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Published: July 12th 2011
Shangri La (Zhongdian) maybe Diqing
Who knows where we really are. The town’s name was changed to Shangri La in 2001 to try and tap into the tourist trade. Anyway we are a long way from anywhere on a plateau, snuggled between mountains on the border with Tibet.
The Tibetan influence is very strong here though it is obvious who is in charge and it stems from Beijing. A massive amount of money is being spent. To increase the Chinese tourist trade and appease the locals.
We are staying in the old town which has the echoes of culture and tradition slowly being eroded by modernization. Traditional clothed women walk the streets while sports stores selling Nike overlap.
The locals know they need the money but don’t want to lose their roots.
Shangri La is unsure who it is and where it belongs. Walking around the Museum it is obvious. This is a piece under one of the pictures.
Fired on by unconqueable, fearless revolutionary spirit and with the support of local ethnic minorities the Reds completed the most difficult and dangerous part of the Long March
Anyway enough of the politics this is a most interesting town. Quite
small in Chinese standards. It has a very strong Buddhist influence. Tibetan prayer flags are fluttering everywhere. A huge prayer wheel looks over the town. Ganden Sumtseling Gompa Monastery, housing 600 hundred practising monks sits above it all. Beautifully adorned it is quite a structure. Gift shops everywhere spoil the realism a bit.
It is quite dry at the moment a few intermittent showers but nothing a umbrella won’t fix. ( an umbrella is an essential piece of one’ travelling attire) good for the travellers bad for the farmers.
Kathy is suffering badly from attitude sickness, we are all breathless after a short walk but she really is in trouble. No Mount Everest for her I’m afraid.
The first day I organised a trip to a lake in the wilderness. A landcruiser arrived to pick us up. A hour was all it was suppose to take but 2.5 hours later and many confused looks on our drivers face we reached a pool of water about the size of Harden ‘s swimming pool. The drive certainly was worth it though. We wound along through Fir forests, past tiny villages, through fields of wildflowers, Yaks grazing on the side of the road,
did not pass one vehicle on the way. Climbing all the way to over 4000 metres. There was supposedly a beautiful mountain in the distance but it was raining too much to tell. Did Kathy the world of good.
Returning back to Shangri La we ate hot pot for lunch at a very local restaurant. The local speciality.
A long tubular pipe with hot coals in the middle sitting the middle of a bowl of steaming water filled with Yak, pork and chicken meat bones. Bowls of chillies, peppers and heaps of other types of condiments to dip your meat in. Add Tibetan bread, tea and wine and wow! What a feed. Thomas said he would prefer KFC but what the hell. When in Rome?
Visited the Monastery. Kathy did her usual Monk chasing, bought some worry beads which should be useful for the farming game. Ate some dinner and retired for heavy breathing night.
Woke to a beautiful sunny day. Natarhsa Thomas and myself headed off for a walk around of the old town have left Kathy behind to relax and suck on her oxygen bottle. Very few tourists about, the old town has been restored beautifully., carved woodwork,
winding streets of cobblestone. Visited the museum, temple and massive prayer wheel which stands about 50 metres high 10 metres wide, shiny gold in colour pulled around by the locals we joined in for a couple of laps.
Ate some lovely dinner at the Lhasa restaurant and headed to bed for our early flight to Hong Kong tomorrow.
Shangri La maybe not but what an experience certainly makes one ponder his existence.
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