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Shangri-La

Far from the Maddening Crowd

semi-overcast 15 °C

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Picture a bucolic landscape where a forest of mist shrouded mountains sprout out of a somnolent river valley, and the bountiful earth bursts with pastoral riches. Imagine a beautiful land of ancient stone villages surrounded by verdant rice paddies and tea plantations. A land of plenty where oceans of harvested rice dry amidst the mandarin, pomelo and kumquat groves under a perpetually blue sky…
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This is Shangri-La - a place once believed to be no more than a utopian dream of British author James Hilton. But, adventurers that we are, we have found it. It is near Yangshuo - just a two hour bus journey and a six dollar taxi ride from the bustling tourist hub of Guilin. We know we have arrived because it is marked on our map…
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In his novel Lost Horizon (1933) Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, somewhere in the mountains of southeast Asia - an earthly paradise isolated from the outside world whose perpetually happy inhabitants are virtually immortal. It is a timeless place where ancient houses have witnessed the passing of many generations…
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…where a farmer still has time to tend his only cow…
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… and an aging mandarin-seller time to smile for the camera…
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Our Shangri-La is a place that had changed little since Marco Polo’s voyages to China in the 13th century, until the tourists came…
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We thought that in finding Shangri-La we would be far from the maddening crowd, but today’s Shangri-La is overrun with busloads of happy holidaymakers all wanting to raft down the river on one of the thousands of bamboo fishing rafts. And the ancient stone cottages are turning into multi-story villas, guesthouses and boutique hotels overnight…
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The rice paddies and citrus groves are rapidly shrinking under the onslaught of development, so if you want to help preserve rural Shangri-La before it sinks under the weight of tourists the best you can do is to buy their kumquats and mandarins this Christmas…
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P.S. Hi to Canuck teachers Deborah and Lori who braved the rapids on a bamboo raft along with their colleagues from the International School in XiaMen.

Posted by Hawkson 05:10 Archived in China

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Comments

The first photo is stunningly beautiful!

by Abigail Gossage

Lost Horizon - has the book club done this one?

by Janet

Guess the only Shangri-La left is right here on Gabriola. Where you can go down to Drumbeg and see maybe one or two people quietly having a lovely walk in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Lets keep it that way. love Jean

by jean

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