It was already third car that stopped seeing our “thumb up” hitchhiking sing since we left Tiger Leaping Gorge. Again it was the same scene going on: a Chinese guy stopped and decided to take us and after a while he started to show us money gestures; we should pay him for a ride. I had been said before that free of charge hitchhiking is not a very common issue here in China; people will stop and take you but they will ask for a financial reward for that.
This guy did not speak English (as previous two guys) but he called his mate with English language knowledge and we discussed our paying on the phone; long and curvy way to Shangri-La probably changed his mind and finally we all ended up in nice Western coffee shop in Shangri-La eating grilled aubergine and sipping nice hot Yunnan grown coffee. Using phone English- Chinese translator we found out it that our new Chinese friend is kind of sick of his job and need to take some rest in the mountains.
In 1933 English novelist James Hilton wrote a book called Lost Horizon; fictional story of mythical Himalayan land, the lost paradise of eternal happiness. Back in 2001 Shangri-La was called Zhongdian but the city changed its name and claimed itself mysterious place from Hilton’s novel. Why did it happen? Well in order be more attractive and therefore increase tourism business in the area; we strolled the city and found huge offer of accommodation and restaurants. Sadly part of ancient Shangri-La city was destroyed after massive fire at the beginning of 2014.
Shangri-La 香格里拉县 is located at altitude of 3200m above sea level; massive praying wheel dominates the city and colorful prayers blow in Tibetan atmosphere.
We, my travel buddy Kasia and me, stayed in Shangri-La Youth Hostel and found more buddies to travel around next day. Fortunately Liu Chenglong, Chinese guy with yellow jacket, spoke decent basic English thus language barrier was defeated. It was nice to sit around and share some moments together. In the morning six of us squeezed in the small car and headed for a mysterious countryside.
“People make mistakes in life through believing too much, but they have a damned dull time if they believe too little.”
(James Hilton- Lost Horizon)