29 April 2011

6. - 29 APR: Shangri-la, lake Bitahai, Shudu and visit of town, shopping

Lake Bitahai
In the morning we make a trip to lake Bitahai, the highest in Yunnan at 3500msl. Nice walk along the river, abou three kilometers. We also take a short ride on a boat, a rip-off at 5 dollars to sail 10 minutes locked inside an ugly ferry. Would have been nicer to walk that distance as well. Then a drive to lake Shuduhai and another pleasant walk of a kilometer and a half. Tons of Chinese tourists all around. Not as many yaks as we had hoped to see, but still we see lots of the archetycal animal of this region in the meadows that paint this landscape.

At Shuduhai I am stunned to find the most advanced toilet I have ever seen: as I walked inside the small closet I saw a WC with some sort of plastic wrapping around the seat. I felt a bit funny to undress and sit down on this cover that who know how many other people had been lowering themselves onto. However it did look squeaky clean and so I went ahead and performed my daily evacuation procedure. As I got up, looking unsuccessfully for the chain to flush everything away, I heard a funny noise, like a whir... I was definitely uneasy until I realized that the plastic around the seat was being rolled down the WC, with all my stuff, to make place for spotless new plastic for the next patron! I then saw signs outside boasting about this eco-toilet, no water wasted, and all biodegradable materials to be collected and recycled...

In the afternoon we visit the Songzanlin monastery, again in large part reconstructed after the Cultural Revolution. And the day ends in downtown Shangri-la, shopping and playing around with some old pipe-smoking lady in the main square, where at sunset people are dancing to some old tune. They tell us they do it everyday to thank God for another good day...

Suggested movie set in this region:

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