Its cold. So cold.
Why didn’t I wear more clothes? I thought the bus would be heated, that’s why. The window. I can’t see through it. Icy veins run from sill-to-sill. What’s on the other side?
I peer over the headrests, the heads, in front of me (Joyce is curled into a ball asleep by my side, by the aisle). The bus is winding its way up a mountain road. Swirls of snow dance before the monotony of the windscreen wipers. Its so light, so wispy, the lightest of breezes send the snow into small and delicate whirlpools over and above the tarmac.
We continue to drive. The drab landscape outside of grey skies and brown roadsides has morphed into something so much more beautiful and, yet at the same time, so much more deadly.
Its cold. The day is moving on and getting colder. It may just be touching 1 degree. The weatherman said it may get down to -15 degrees today. So. A guess. Its minus something.
The bus presses on through the whiteout.
Eventually we top the mountain and start to fall into another valley. A valley in the north of Sichuan. A valley some 11 hours away from Chengdu. We are approaching Jiuzhaigou.
It is a dreamworld on this world. It is magical for 4 seasons every year, no matter the year. We arrived in winter to a wonderland unmatched. And beyond this to a place shrouded in the mists of legend.
A legend that goes a little something like this…
Long ago – in a time almost forgotten by the men of this world – there dwelt a deity of the mountain. Dago. He strode across his mountain kingdom undisturbed, unfretted by the men who walked and lived a fragile live on the slopes of his domain.
He was benevolent and cared for his kingdom and the animals who he had nurtured to call this place their home. And yet something was missing. A hole in his heart that nothing on the earth could quite fill.
But this was not a time when one deity lived in the sky, on the land or in the sea alone with mere men. This was the time of deities, and there was one – the goddess Semo – who graced Dago’s land on occasion. She filled that hole in his heart.
He would have her. Together he and her could ensure the world never became polluted and that Gaea lived on pure. Untainted.
To show his affection he worked day and night for centuries forging and reforming a mirror of unparalleled proportion. A mirror cast from the very world itself. From the winds and clouds that brought two of the purest elements – water and air – to all life.
Unfortunately, not all deities are pure and the devil of this world saw fit to break this to-be Union and destroy the gift that would seal Semo’s heart to Dago.
The mirror that broke – never to be again created, never again to be seen whole – fell from the heaven in 108 pieces. The pieces fell like spears thrown to the ground in anger. Yet the pieces glinted in the sun like shards of pure diamond.
Like rolling thunder, unheard of again since that time, they struck the ground in one valley. Within an instant the spell that bound the elements together was broken. Where the spears fell, still turquoise waters stood in their place.
108 turquoise gems in a valley full of life.
Semo was heartbroken but knew now that the union could never be. The devil would never allow it. Yet her heart was unable to accept defeat at the demons malicious meddling.
She flew from the heavens to see the remains of her mirror. The sight struck her and she cried. She would make what the demon had helped to create into a living, breathing wonder on this world.
She would turn his evil deeds into goodness for millennia to come.
So, as she flew across the valley she breathed sweetly and delicately on the lakes. With each caress of her breath the water rolled and roiled and waterfalls cascaded over and over through the verdant valley.
And the separate lakes became one living wonder.
Dago and Semo still look upon this land with happy hearts. The union that could never be was so rich in heart that it could also not be stopped.
This valley marks the happiness in their hearts.
And the devil? Well, he still plots and schemes…