Situated in one of the farthest northern reaches of Yunnan province, right below Tibet, and, from what some older maps of Tibet show as actually being part of southern Tibet at one time, Zhongdian is considered to be, by the Chinese, the Shangri La that the rest of the world desires to eventually find. It even says "Shangri La" on the Zhongdian airport. But Zhongdian is far from the imagined Shangri La (Li Jiang is closer to what I imagine it should be), as the town itself is just an amalgam of the tyical run down and dirty Chinese buildings and shops. Nothing spectacular here. With the exception, of course, of the surrounding area. Lots of Tibetans live in this region outside the city of Zhongdian. All with their typical earthen building houses, and small villages, surrounded by lots of farmland. And the surrounding mountains are absolutely gorgeous. But unfortunately, I didn't have time to visit Mei Li, which, purportedly, is one of the most beautiful regions in China. With high perpetual snow covered peaks, and many flowered meadows in the spring and summer, it is supposedly, truly a sight to behold. Next time.
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