Zhongdian Travel Blog› entry 10 of 21 › view all entries
If I told people this was Tibet people would probably believe me as Zhongdian (or Shangi-la as it is sometimes called) is at 3200m and here we are only about 200km by road from Tibet.
The road from Qiaotou is excellent and it takes a bus less than 3 hours to reach here. The road follows the river north and then climbs steeply up onto the plateau. The paltean is cold and bleak and we notice that the animals are all now different and the cattle have long coats like Yaks.
Zhongdian is a fair sized place surrounded by bleak looking hills. The old town is pretty with renovated buildings and cobbled streets. Old women in traditional Tibetan dresses walk through the streets and there are surprisingly few tourists.
Here the weather finally catches up with us and we have a day of almost continuous rain. In the afternoon it eases off enough for us to venture out and we catch the bus a few Kms north of the town to the Sumptseiling Gompa. The monastery is huge and has been impressively restored with the domes painted in gold. Though the setting is not quite as dramatic as in the James Hilton novel it is an atmospheric place that manages to feel like it is on the perched on the edge of the world.