Shangri-La and onwards – Mike

30th May 2015:

Shangri – La was being built while we watched and onwards to a town was called Xiangcheng. Mike . 30 May 2015

Yesterday the 29 May we drove from Lijang to Shangri – La via Tiger Leaping Gouge…

The town / city has re named itself Shangri – La — real name is Jaintang. .. It’s the first major town / city in the Tibetan part of China. And as we drove up the Mountain from Tiger Leaping Gorge the distinct change in culture emerged. The architecture changed, the landscape …. Now on a plateau between the higher mountain ranges around. The Tibetan influence is very strong , but you can see the massive influence of Chinese investment. For example a major university and expansion of town to become a city.

But again ahead of myself …. The drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge was through a hilly / mountain country …. A few more tunnels and then of the toll way and not to high way. …good quality road … A fare few trucks and buses and some tight curves but no drama, although the climbing is always a challenge for Mollie. We are now at 3300 m and we are all puffing a little . … So it is understandable … Both cars are running rich with lower oxygen air.

Tiger Leaping Gorge …. A tourist Mecca (again) …lots of people, but well set up. Great views and lots of stairs to get down to the rivers edge … and quite inspiring to watch 1800m3 / sec travel through the narrow section only around 20 metres wide. That is lot of water …. As the Yanksee River heads toward the massive dam structure being built about 1000 km further along its path. Well worth a visit.

And then arrive at Shangri La …. We had time for nice walk around before dinner. … Wandered up towards the stupa and temple, overlooking the town. Little did we know we would be walking through a construction site. Apparently 2/3 of the old town was damage by a fire . We saw no evidence of the fire, just an amazing amount of construction. We wandered into one site. It had an old façade, of ornate wood work but the rest seemed to new, or being renovated. There where a bunch of guys cutting timber for various parts of the renovation and there was a computerised routing machine cutting out large panels of ornate patterned timbers for the decorative parts of the renovation. This was quite late on Friday afternoon and they seemed to working well into the evening.

We found our way through the construction sites up the back entrance to the stupa and found an amazing cylindrical structure about 3 stories tall which you can actually turn if get about 5 or 6 people pulling on the ropes. A good view of Shangri La … Another expanding city , based around the tourism value of the old town and the nearby national park with high country trekking. Then a little higher on the hill the temple. One of the most impressive we have visited. Inspiring stuff. No picture inside …

And then Pete became a movie star …we happened upon a film crew interviewing locals in traditional cloths and some how Peter got the job to be interviewed … It was a big job too !!!! A pretty young lady interviewer asked him to make the sound of a Crow and tweet like a little bird. ….. One of the funniest things I have seen for good while.

We now call him the movie star  !!!

Then dinner …as this is Yak country …Gerry our guide hunted out a locals restaurant for a Yak Hot pot. …very tasty.

Then … In the morning we left about 9:30 / 10:00 after the cars where washed next door to where we stayed ….this was actually a big mistake. As we ended up with a 9 hour drive on the worst roads we have faced in China … The first few km where fine … But the road gradually deteriorated . Our destination about 300km away and we choose a longer route as it was supposed to be better. … There has been land slips and earth quake damage and the road was poor , terrible to hardly a road. We traveled along the Yangtse river and or tributaries up and down mountains and must have done about 1000 switch backs for the day. Shangri La is at 3300m elevation. Or destination is at 2840m. We thought that’s a piece of cake …down hill. But we travelled over two major ridges and down the other side ( plus more ). We climbed to 3800 m and down and up to 4150m before a major decent to 2840 m. The town was called Xiangcheng.

Every one is stuffed … And we could not find the preferred hotel, but fond another and then a beer , dinner and rest.

We have been on the road for 28 days ….

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