Shangri-la

24 Aug


According to local bus drivers and the tourism ad we saw being filmed in the new “old” town, Zhongdian is same Tibetan paradise that gave refuge to the characters from Lost Horizon – the mythical, much fantasised over Shangri-la. A bit rich, really, and another slight to Tibet, but still a pretty town, with a small area of authentic old cobblestone alleys, old Tibetan style lodges and a lovely square.

The area around Zhongdian is home to a number of ethnic Chinese minorities, including the Naxi and Mosu. And it’s women who run the show in these cultures, from “walking” marriages where women welcome men into their beds then kick them back home in the morning, to even the language, where male is the diminutive (male + stone = pebble, female + stone = boulder). These matriarchies seem to be thriving, with the men left holding the baby, while woman run shops, labour on building sites, and generally get things done. We even caught a fist fight between female store holders while devouring BBQ skewers and beer in the square.


But a note to travellers: if you arrive at a nice old guesthouse, don’t attempt to string up your hammock among the beams of the open corridor before checking with the owner, especially if there are lots of tourists taking photos of the building. You might realise too late you’re staying at a 300 yr old caravan stop and one of the few original buildings in town…

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One Response to “Shangri-la”

  1. Albert Hardy September 2, 2007 at 5:05 pm #

    Seems like a really brilliant trip.Only thing is, though, I seem to recognize some of those boulders masquerading as women, here in Nantwich, Cheshire, EnglandFrom a little pebble who knows its place

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