Magical Mystery Tour

Days on Cloud Nine in Yunnan, China

I enjoy the freedom of independent travel so much. Rather than taking a relaxing tour on a cruise or sitting in the sand at a beach resort, I prefer to take an adventure in more tough environments. I'm more inclined to experience unknown lands and mysterious cultures through a journey that refresh my souls.

Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. It stands for an earthly paradise--a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. By all research and proof, the Shangri-la County in Yunnan, China are the most likely place that close to the fictional utopia, at least to me.

Shots of Shangri-La
Shots of Shangri-La in the Winter of 2010

I had one of the most fascinating travel experiences there in the winter of 2010. Those days in Shangri-la now seem like a dream beyond the clouds. Every time I recall my memories, the pictures that come to my mind are the bright blue sky, the clouds floating high above us, the vast expanse of grasslands, and the numerous flocks of cattle and sheep. Although suffering from altitude illness, I reached the main peak of Meili Snow Mountains 4292 meters above sea level. Because Meili Snow Mountains are the holy mountains for Tibetans, it is said that people who get a chance to witness the sunrise shining on the golden mountains will be blessed. I was among those lucky few who were fortunate to experience the marvelous scene.

Shots of Meili Snow Mountains
Shots of Meili Snow Mountains 4292m above sea

To my surprise, however, I found my paradise in Dali, which is another old town in Yunnan, rather than Shangri-la. The Erhai Lake in Dali is exactly the same as a blue river surrounded by green valleys that always appeared in my dreams when I was young. I fell in love with Er hai Lake at first sight then. I hope one day to live in a house with windows facing the Er hai Lake.

Shots of Erhai Lake
Shots of Erhai Lake in Dali