|For many visitors South-West China is the best part of the country. With half of the population as minorities and more dialects than you can shake a stick at, plus a large scale effort put into preserving the ancient cities, its easy to see why. And with more Tibetans living in the provinces than in Tibet, your excused for forgeting your in China, that is until you run into the bus loads of Han tourists.
Our first stop was Dali, its old city encompassed by stone walls and approached by walking under its colorful temples in each corner. The city's 4000m foothills mark the easternmost range of the Himalayas.
In Lijang we found an even bigger ancient city complete with traditional architecture, cobbled alleyways crisscrossed over a meandering stream full of goldfish and an impressive waterwheel at its entrance. After dark everything is lit up by the hundreds of red lanterns and the minority girls sing dance in elaborate outfits outside cafes.
You don't have to look hard to notice that marijuana grows freely in this part of the country. From toothless grandmas slingin it on the street, donkeys carrying loads down from the hills, 'happy' sections in guesthouse menus, to 3meter tall plants growing off the side of the road. Its absolutly everywhere.
We spent 2 days hiking in Tiger Leaping Gorge. One of the deepest in the world with the 3rd longest river in the world (the Yangtze) running through it. A 45k hike takes you to the rivers edge with an option to take 'Dangerous Ladder or Safe Path', up to 3000m, across fields of bamboo, maize and sunflowers with spectacular views, to little villages with welcoming guesthouses offering good food and cold beer to weary travelers.
All this eventually brought us to where we landed today, a small town called Zhongdian, but more commonly known as Shangri-la. A place synonymous with alluring, mysterious paradise. Thought, perhaps a fictional folklore by westerners, but indeed a very real place, and the one that inspired James Hilton's Lost Horizons. That far enough out there for ya? John
New photos in previous entry, were having problems downloading so check for more new pictures tomorrow and a video if we can figure it out. abs