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Thread: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

  1. #1

    Question Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Will be going on a 10-day packaged trip to Sichuan targeting end of Oct to early Nov by ASA Travel (good or not har? )
    Was hoping to go free n' easy but travel buddy wants follow tour then so be it.


    Itinerary as follows:

    Day 1: Chengdu -> Maoxian
    Day 2: Maoxian -> Minjiang Gorge Scenery -> JiuZhaiGou
    Day 3: JiuZhaiGou
    Day 4: JiuZhaiGou -> Huanglong / Munigou -> Maoxian
    Day 5: Maoxian -> Leshan -> Mt Emei
    Day 6: Mt Emei -> Meishan
    Day 7: Meishan -> Hailuogou
    Day 8: Hailuogou Scenic Area -> Ya'an
    Day 9: Ya'an -> Chengdu
    Day 10: Chengdu -> Home

    Intend to bring along:
    - 6D + extra batteries
    - 8-15 f/4 fisheye
    - 16-35 II f/2.8
    - 24-105 f/4
    - 70-300 VC f/4-5.6 ( ???)
    - CPL, ND10 and lots of memory cards
    - Sirui N2204 tripod + bag

    Already did a search here, found this thread made by another fellow member and on the web but like further info on the following:

    1) Any must-use for the 70-300mm? Like Panda Research Base or Leshan Buddha, etc? Otherwise I could do with 700g+ weight saving.
    2) A bit apprehensive about the tripod. Afraid might not have chance to use it since packaged tour and the weight will kill me if there's lots of climbing. Any comments? It's another 1.5kg.
    3) Understand traveling within JZG is via internal buses so not that much trekking. How about Emei and Leshan?
    4) If anyone's been trekking to Nepal, how the comparison (to say, Poon Hill trek)? In terms of ground/path conditions? I don't have a porter and guide to carry my barang this time. If the routes tends to be slippery and uneven, gotta get better shoes coz mine tends to lose grip when wet.
    5) Any chances of milky way photography? I am guessing 99.5% not.
    6) Anything special things to look out for?

    Hopefully not as crowded since this is towards the end of the peak season...

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    I understand it is hard to resist but:

    1. Received wisdom is to go "light" on equipment when on a packaged tour.
    2. Shoes need to grip regardless.

    Enjoy yourself and the company of your travel companion first.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Hi Camlnit

    I think this package rather interesting. Cause of Hailuoguo. I signed up for the package leaving on 23 Oct .

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Daoyin,

    Haha... very much aware but haven't reach the state of enlightenment on going "light". Seems to be going in the opposite direction instead! Maybe I'll have to pick specific lens for specific parts of the trip and leave the rest in the hotel.

    maverickh,

    I am most likely leaving one week later than yours. Do post up some pics after you get back. Can see what are the parts that's missed out.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Hi Camlnit,

    you may want to check if the leaves are still red then .

    Too early , leaves are still green. too late, botak . hahaha According to the guy from ASA tour agency , the 3rd week of Oct is the best time to go .

  6. #6

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    maverickh,

    My travel buddy is not free before that. End October is the earliest date. It's quite a risk since if winter arrives early, even Huanglong will be closed off, not to say missing the change in season. A few other agencies I've checked defaults to ending all Huanglong visits by 31 October. Easier for planning, I guess. After reading the fine print, I inquired and realized that ASA actually allows you to extend your tour beyond the standard package up to max 14 days from arrival date. Gotta pay for the extra days, of course and subject to conditions like flight availability. Now I am thinking whether to extend and hang around in Chengdu for another one or two more days, as well as narrowing down which lenses to bring along at various parts of the trip.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Following a tour group, (for me), don't have so much time to change lens. Therefore, bring what you need only. I was in Beijing, totally no time for photography, just snap and go type. So, from my own experience, is best to just mount a 16-35 (or 24-70) and then, use a good compact (reasonable zoom) for zooming in. Having a DSLR with a big lens hard to move around in tour group as those area also tourist attraction. Anyway, good luck on your trip and hopes to see a lot of good photos.
    Only Sony device mostly, haha!

  8. #8
    Senior Member shierwin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by CamInit View Post
    Daoyin,

    Haha... very much aware but haven't reach the state of enlightenment on going "light". Seems to be going in the opposite direction instead! Maybe I'll have to pick specific lens for specific parts of the trip and leave the rest in the hotel.

    maverickh,

    I am most likely leaving one week later than yours. Do post up some pics after you get back. Can see what are the parts that's missed out.

    Probably you will not have the luxury to leave lenses in the hotel. Most tours change hotels almost every day.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    travel light - tripod is pretty much useless, leave it at home. maybe you can take along a monopod.
    CPL - to cut reflection on water
    huanglong - the air is very thin up there, one of the guy i travelled with got real sick from hypoxia, go easy. he took some cina medicine in a glass tube, seems to help..

    i took along olympus em5 and 12/35 was on the body 99% of the time, 1% was i was trying to shoot the trout in the lake so i switch to the 35/100. pm me if you want to see my facebook album...

    SC
    canon, nikon, sony, panasonic, olympus cameras

  10. #10

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by CamInit View Post
    Will be going on a 10-day packaged trip to Sichuan targeting end of Oct to early Nov by ASA Travel (good or not har? )
    Was hoping to go free n' easy but travel buddy wants follow tour then so be it.


    Itinerary as follows:

    Day 1: Chengdu -> Maoxian
    Day 2: Maoxian -> Minjiang Gorge Scenery -> JiuZhaiGou
    Day 3: JiuZhaiGou
    Day 4: JiuZhaiGou -> Huanglong / Munigou -> Maoxian
    Day 5: Maoxian -> Leshan -> Mt Emei
    Day 6: Mt Emei -> Meishan
    Day 7: Meishan -> Hailuogou
    Day 8: Hailuogou Scenic Area -> Ya'an
    Day 9: Ya'an -> Chengdu
    Day 10: Chengdu -> Home

    Intend to bring along:
    - 6D + extra batteries
    - 8-15 f/4 fisheye
    - 16-35 II f/2.8
    - 24-105 f/4
    - 70-300 VC f/4-5.6 ( ???)
    - CPL, ND10 and lots of memory cards
    - Sirui N2204 tripod + bag

    Already did a search here, found this thread made by another fellow member and on the web but like further info on the following:

    1) Any must-use for the 70-300mm? Like Panda Research Base or Leshan Buddha, etc? Otherwise I could do with 700g+ weight saving.
    2) A bit apprehensive about the tripod. Afraid might not have chance to use it since packaged tour and the weight will kill me if there's lots of climbing. Any comments? It's another 1.5kg.
    3) Understand traveling within JZG is via internal buses so not that much trekking. How about Emei and Leshan?
    4) If anyone's been trekking to Nepal, how the comparison (to say, Poon Hill trek)? In terms of ground/path conditions? I don't have a porter and guide to carry my barang this time. If the routes tends to be slippery and uneven, gotta get better shoes coz mine tends to lose grip when wet.
    5) Any chances of milky way photography? I am guessing 99.5% not.
    6) Anything special things to look out for?

    Hopefully not as crowded since this is towards the end of the peak season...

    Thanks!
    Hi CamInit,

    I went to JZG last year on package tour too. I'll try to answer your questions base on my personal opinion.

    1)Zoom lens is useful for shooting stage show, like 'Bian Lian' and like what you had mentioned, pandas at Panda Research Base.

    2)You need tripod if you want to slow down the shutter speed to have a silky feel of the waterfall. Remember also to bring ND filter.

    3)For JZG, our package does not include the internal bus. We were adviced to get one by our tour guide. And fortunately we did as we could see the locals pushing and rushing just to board the free shuttle bus.
    Mt Emei involved some some climbing and taking of cable car.
    For Leshan, we took a boat towards the Big Buddha. Took photos from the boat and headed back to the jetty. So no climbing involved.

    4)The more challenging climb is Huanglong. Due to high altitude, we started to pant even before climbing.

    5)Sorry I am not into this so I'm afraid I can't answer your question.

    6)Bring along Maggi Mee and can food if you are the choosy type as the food may not be suitable to you. That was what happen to most of my tour group members and I. We can't get use to their food. The best meal I had was white rice with can food which one of my tour member brought.

    Hope that answered your questions.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Hi CamInit,

    I was on a similar tour package by another travel agency last November, I guess those are the places they cover in that area. I am using a 40d (1.6crop), I brought along 10-22, 24-70 2.8L, 70-200 4L + S90 + goPro during that trip. I'm an amateur photographer & only bring my gears out once or twice a year to log my holidays with the family.

    1) Any must-use for the 70-300mm? Like Panda Research Base or Leshan Buddha, etc? Otherwise I could do with 700g+ weight saving.
    Panda Research Base: The baby pandas are indoors & with a glass in between with all the smudges from faces & hands, soft lighting from the fluorescent lamps, you gotta have a steady hand, some luck to fight for some space to take some good pictures. I guess your 16-35 will work good there. As for the bigger guys on the outside, they're chewing bamboos out in the open & your 70-300mm will come in handy, can stand further behind away from the hogging crowds at the front railing.
    Leshan Buddha: My trip only allow me to take the photos on a ferry & the clear space up in the front of the ferry was occupied by their "in house" photographer charging 25 or 50 rmb per shot. The rest of the area was crowded with our tour group folks + local tourists. Your 16-35 will come in handy here, not sure about 70-300 as I think there's nothing much to take other than the big Buddha.


    2) A bit apprehensive about the tripod. Afraid might not have chance to use it since packaged tour and the weight will kill me if there's lots of climbing. Any comments? It's another 1.5kg.
    Very little chance to use the tripod on a package tour but if you really wanna bring it along, in a package tour, you can always leave some of your stuffs in the bus.

    3) Understand traveling within JZG is via internal buses so not that much trekking. How about Emei and Leshan?
    Emei was a shag climb, with monkeys along the way, these monkeys are of much bigger build than those Singapore ones,you gotta be careful with your loose gears, I have witness them took off with mobile phones, plastic bags of souvenirs, I was at Emei in mid November & there were traces of snow & you gotta wear them metal spikes that you tie to your shoes to get a grip. No comment on Leshan as I was only on the ferry.

    4) If anyone's been trekking to Nepal, how the comparison (to say, Poon Hill trek)? In terms of ground/path conditions? I don't have a porter and guide to carry my barang this time. If the routes tends to be slippery and uneven, gotta get better shoes coz mine tends to lose grip when wet.
    No need worry about bad grounds as in a package group, most folks going there are in their 55-70ish, tour agency won't take the risk.

    5) Any chances of milky way photography? I am guessing 99.5% not.
    No idea

    6) Anything special things to look out for?
    You can actually hug a panda, if you "donate", you won't find much details online as I think the research center don't want to be seen using "this" as a money making tool. From what I understand is that, if you make this donation, the folks in there will try to arrange for a young panda to have a close up session with you. It's a no guarantee thing as told by the local guide but they only tell you so that when the panda comes out you'll feel like damn special like that but as I have quite a number of friends who had donated previously, I think it's a 100% "bao hug" panda after the donation. Get a normal point & shoot camera to pass it to the panda helpers whom will help you take the photos or video, as only the donor are allowed to go into the "hugging" area.

    Joining a package tour, you'll find yourself ending up in some "china government related" place for you to purchase: SILK, TEA, JADES, CHINESE MEDICINE, some folks believe they are real, some folks not, it's up to you. They come up with some stories, some high ranking government official buy from there, some boss comes in say got fate to meet you guys & such, high Tibet master trying to feel your pulse, break the tour group up into smaller groups & do the psycho, free foot massage, trying to exchange your $$$ for their wares, some stories are damn convincing...

    Hopefully not as crowded since this is towards the end of the peak season...
    It won't be as crowded as their peak season but then there will still be a lot of tourists in the area...
    Last edited by deadrat; 12th October 2013 at 12:19 AM. Reason: Typo

  12. #12

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Hi Camlnit,

    I went with ASA to JZG + Huanglong + Mt EM in early Oct 2009, this agency not bad…at least for their itinerary & hotel choice.
    However, it still depend on the tour group…good tour mates make good tour experience!
    I wasn't into DSLR at that moment, but looking at your gear list, u will not have time to change gear & do setup in a packaged tour imo.
    Tour pace in China is fast, faster, fastest! Hahaaaa…

    Answering to your Qs:
    1) Personally i won't bring this lens, 24-105 is good enough for panda. They are moving in fenced up area…not very big. Save the weight.
    Was taking boat ride to see Leshan Buddha, so std zoom or wide angle will do, unless u wanna take a close-up of the Buddha details.
    For those stage performance, i will still stick to 24-105. U can move nearer to stage if can't reach at max...
    2) I'm pretty sure u won't have time to use. For me, i bring (other China tours) & leave it in luggage…use when have free own time at night.
    If staying in InterContinental Jiuzhai Paradise Resort, this hotel have something to offer for photo, but don't have too high expectations for their rooms.
    3) Internal bus from point to point only, at certain point, still need to trek up & down. Depend how yr tour guide brings u.
    For Ermei, need climb half an hr, take cable car, then another 20 mins to golden summit. Back the same way. Beware of fierce monkeys.
    I took cable car up Huanglong & trek down all the way…not easy as well cos JZG, Huanglong & Mt Ermei altitude highest at >3000m…down is siong, up is very siong!
    (with my little compact…ok, me not fit…hahahaaa)
    4) Ground conditions definitely better than Nepal, just pray it don't rain. Raining halfway at JZG for me and drizzling at Ermei.
    Many steps, some no hand rails (back in 2009, now not sure). Tourists also many, some pushing may be unavoidable.
    Dunno if it's yr 1st time in China, u need to "fight" or "push" for a place for photos. China culture huh! Gentleman is a no no...
    5) No comments.
    6) Make sure u go NuoRiLang Waterfall in JZG, cos my tour guide wanted to bring us shopping and wanted to skip it to save time. I asked to go. Die die must go... For the silky look water, unless ur really very fit and can setup with thunder speed, else no point bringing yr tripod which i know it's a pity.
    Make sure u go up till 黄龙古寺, else no point gg. Sunblock & cap is a MUST there! UV super strong esp in noon at 3900m high. Our group was lucky to have enough time gg up there, Chan bro grp we met no time and they were disappointed. If u hv been to Nepal, guess u shld not have problems with high altitude, cos 1 aunty got giddy when up there…cmi then go back down. Huanglong provide free oxygen, if no problem here, then others are well. If u have motion sickness, pls bring medication cos road is bumpy up Huanglong and curvy bus route in JZG & can't rem for Ermei. May have shopping time at night in Chengdu (there's a shopping street nearby my hotel), can do night street photography then. If they propose optional for
    fungus steamboat @ 钦善哉, go for it! Super delicious!!!

    Last but not least, these are my experience at that time.
    Please make yr own judgement ya! Enjoy yr trip!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc


    Thanks for the info! Based on the feedback generously provided by you folks, here's my current planning:

    I'll be carrying Tamrac Velocity 5x hip/sling pack (EOL product and wearing out, maybe I'll get the 6z which is lighter) with additional accessory lens & filter pouches. Quick access to camera on the go and changing lens shouldn't be a problem. Tripod in a separate bag. 99% of my shooting style is in ultra-wide and fisheye. Very, very rarely exceeds 100mm.

    Tentative loadout:

    8-15 16-35 24-105 70-300 Filters Tripod
    1) JiuZhaiGou Y Y - - Y ???
    2) Huanglong/Munigou Y Y - - Y -
    3) Leshan (cruise) Y Y Y Y - -
    4) Mt Emei Y Y - - Y -
    5) Hailuogou Y Y - - Y ???
    6) Towns/streets Y Y Y Y - -
    7) Giant Panda Centre Y Y Y Y - -

    Countdown: 2 more weeks
    Keep the comments coming in!

  14. #14

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Gosh, that's very heavy...

    I would rather bring one lens usually 35/1.8 and a flash and use what I have. ISO all up high high one and don't care if too short or far distance.
    If it is not tour then it would be a totally different case. To me going tour are supposed to enjoy touring, not really on shooting (perhaps family snapshot I believe).

  15. #15

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    been to all this place.
    but for hailougao, if you are going to the see the ice, pease carry light.
    as you may need to do some walking up slope.
    if will be tiring as the air is thin.

    panda centre is quite easy and cheap as it not far from chengdu town.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by princecharming View Post
    been to all this place.
    but for hailougao, if you are going to the see the ice, pease carry light.
    as you may need to do some walking up slope.
    if will be tiring as the air is thin.

    panda centre is quite easy and cheap as it not far from chengdu town.
    this are the place that i am planning to go this december


  17. #17

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc



    this one will be more tough

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    May I ask where is this place and why will it be more tough?

  19. #19

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Mount gongga it above need to track and hike up the mountains high is around 4xxx m above sea level. It near hailuogou

  20. #20

    Default Re: Sichuan - JiuZhaiGou 九寨沟, Leshan 乐山, Mt Emei 峨嵋山, etc

    Huangshan was a very tough climb, worst than emei Shan

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