Shangri-La (Zhongdian), Yunnan, China

[ 0 ] September 22, 2012 |

In the very northwestern tip of the Yunnan province, bordering Tibet is Shangri-La or Zhongdian, Yunnan, China. This area is primarily a Tibetan county. With very strict regulations and rules to enter Tibet, this was as close as we were getting.

Shangri-La is located at an altitude of 3,200 meters and the climate is much cooler than other cities in the region, especially at night. Some people bring oxygen for quick trips up, but we were fine. Rather isolated and undeveloped, this town provided an authentic glimpse into traditional Tibetan life. Locals wearing ethnic attire went about about their daily lives around us.

Local Women in Shangri-La, Yunnan, China

On a day bus to the city we were able to see the countryside as we approached Old Town. The countryside is completely Tibetan. Numerous traditional large Tibetan Houses and wooden grain drying platforms litter the fields and foothills. The town is a split of Tibetan and ethnic Han inhabitants.

Tibetan Countryside near Shangri-La

In contrast to Lijiang, there are hardly any tourists in this part of China, yet. (Most tourists in any part of China are also Chinese.) The Old Town is not yet overly developed and the deeper in you go down a cobblestone street, or up a hidden path the more rustic things become. Buildings are crafted in ways more suited to cold weather.

Streets of Shangri-La Old Town

Evening in Shangri-La

Dressed in layers, we strolled around town and in many ways felt like we were in an entirely different county. A temple at the top of the hill watches over the town and lanterns set the mood. We joined in the nightly dancing in the square where locals of all ages gather and dance choreographed moves to traditional music for at least an hour each night. Much like a line dance, but conducted in a large circle and in semi-slow flowing motions we were able to follow the movements enough to blend in. The large dancing circle was surrounded with food vendors preparing local eats.

Hilltop Temple

Pat Dancing with Locals in the Nightly Dance Circle

More Local Nightly Dance Circle

Ehtnic Women Preparing Food

Food Vendors in the Square

Night Life in Shangri-La

As the night drew to a end, we found a cozy table at a restaurant on the balcony of a restored Tibetan house. For dinner we experimented with traditional Tibetan food and Yunnan specialties. We enjoyed Naxi bread and yak cheese, yak meat dumplings and delicious veggies.

Tibetan- Yunnan Feast

We stayed at a guesthouse in Old Town. Hidden down an alley, up a hill, behind a wooden gate, in a room located with others around a courtyard, our room was made entirely of timber ceiling to floor. With piles of thick blankets on our bed we enjoyed our night in Shangri-La.



Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Alison's Blog, Blog, China, Destinations, Featured Posts

Leave a Reply