China - Tibetan Counties of Yunnan
Zhongdian means the 'middle valley', a place below the snow peaks but above the grassland where the growing season is very short and only half-breed yaks can survive in the meadows. Beijing has renamed the town Shangri-La, the famed oasis in the novel 'The Lost Horizon'. Only they can't say the name in English, so they officially call it Xiangelila. This is a cultural centre for Kham Tibetans, and the towns surrounding the city are rich in the living traditions of the Kham. They drink Yak Butter tea take care of their monasteries.
China's increasing middle-class growth is putting pressure on the traditional flavour of tourism across the country. In Yunnan there are still plenty of gems to be discovered, but expect to dig a little deeper to find them.
Read more about the charms and charmless of Yunnan, where the yaks are lovley and the Tibetans are even lovelier.
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