Lijiang - Shangrila

December 2013




"Nobody attempts Tibet in Winter"





There are so many creature comforts in this UNESCO city, termed the "Venice of the East".
We were so worn out by the night we reached Lijiang. But behold, there it was, a beautiful neon-lit ancient town by the river. It was
like a medieval Chinese waterfront town you see off those pugilistic drama series except there were christmas lights laced all over.

Despite the obvious touristy kitsch, we found a comfortable but pricey hotel for the night. Most hotels were built into the vacated homes
of the traditional denizens - the Na'xi people. I wonder how they feel - the Chinese have turned their traditional homeland into a new Malacca -
a place devoid of its spirituality. I am going to be slightly critical here - but the McDonalds outlet located off the main street, the influx of mainlanders
selling massed produced souvenirs, the large number of Chinese Hippies playing Tibetan drums in a Na'xi ancient town and the endless endless rows
of shops catering to the modern Chinese tourists do nothing to preserve its authenticity.




The town itself is quite a walk. There are trails that will lead you high above 3200 metres but the town mostly hovers at around
2500 metres above sea level. This makes Lijiang a perfect stopover to acclimatize before a taxing journy north.



We finally decided to move on with our trip into Shangri-La, the first step into one of the most remote regions in China.



The trip to Shangri-La would take us more than 6 hours through quiet country roads and mountain passes, but nothing quite as
deadly and thrilling as the journey beyond.


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editor's note:

the photographs in this series are either digital (pentax k30, sigma 35/1.4, DFA 50/2.8, Tamron 10-24)
or analogue (Pentax ME Super, K50/1.4, assorted films including portras, provia, profotoxl)


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