Wednesday, August 6, 2014

China trip 5 - Shangrila

We went up from Lijiang to Shangrila, passing through the Tiger Leaping Gorge area. I had read a lot about the two-day hike through the gorge but we decided it would be too difficult with the kids. The Chinese advice was that it was too dangerous and not worth visiting if we were from the US where there are a lot of canyons. So we drove to the main overlook of the Tiger Leaping Stone with the rest of the tourist masses. The Jinsha River flows violently through this part of the gorge. It's spectacular.

Shangrila used to be Zhongdian but they renamed the town to turn it into a tourist destination. Many Tibetans live along the road to Shangrila.

Some houses had one or three flags on their roofs. Our driver Mr. Chen explained that the flags signified that a 'living Buddha' had come from that home. A 'living Buddha' was someone who had been identified as a Lama (Buddhist priest). The home in this picture has one flag.

The circumference of the large round timbers that make up the front of the house signify the wealth of the family. Rich families can afford bigger timbers. Apparently the forests here cannot be cut down because the government is trying to reforest the land, so large timbers are rare and expensive.

There are wind farms along the road between Kunming and Shangrila. Mr Chen said they had been installed last year.

The old town of Shangrila was unfortunately burnt down earlier this year in a big fire. We stayed just on the edge of the fire zone. Somehow, the only thing that survived the fire was the toilet:

Leo on a yak below the giant prayer wheel:

Had a great time horseback riding. Leo and I even got to gallop, which was exciting.

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