Saturday, January 4, 2014

Shangri-La part two

as I mentioned in the previous post - the whole Shangri-La experience is more of a Disney style thing - with the town being a substitute for an actual trip to Lhasa... and you will see just what I mean from photos of the "Ancient Town"

the shot below was taken from the vantage point of roughly where the big P is on the above "map"

in the shot below you get three of the top "sights" the biggest prayer wheel (R) and the Big Buddha temple (middle) and the Mandala (L)

moving into town - you can see groups of tourists in some of the photos-

the shops specialized in prayer flags and those twirly portable prayer wheels along with (for an unknown reason) decorated cattle heads---LOL

there also seems to be a standard design in the decorations for the head- LOL

incense is a big seller too-

in the town square there are stalls that grill kebabs from your choice of meats-

nearly all shops have English translations of their names- many of which defy comprehension regardless-

there are some lovely views of the hills surrounding the area and the lanes in town-

and the White Stupa- was worth seeing-

a few more photos of things that caught my eye-

the place where we had tea and then later dinner- they let us take our time as our flight was so late and the airport so close by that we really didn't need to be to the airport until 9 PM...

It has a nice atmosphere after dark- before that it was filled with drinking and gambling (mahjong)

below - a mahjong street game - not the gambling kind played in tea houses and private rooms in restaurants---
we did go to the airport where our flight was delayed for late arriving incoming equipment.  it was an experience we would never have in the US- because the flight arrived roughly an hour late and so it was nearly midnight- they boarded us in roughly 15 minutes and pulled away from the gate before everyone had their luggage stowed and was seated- we taxied out making no stops and barely slowed for the turn at the top of the runway- zoomed off - with a total turn around time of under fifteen minutes!!!!!
we arrived in Chengdu and met our minder and driver who escorted us to the hotel form hell- OK - it wasn't really hotel from hell but here is what it was - the WORST FIVE STAR HOTEL (allegedly) I have ever stayed in. it looked nice enough at 2 AM upon arrival- but the rooms were not air-conditioned - they offered fans for the few western customers they had (all of whom complained about the rooms being too hot)- mind you it wasn't like it was cool - the days have been very warm and are getting warmer as we leave altitude.
it was a short night- our flight to Guilin leaving mid morning- and we were cranky from not getting a decent night's sleep in the hot room... we complained to the hotel service manager - who knew it was an issue and said they get regular complaints from westerners but the Chinese like it hot in the rooms (can this possibly be true? I thought it was only Italians who were allergic to AC- LOL)
anyway- we were off to Guilin and to meet Larry who had arrived from the US that morning - and on to new adventures in a different province in China with different ethnic minorities... and different sights to see...
our report on Yunnan province- Lijiang is on the list of things NOT TO MISS in China- very very interesting culture and a city center that charms all- as Anna said on the first night we met- Lijiang is the true Shangri-La.... Zhongdian (renamed Shangri-La for tourism) has much less to offer and most of recently constructed in the mode of an amusement park...skip it. 
stay tuned for Uncle Larry and our next adventures- heading east... still lots of the China trip left....