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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Shangri-La (Part 2)

So, I am in Shangri-La now, and you may read a bit about the first day or two when David posts what I wrote about Deqin. [Now posted.--ed.] Today I took a bus back from Deqin to Zhongdian, and it snowed! For the first time since the last Christmas I was home I saw snow! It was beautiful because the trees are all yellow and red and there was enough snow to blanket the needles and the branches of trees. The mountains rising up were obscured by the snow and fog. Prayer flags whipped in the wind and small cabins with smoke coming out of the chimneys and lone men standing in doorways looked archetypal. Can I say that? By that I mean like something, some basic image that is ingrained in your mind, one of snowy mountain landscapes in hard to reach places.

It is raining now, and I just can't make myself go out and walk in the rain. I think I will find a coffee shop (they are turning this place into another backpacker dreamland of "authentic" buildings with cheap rooms and Western food and traditional food and coffee and wine and beer, etc. so there is the smell of wood everywhere in the old town and the feeling that in two years' time there will be a much different spirit here). I make that judgment based on a very short walk through the old town and the words of a German man who was here last year and said none of those buildings existed a year ago. Things change fast here.

As a postscript to the Deqin post about my rant on being charged 17 RMB for a plate of food and a bowl of rice: Last night when I went out to eat, I asked the price first. 5 RMB. That girl screwed me big time, and in part because of that, Deqin will hold somewhat negative memories, proving once again that beyond the landscapes and the sights and so on and so forth, it comes down to the people you meet and the interactions you have. I wish I had the address of that restaurant so I could tell everyone not to go there, but I guess that would just be a babyish thing to do. [Vindictive maybe, but not babyish.--ed.] I have decided though that from now on anytime someone tries to f*$k me like that I'm going to take out a notebook and say I am a writer for a travel guide and I'm going to make sure the place gets a bad notice. Maybe that will help?


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