Shangrila turns out to be a big city, much bigger than Daocheng. After a painful 10 hr bus ride yesterday, I grabbed my dusty pack from the boot of the bus and went straight for the ticket office. I bought a bus ticket to Lijiang for tomorrow at 8:00AM. After a 10hr ride, 4 hours seems like a piece of cake.
I’m staying at the entrance of the old town and it’s cool and not so cool at the same time. It looks nice and all as its a novelty to see something different but coming from genuine Tibetan towns such as Tagong and Litang, this place is super touristy. Nearly everyshop in the old town sells the same stuff and are probably sourced from the same supplier.
Every shop has ”Tibetan silver” under the glass counter as either bracelets, rings or necklaces all decorated with green turquoise stones, red coral or both. It’s pretty ridiculous the amounts they charge because at touristy places, fakes are sure to be abundant. Some research online says that most ”Tibetan silver” contain only tiny amounts of silver if any and mostly lead which is toxic to the body. Turquoise and coral … Come on, are they really that abundant? It’s a bit like buying jade, you buy it from one place and it may be worth 1000RMB, you then bring that piece to another place and they’ll tell you it actually worth 10RMB.
On the topic of Tibetan turquoise rings, the first hit on google is one of the treasures from Unchartered 2, so cool if you could actually be a real like treasure hunter like Drake =P
I spent the arvo visiting the local monastery dubbed ”Little Potala”. Its over 300 years old and has over 600 monks. Its quite amazing to see cause its so big and architecturally a bit like Potala. I have to say, after seeing so many temples and prayer wheels, you get the idea and I’ve really lost interest in entering temples. Anyways if you’re ever in Shangrila, here’s some tips to avoid the 85RMB entry fee. Leave your camera in your backpack and don’t dress too tourist (eg. Goretex jackets) and get on the number 3 bus. Stay on the bus until you arrive at the monastery. Thats how locals get in and they dont have to pay. If you’re a tourist, they make you get off like 2km before at the boom gates where there’s a ticket booth, there you fork out your 85RMB and jump on a shuttle bus to the monastery. Huge scam.
The old town is basically based around Square Street, where there’s locals dancing around 7:30PM everynight. During the day, it’s over by BBQ stands and tables selling jewelery. From Square Street, there’s a spider web of streets spreading all directions consisting of handicraft stores, souvenir shops, bakeries and cafes as well as guesthouses. There’s also a Giant Prayer Wheel as well as a little monastery and museum in town.
I also visited the market outside of the old city. It basically sells fruit and veg and various cuts of meats. There’s also a section of little stands with tables and chairs infront selling momos which are Tibetan dumplings, mi xian, noodle like things as well as liang fen, some jelly desert.z
I had the momos for lunch and they were amazing! The mi xian for dinner wasn’t as good.
I came back to the old town and just strolled around. I walked into a few handicraft shops which were NGO efforts and the presentation and products were really impressive although they cost an arm and a leg! Angela from Khampa Cafe was selling a slightshot for like 25RMB and they were selling it for 130RMB! I also checked out ”Mount Everest”, some really expensive looking shop with really nice Tibetan gear, from religious tools like really amazing and genuinely expensive looking prayer wheels to bhurphas, a pointed triangular daggar used for sacrifices and also used as a key to Shambala in Unchartered 2!
An English couple was bargaining for a set of symbols apparently used by the Lamas. The owner was asking for 2000RMB, they ended up buying it for 1600RMB … Holy Moses, thats over $200 for a set of symbols that may or may not be mass produced!
Posted by Wordmobi