Yading was one of the those places we heard about only after traveling through China and doing some extensive research about the region. It does not get mentioned in the same sentence as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Jiuzhaigou or Huangshan when you talk about China’s big ticket items. It has however been touted as the real Shangri-la of China by locals, deemed a beautiful untouched paradise likened to utopia. Yading is for travelers looking to go a bit off the beaten path. Best of all, Yading is less touristy and crowded due to its location in the remote parts of Western Sichuan. We were game.
A lot of research and digging led us to more information about this paradise. It is hard to reach (averaging 10-12 hour bus rides on unpaved mountainous roads) and the towns close to Yading have poor amenities. Unless we were willing to spend a bomb on flight tickets or private drivers, public buses were the only way to go. A little bit daunted, we went ahead with our planning into Western Sichuan. We braced ourselves for the horrendous bus rides and sure enough, they delivered. I swore never to take another long bus ride again in China after three 10 hour bus rides to get into and out of the region. Did I mention that the roads were bumpy and winding and that passengers smoked and puked onboard? *shudder*
But the payoffs? There was so much we saw that could last us a lifetime. This region is rich in Tibetan culture and it proffered us a taste of Tibet before we ventured further west of China. Yading was definitely one of the highlights. At an altitude of 4400 meters, Yading’s scenery was breathtaking. Snow dusted mountains, lush green pastures and the clearest lakes and rivers you can possibly imagine. Add to that colourful prayer flags strung haphazardly around rocks and stupas, you get Yading in all its glory and exoticism.
Though the hike was strenuous due to thin air, we managed to see one of the many lakes in the reserve. The clouds were also kind enough to part a few times during the day to reveal majestic peaks.
Yading is fast becoming the chinese tourists’ premier holiday destination. When we were there we could see hotels being built and roads being developed. It will no doubt be more accessible in the future, but like all the other major sights, once developed, Yading will become touristy and crowded. I’m only thankful I got to see it now while it is still considerably ‘untouched’.