Without Google, which is blocked in China, it is harder for me to recheck logistics and facts. But I’ll give it a try, and edit when I get back home if there is a real error.
They say that Shangri-La is where Tibet really starts. The city lies in far western China, not really far from the Myanmar border. If one was to enter Myanmar to the west and keep going, shifting slightly north to miss Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal would be your destinations. Keep going and you’d be following the Silk Road into India. This is all a lead-up to my guess that we drove north out of the city into the mountains. I’ll have more to say about the mountains later, but our first destinations were three Tibetan villages.
We walked through the first and got a firsthand look at their houses. The traditional Tibetan house has three stories…At ground level, are stable areas for the animals, primarily Yak, which is a high altitude cow. The cows provide milk and cheese…The males become dinner. The second floor is the living quarters…Kitchen, living area, bedrooms, and a meditation room (see pic above). The third story is primarily storage. The main craft is pottery, but there is some high altitude farming: potatoes and barley. The people seem to live a spiritual, quiet life. I didn’t see a single television, but the artisan working on his ceramics was watching videos on his cell phone.
If you look at the pottery pic, you’ll notice it is drying on a stove…Kilns are a very new addition to the crafts here.
The next Pics are taken from a lookout at a village below. Our guide says this is the happiest village he knows. The pics show what a beautiful spot they chose for their village, and there are a series of shrines to offer daily prayers and meditation.
But it also could be the plant in the next pic: That’s right, it’s marijuana…That grows wild in these lands.
Our final village stop was at the base of the Jinsha River, a tributary of the Yangtze. After looking at the local craft: carving wooden bowls, we walked along the river and saw a “ghost village.” The homes had been abandoned due to the serious danger of rock slides from the mountain above the river. But the people were still tilling their barley and reaping their oranges. And the river still flowed from Nepal to the sea. We came around a corner and saw a local fly fisherman, using lures to catch trout.
I couldnt stop stop thinking of “A River Runs Through It,” the final scenes where Norman is fishing by himself with the river and mountains in the background… All things merge into one and a river runs through it… Half a world away and yet it’s so much the same.