On the first stop on the way into the Tibetan culture, we reached the fabled Shangri La, named after a utopian novel by James Hilton. Actually, the town was called Zhongdian and as is the province, but the Chinese tourism authority always comes up with something. And it works! But besides its exotic name this beautiful Tibetan town had much more to offer, especially architecture and culture. In the evening, one can meet old and young people dancing in the streets of the city in a traditional circle dance. Up to 100 people move to a choreography only they know. Beautiful to look at. Also, the food turned out quite traditional with yak meat and tasty momos.
While we were waiting for our visa extension, we used the days for some short excursions into the surrounding mountains and temples, all decorated with lots of prayer flags. But mainly, we just enjoyed the incredibly relaxed atmosphere of the place and also finally found time and access to update our blog. A super nice hostel staff was always with word and deed to our aid and a large DVD collection sweetened the evenings. But then we finally had our passports back and went on to the North.
To get there we had to spend 16 unforgettable hours in a minibus along the worst road in the world. Although we had by then already experienced a lot in terms of transport, our journey in the Himalayas to the border of Tibet, was by far the worst. The road was one big construction site, and we drove frequently on unpaved gravel roads at the edge of the abyss. But somehow we and the minibus survived the ordeal and finally we arrived in Feilai Si, at the edge of Meili mountain range.
There we woke up the first morning with a breathtaking view of the mountain peaks of the Meili Snow Mountains and its highest summit, the unconquered Khawa Karpo (6740 m). With full backpacks we started our five-days-hike and first descended down into the unworldly looking Mekong Gorge to the city of Xidang. The night we spent at a hot spring before we hiked over a mountain pass to reach the village Yubeng, only accessible by foot our horse. There we stayed for three nights and explored the beautiful mountain area. We were the only guests in our simple hotel with pork heads hanging from the walls and were spoiled with tasty eats by our landlords.
For the return trip to Xidang we chose a different route, which was 20 miles long and for the most part ran along a narrow path along a steep canyon. This was quite nerve racking because of my fear of heights. Completely excausted, we took the first avaiable hotel in Xidang. The next day brought us to the Mingyong Glacier, which we were able to enjoy in fantastic weather. After these intense days of hiking our feet were tired and we went along our favorite road back to Shangri La, where we only had one day to recover before we went on…