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Entries about tibetan

Shangri La

''a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world...''

sunny 28 °C

There were now 7 of us in the gang! 2 US gals - Camden (who was hilarious) & Jennifer, and 1 UK gal - Ellie had joined us. They were lovely girls altogether - they'd been living in Shanghai and 2 of them had just completed the Great Wall of China Marathon - JAYSUS - Ironwomen.

Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. It is supposed to be a mystical happy land, and believed to be in the Yunann province. Today Zhongdian claims the title of Shangri La (renamed for marketing reasons). The countryside is beautiful and it's a great place to hang out and experience Tibetan culture without all the red tape and hullaballoo of actually trying to get into Tibet.

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Anywho the 7 of us checked into a YHA in Shangri La (check out this artwork on the walls)

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Awesome eh??

Anywho we checked in and came upon Frenchy Trumpet girl sitting on the floor in reception, pouring over pages and pages of maps and notes. She was awesome. Mad as a brush and talked about 300 miles an hour, and with SUCH EXCITEMENT! I liked her instantly. Her name was Martah but I called her Frenchy. She got excited by everything - especially plants! Martah had been volunteering and studying in China for 11 months and once she was finished, she decided to travel around China for a few weeks. She carried her trumpet strapped to her back everywhere and everyone she met asked her to play for them. It started conversations for her (although that would have been no problem to her anyway), opened closed doors for her - i.e. got her into places for free, she went busking with it, played in a bar with some Irish and English guys with it and was just generally awesome. So Frenchy joined our crew and we all went out for another hotpot. Well I couldn't take another hotpot so went for some momos and they were (in the words of Joao) DEELISHHSHHEEYUS.. :D

After dinner we went drinking in the square for a while, we saw a baby do a poo on the street, we threw some shoes around in some sort of naf competition, and then realised we had a curfew and had to go back to our hostel. Myself, Frenchy, Stef & Joao stayed up drinkin, laughin and being eejits on the rooftop which was great craic altogether. (Don't we need this filter? Yes we do! - ha!)

Next day we pottered around Shangri La and went up to the big temple.

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I liked Shangri La a lot better than Lijiang. SL was a bit quieter and less obviously pretendy Chinesey. (If that makes sense) The temple was cool and I sat and had a look out over the city, enjoying the silence. I heard some noise coming from the Giant Twirly Prayer yoke and took this to mean people were trying to push it round 3 times (for good luck?,blessing - I forgot to find out. I expect you have noticed my lack of facts in the last few posts - my apologies - i'm too busy having a good time to find out all the answers!)
Anywho we rushed to join in and push the big prayer wheel round. Loads of people started out pushing it, but then half of the buggers jumped out half way through, so while the first push around was easy, the second was harder and the third (with only about 7 of us left) was nigh on impossible. But we JUST about made it. :) YAHOO!!!
I felt pretty lucky and blessed by this achievement (although I have felt that way for most of my trip).

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Lunch was skewers of stuff at the market. It was nom. There were skewers of mushrooms, spring onions, yak, potato, chorizo, courgette and big chilli peppers - all covered in spicy pepper. DROOL. It was amazing, although our mouths were on fire afterwards.

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Back at the hostel we hung around for a bit playing Brain Trivia where myself and Stef got a WHOPPER SCoRE OF 7900!! NEW WORLD (lisa) RECORD.

Posted by squeakylee 05:05 Archived in China Tagged culture la prayer tibetan shangri yokes Comments (0)

Shangri La - The Tibetan Monastery

sunny 28 °C

When the girls and Chen returned back to the hostel, the gang of us trotted off to the bus stop to try and stay overnight in the big Tibetan Monastery nearby.

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The aim was to get in free, so we left at 6pm and were hoping the guards/ticket dudes would be off duty by then. Chen had chatted to some other Chinese young people at the bus stop who told him the way to get in free was to hitchhike in with the locals. So, when we got to the ticket entrance office, we pretended not to hear the ticket dude shouting at us and walked towards the monastery village area in search of a lift.
Another ticket dude came out and collared us though, and asked us for our (pretend) hotel booking details. He told us we couldn't stay AT the monastery itself, there were only expensive hotels near it - yadda yadda yadda.

The three girls and Chen went in to the ticket office to see what information the ticket dude had. I'd learnt ages ago to let those who want to handle things, handle them, so I sat outside with Frenchy. We saw 2 Chinese people who were at the bus stop flag down a local's car and hitch a lift into the village. So hitchhiker extraordinaire Stef decides we would do that too. He told the girls our sneaky plans and the four of us, Me, Frenchy, Joao and Stef jumped into a passing car and got a lift up to the monastery. :D Success!! BUT there was another ticket checking office at the entrance to the monastery. DAM! I snuck into the monastery via the toilet, but when all four of us tried to sneak in, we got caught 'rapid'.
However Frenchy and her magic trumpet saved the day! The lads at the ticket office asked her to play a tune for them and she did and they rewarded us with free entry! Meanwhile the girls and Chen were still back at the ticket office trying to hitch hike up.

We had a good 40 minutes wandering around the monastery - it was really cool. There didn't seem to be any place for us to stay the night there though. Frenchy got talking to one monk and he let us into see the Big Buddha and the monks chanting. It was all very cool and spiritual (dunno if that's the right word) and I felt a bit teary eyed and emotional. The monks looked like they were having a great time though, chatting and laughing away during chanting time.
The artwork on the walls was amazing - so detailed and extravagant. There were various incarnations of Gods getting jiggy with it, vultures eating the intestines of deadmen, nudey men and women, and lots of other cool weird stuff. It was pretty epic and the monastery itself had a great view of the surrounding village and lake.

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The girls and Chen finally arrived! They had agreed to stay at some local dude's gaff and have dinner there, in return for a lift up to the monastery. They went in for a look at the monastery and I went for a walk around the lake, which had cool viewing points of the monastery in the middle of it. I met some awesome locals on the way around the lake and had a right good mime/chat to them.

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Later the gang of us went to the local dude's house for a dinner of vegetables, slices of FAT (really!!), rice, Yak butter tea (ew), Yak Cheese (equally ew) and other stuff.

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I wouldn't be a big fan of the Yak dairy products now - they taste like you're just taking a bit chompy bite out of a rather stinky Yak.
The guy's house though was amazing.

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He had lovely wooden features and details everywhere, big copper pots for cooking in and fabulously big bedrooms that would accommodate all 8 of us. The weird thing was the toilet which seemed to be out the door and down the road - it was literally a shit hole. :D All the neighbours used it as well as Joao found out early the next morning.

We got up at stupid o Clock the next day to go and see the sunrise and walked around the lake to a viewing point so we'd have a good view of the sun rising up and shining on the monastery. We sat in the morning darkness and waited. And waited. And waited. There was no sunrise! There was however some duck-lovin' going on nearby that kept us amused for a while before we had to return to the gaff for a breakfast of delicious bread and spicy eggs.

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We returned to the moastery to explore a bit more in the morning sunshine (it appeared eventually) and after another hour or two decided to hit the road back to our hostel in Shangri La and get my backpack. Stef was hitchhiking to Lijiang for the craic and I thought it would be fun to try it out. I'd never hitchhiked before and Stef (who'd hitchhiked around the block a bit) seemed like a good person to go with. He was confident enough, he'd done loads of hitchhiking before, he was good fun and mega tall so could easily take on a few Chinese who might get a bit rowdy! ;)

We had to bid adieu to the US girls (We said we might see them in Lijiang if we were successful with the auld hitchhiking), and we had to say goodbye to Joao and Frenchy who were staying on in Shangri La. I was pretty sad to say goodbye to Joao who was an awesome travelling chum, great fun and a super nice guy - and also of course to Frenchy who was delightfully bonkers. Chen had decided to try and hitchhike to Daqin so we said goodbye to him too. But I had a feeling we'd not seen the last of Chen! :)

Posted by squeakylee 05:26 Archived in China Tagged sunrise la dinner for monastery duck yak tibetan fat shangri lovin Comments (0)

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