"Among the Shangri-La snow area, Bi Ta Hai is the most beautiful lake that is surrounded by primeval forest at 3540 meters above sea level. It occupies an area of 1418 hectares among which 160 ha is water. It is a natural preserved area of Yunnan Province. Rare plants, such as long bud firs, and rare animals such as black neck crane, macaque, lynx, and Yunnan leopard are enjoying themselves on this piece of land.

The 'Zhongdian double-lip fish' is the only of its kind which is still living on the globe. In Spring, when the azaleas are in full bloom, the fishes will eat off the petals dropped from the azaleas and become 'drunk', and lie on the surface of the lake. It would be a most interesting event if you are lucky enough to see the black bears come to catch the fish in the moonlight.

'Bi Ta' means a woolen fabric in Tibet. The name was given to describe the large piece of forest. It also implies the sense of the local people in environment protection.

Dear friends from afar, Shangri-La may be the last clean land in the 21st industrial century, it is our common responsibility to keep it clean. So do not leave your garbage or any refuse on the lake or on the meadow or in the deep forests."

From the Chinese admission ticket

Without a doubt, Bi Ta Tai is an interesting place. Located about a day's drive outside of Zhongdian, Yunnan, which is fairly close to southern Tibet (and from some maps that I had seen, might have actually been part of southern Tibet many years ago), Bi Ta Tai is located in some of the most spectacular scenery in northern Yunnan. The lake itself is nothing out of the ordinary, with the exception of some beautiful snow capped mountain peaks in the distance, and the remarkable story of the spring blossoming Azaleas here, which, according to local story, drop into the lake, and are subsequently eaten by the fish. The Azaleas around this lake are known for their hallucinogenic properties; the fish that eat these blossoms end up floating on the surface of the lake for the bears, and the local populace, to easily catch and eat. What effect these hallucinogenic substances have on the bears, or, on the local populace, is largely legend, though one might easily associate this story with the "real reason" why they call this area, "Shangri La".

At around 11,000 feet altitude, and with a two mile walk down a mountain, the trip to the lake is not all that bad. It's the trip back. There are local Tibetan appearing children who manage horse back rides (actually, large ponies, at least by my standards; the damn horse took one look at me and walked away...), so those who don't desire to wipe oneself out walking back up, can ride up a mountain trail.

It's a spectacular area, which only pictures can best describe.

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