After Jiuzhaigou, Sanna and I headed to Songpan, a small town in Sichuan, where we hoped to join a horse-trek. Unfortunately, the recent rainy weather meant that the trails were muddy and unsuitable for horseback riding. Although we were slightly disappointed, we soon realized that there is so much more to explore in this little village.
Songpan Ancient Town
Songpan has one of the largest “old towns” that I have ever visited in China! The old town area is enclosed by these huge walls. Like many Chinese “old towns”, Songpan old town is reminiscent of traditional Chinese life, but in actuality more of a tourist trap than anything else. Still, it’s a great place to walk around, enjoy some local snacks, and pick up souvenirs.
We returned to our hostel. Sanna wasn’t feeling too well, so I decided to explore the surrounding area on my own. The hostel owner encouraged me to hike up the mountain behind the hostel to look for yak, so I did just that.
Unfortunately, the yak herd had already moved on, so I didn’t get to see them. 😦 They did, however, leave me lots of presents on the ground. Thanks yak!
The day was almost over, but there was one more thing about Songpan that I was curious about. I remembered passing brilliant fields of lavender on the bus ride here, but when I searched for “Lavender fields in Songpan”, nothing came up. I wanted to know if the lavender fields were open to the public, whether or not there was an admissions fee, or even if these lavender fields actually existed or not. Did I imagine them? When you think of lavender, you don’t exactly picture China, so I was pretty confused. The fact that there was virtually no information on the internet about any lavender fields in the area didn’t help much.
Knowing that I only had one day in Songpan, I decided to just go for it. I knew I would regret it if I let this go without an investigation! I searched up how to say “lavender” in Chinese, approached a taxi driver, and asked him to take me to see them.
We got there just in time – the sun was setting, but I made the last few rays of sunlight count! Frolicking in the vast expanse of purple definitely makes my list of top 5 memorable China experiences because it was such an unexpected treat. I didn’t even get to see lavender fields when I was studying abroad a few years ago in the south of France!
While exiting the lavender field in the taxi, a man approached our car. He and the driver got into a yelling match, which ended with my driver angrily driving off. It turns out that the lavender fields weren’t exactly open to the public per se, so the man demanded an entrance fee, which the driver refused to let me pay. Oops! (Shoutout to my taxi driver for having my back!)
Songpan was my last stop on my travels in Sichuan, China. Sichuan is a beautiful province with breathtaking natural wonders, unique culture, and really spicy food (2spicy4me). I’m glad to have gone and can’t wait to visit again!