© 2009 xiao Home Alone in Shangri-La

Xiao at 3.8km Above Sea

umm….. this is sketch.

I’m now in 小中甸 (Xiao Zhongdian), a Tibetan town. The atmosphere is very different all the sudden. I’m alone again this time and now that there’s no one to talk to, I write. Sorry that any previous attempt to keep the blog in a chronological order is completely gone now.

小中甸 is on a plateau 3.8 km above sea level. I went there on recommendation from a restaurant owner whose website is i.cn.yahoo.com/lj_dongbahouse. But once I got there on bus, I thought to myself: “shit… there’s nothing here”.

I went from the cozy and friendly ambiance of 丽江 (Lijiang) to the vast emptiness of Shangri-La

Cozy LijianBasketball field in Shangri-La

I did end up seeing a village at some point down the path. Not too many people, I’d guess 30 max, Tibetans. The houses are all slanted and crumbly but the people are extremely nice. They would all greet me warmly and then laugh about me while saying stuff in Tibetan. But this would all change once I get into the city.

But getting into the city is a first challenge. 小中甸 is truly just a gas station on the side of the highway. My hopes are to catch bus heading for Shangri-la on the way and hop in. I did end up making it back to the road by 7 but every bus on the way were full. Then the skies got darker and darker and colder and colder. At this point, I just wanted to get out and hoped to hitch hike with some nice locals driving tractors or something and make the 30km to Shangri-la but there were no locals driving around. Then I was hungry enough that I just wanted to buy my way out and offer a shitload of money to anyone with a vehicle but the only people left on the road are snobby rich tourists in their Hummers and Audis and none would stop for a guy with 2 packs on the side of the road. Then, as if mercy was offered, a travel bus appeared after 10 minutes of complete silence and stopped next to me…

Field in Shangri-LaField in Shangri-LaPrayer Pole

Once in the city, the atmosphere isn’t much better. This place is not exactly the paradise or Shangri-la as the British author James Hilton would have described. This place is cold, and cold in every way. First of all, almost every second store in the city is a knife store. The entire place is dark and the streets dirty. The people don’t seem as friendly either and the hotel staff suck at keeping the place in shape.

Benro M-227 n6 and KS-1 Review

These are the new tripod and head I’ve just bought. Benro is a Chinese brand who tries to copy the french bra

nd Gitzo and the Swiss brand Arca down to every detail.

I bought them from the same restaurant owner as mentioned above. He has like 4 tripods and this is his second best set. The tripod itself is very solid and also decently light. Its legs are made of carbon fiber and makes a plasticky sound when hit. But at least it isn’t cold by touch like metals. The entire set is waterproof and the structure is very solid. Once the spikes go in the ground, it won’t move. The ballhead is smooth and the motion is natural. It is very easy to tilt and control to get the angle I want. There’s many axis of motion besides the obvious rotations of the ball. Horizontal motion is controlled by a knob at the bottom of the head and the entire head shifts up and down as well. In all, the value is superb and I could have ended up with a much cheaper tripod if I bought a better known brand.

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