Shangri la, Yunnan

Shangri la does not exist. Let’s start at the beginning: Shangri la is an imaginary paradisiac place invented in the novel “Lost Horizon” written by James Hilton in 1933.

Then China renamed Zhongdian to Shangri-La in 2001 to promote tourism, due to its similarity with the Shangri-La or the book.

Today’s Shangri-La is very close to Tibet, and the dominant ethnic group is actually Tibetans.

The road to Shangri-La

The Yangtze river


A village along the road – you can see a nice statue to remind people of the help brought by the Red Army to the peasants:G86C3659 G86C3665

Snakes and Alligators – real but driedG86C3670

In this country, only women work, old and young alikeG86C3671 G86C3683 G86C3687

Tiger Leaping GorgesG86C3693

The Ancient Silk road – you can see it carved in the mountain flanks, caravans used to use this “road” to carry precious goods.


Furious waters – think about the size of a human being on the bridge in comparison.


Approaching Shangri-La – you can still see the 5,500m high Jade Dragon Snow Mountain  in the background.G86C3749 G86C3755

A Stupa with prayer flagsG86C3787

Shangri-La Monastery

Prayer flags bordering the lake close to Shangri La monastery



The Tibetan Monastery of Shangri LaG86C3831 G86C3839

Life in Shangri-La

Visiting a Tibetan family: the great grandmother and the little one – most people live in traditional rural houses like this organized in 3 parts: one kitchen, one living place, one place for the horses.

The government is actually giving solar panels to all families in an effort to raise their standard of living (hot water, cell phone, TV…) but not compromise the environment – a very good initiative, i just wish we had the same in HK and Europe…

Every family also has a photo of Dalai Lama. Knowing how popular he is with Chinese government this is actually surprising.


Traditional fireplace – you can see the beds around for sleeping and eating.


Grand Ma is preparing some Salted Yak Butter Tea for me. And yes she has a cell phone and watches TV.


The local Buddhist Temple: very colorful, on top you can see the 2 deers watching over Buddha in his 6 years meditation. Together with Tibetan prayer flags incense filled tripod show a mix of different influences.

G86C3897 G86C3899

National Park: very protected, you cannot visit it outside of the tracks, and you have to be driven around in government buses.G86C3958 G86C3996

Nixi village black pottery specialty:


The “oven” where bigger pieces are baked:G86C4189 G86C4200

Shangri La town: reminiscent of the Alps actually, except for the Chinese/Sanskrit writing.G86C4229

Rural Lifestyle, traditional costumes with the pink kind of hat.G86C4296


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