind of pork with rice. It was good, so instead of taking a risk of eating somewhere else, this was our place for two days.

If you’re unable to read Chinese choosing your meal might be tricky
Camera
Nexus 4
Aperture
f/2.6
Shutter speed
1/20 sec
Focal length (as set)
4.6 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 900
Lens

Unlike this place, most parts of the food streets has fresh stock - and I mean you choose the still living animal to eat. It’s not for the faint hearted; expect to see rabbits, pheasants, ducks, frogs, etc. here. Nothing ugly thankfully, so no cats, dogs, or anything like that; most of these animals are eaten in Europe as well, you just don’t expect to see them living before cooking any more.

Mount Qingcheng, Front Mountain

On our first trip5 we decided to skip the front mountain and go for the less known back mountain; this was one of the reasons why we wanted to come back for a visit. Unfortunately we received a proper Welsh weather for this day: rain, with a bit of a shower, bathed in fog. At least it added a mysterious touch.

There were a few little shops around the entrance, and I have no idea what kind of pasty were this two hammering, while singing some kind of work-song, but it was interesting.

Making sweets with hammers while singing works songs at the foot of Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/4.5
Shutter speed
1/25 sec
Focal length (as set)
39.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

It was also not unusual to see small, old folks with insane packs on their back. Apparently some mountains, especially the monasteries, are only reachable on foot, so you still need people like them. And donkeys.

Local in Qingcheng with 2 huge gas tanks in his back
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/5.6
Shutter speed
1/50 sec
Focal length (as set)
75.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 3200
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Qingcheng in the rain is quite deserted, but still beautiful: the water adds a lof of reflection
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/30 sec
Focal length (as set)
26.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
The ferry on the front mountain of Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/125 sec
Focal length (as set)
23.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
The ferry on the front mountain of Mount Qingcheng - closeup
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/25 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Misty, wet, but still magnificent: Taoist temple on Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/80 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 800
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Ancient shelter on Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/100 sec
Focal length (as set)
18.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 800
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

Before the cable car, we decided to sit down for a tea - that was probably a good idea, because the really heavy rain started right after we got our tea, so we didn’t have to walk in that weather. After this, it started to clear up a bit.

The mountain is full of Taoist temples, and most of them are extraordinary. Unlike in Europe, ancient here usually means a thing that had been there for thousands of years, but since they are in use, they are constantly renovated - some parts are new, others are hundreds of years old. I’ve read many disappointed entries, stating that what was labelled ancient is a remake; it’s not. It’s a living, actively in use thing, therefore it needs fixing; otherwise you could only visit ruins - just like in Europe.

Beautiful details of golden dragons on shrines at Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/5.6
Shutter speed
1/40 sec
Focal length (as set)
85.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
The rain and the mist certainly adds to the feeling of misticism surrounding most of the places at Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/5.0
Shutter speed
1/40 sec
Focal length (as set)
21.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
When the rain and the fog gets thick many things will blend into the nothingness, including the upper levels of this temple on Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/200 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
A temple garden at Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/40 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Ancient gate on Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/125 sec
Focal length (as set)
39.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 800
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

Meanwhile we met a Chinese guy, name Jason - also a photographer mad enough to come out in this weather -, it was nice to talk to a local.

They way down is nice, with lots of temples, stairs and a surprisingly large gulch - no wonder this place is the secret panda village from Kung Fu Panda 3.

Cave-temple at Qingcheng, reconstructed the same way it used to look after a fire
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/13 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 160
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Well maintained stairs everywhere on Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/15 sec
Focal length (as set)
26.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 1600
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Ancient paths carved into the mountain at Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/20 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Hundred meter deep gulch at Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/60 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 1600
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Ancient temple with original looking parts, given nothing was straight - a temple on Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/15 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 1600
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Inside one of the temples on Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/60 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 400
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
Stairs leading into a monastery on mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/25 sec
Focal length (as set)
23.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 1600
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

Mount Qingcheng, Back Mountain (again), the other path

Entrance of the rear mountain of Qingcheng
Camera
Nexus 4
Aperture
f/2.6
Shutter speed
1/543 sec
Focal length (as set)
4.6 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 100
Lens

The original plan was to visit a scenic area in the north, but since we really loved the back mountain the last time, and we only got to see one of the paths, we ended up visiting it again. The area is currently undergoing a massive development: lots of houses are built and apparently many more tourists are coming - this was unfortunately visible from the amount of rubbish as well, which was not like this on our first trip.

Reflection of the entrance gate of Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/6.3
Shutter speed
1/60 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
The first village at the rear peak of Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/6.3
Shutter speed
1/30 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
The rear peak of Qingcheng is a lot less old and ancient looking, with a lot of modern development
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/80 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Even though these building are all new, they try to keep the look and the atmosphere similar to the rest of the mountain
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/15 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Rope bridge at the rear peak of Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/30 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
Ancient pines and stairs at the rear peak of Mount Qingcheng
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/5.0
Shutter speed
1/20 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
The rear path of the back mountain was more abandoned than the usual paths we take, and was not always in the best shape…
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/50 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 200
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
… but it was full of small waterfalls, streams, and brooks, and it was quiet and peaceful. And it’s ~45 minutes from Chengdu…
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/30 sec
Focal length (as set)
43.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 800
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
…with stairs above the brooks…
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/25 sec
Focal length (as set)
23.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 1600
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
…paths above the ponds…
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/11.0
Shutter speed
1/13 sec
Focal length (as set)
16.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 160
Lens
HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR
…and passages in the riverbeds
Camera
PENTAX K-5 II s
Aperture
f/8.0
Shutter speed
1/20 sec
Focal length (as set)
35.0 mm
Sensitivity
ISO 160
Lens
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.4 AL

It wasn’t dark already like on our first visit, but no taxis and no buses were around again, even though we expected them So yes, we ended up getting of the mountain by looking lost enough, so the locals offered us a ride back to the city for slightly unhappy amount of money.


  1. https://petermolnar.net/sichuan-chengdu-2/

  2. http://m.chinadaily.com.cn/en/2016-04/05/content_24285470.htm

  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dujiangyan_irrigation_system

  4. https://petermolnar.net/sichuan-jiuzhaigou-huanglong/

  5. https://petermolnar.net/sichuan-mount-quingcheng/



Encourage creation!

If this entry helped you, or you simply liked it, leave a tip.

Replies

  1. from https://norahamucska.eu/qingcheng-shan-front-mountain/
    https://norahamucska.eu/qingcheng-shan-front-mountain/