Shangri-la: a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.
Shangri-la is often used in a similar context to which "Garden of Eden" might be used, to represent a paradise hidden from modern man. It can sometimes be used as an analogy for a life-long quest or something elusive that is much sought. For a man who spends his life obsessively looking for a cure to a disease, such a cure could be said to be that man's "Shangri-La". It also might be used to represent perfection that is sought by man in the form of love, happiness, or Utopian ideals. It may be used in this context alongside other mythical and famous examples of somewhat similar metaphors such as The Holy Grail, El Dorado and The Fountain of Youth. (Thanks wikipedia)
Having just read what wiki had to say about Shangri-la I had to smile and sigh a sigh of joy because I had a most amazing time in Zhongdian, Yunnans claim to the 'Garden of Eden'. Perhaps I am a sucker cause part of my amazing time was due to the fact that I met an amazing man and a group of other amazing humans and together we indulgded in the excitement of sharing time and space in paradise.
Filling our bellies with good wholesome food,
gracing our ears with glorious and diverse musical sounds,
moving our bodies in extatic flow,
telling tales and inspiring laughter that took me to tears of joy at times, appreciating the surroundings and knowing that the fun together was impermanant and should therefore be enjoyed in each and every second of experiencing it!
I felt as though on fire for 6 days, intoxicated by life,
elated by the simplest of activities...
Shangri-la was spent playing backgammon,
sipping on tibetan butter tea (good for the altitude i was told),
visiting local markets filled with some of the most exotic produce I have ever seen!
Cabbages the size of my torso,
aubergines the length of my shin,
frogs the size of toads-ranging in shades of green-
bunched up in buckets waiting to be sold
and consumed in some local speciality,
Eels swimming happily,
darting back and forth in their oxygynated tanks
daring the brave to take them home,
Yak heads delicately placed besides their intestines
beneath their hanging and dangling carcasses,
some with smiles on their faces others with scorns of remorse!
Tofu in all shapes and sizes, noodles galore,
black chickens and pink, live ducks and dead,
Green leaves from all walks of life,
Mint in abundance - so fresh and delicious
especially in morrocan tea which we made for 3.5 yuan
and supplied to over 15 folk.
Honey dripping from the honeycombs
and poured directly into ones container,
so sweet and sticky and golden and delicious!
grasshopper and snails,
trotters and pig tails...
I ate lots of dumpling and steamed buns,
I drank Yak milk with yak butter tea,
I ate yak pie which was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!
and drank chinese rice wine till my head span.
And I mentioned I met a man...
The woman in me was awoken once again. I'm a sucker for a romance and realise more and more that this little heart of mine loves to love and to be loved in return! Yet short and sweet serves me fine right now, nothing long term and complicated I seek. This time of my life is for me to do what's best for the betterment of me and if I continue to be as lucky as I have been in meeting special men just for a short time then I adhere to the saying, better to have love and lost(lust) than never loved at all! Each fleeting relationship with each traveller I have encountered has been so intense and wonderful not because they'll be friends for life but in the moment it is real and the bullshit isn't apparent! I've had some of the most incredible conversations which have opened my eyes to different worlds. Discussing the army with some Israeli travellers and hearing their stories first hand of losing friends and loved ones, or gaining insight into what it's like for a Tibetan from Lhasa to be living in China...the act of sharing so simple and clear.
The slight downside of experiencing such blissful moments is that when the next step of the journey is taken the emptiness sits. I sat with emptiness when I arrived here in Dali two days ago. Not sadness or depression just a sense of loss and the natural feeling of missing the people you spent time with. I missed Noa my Koala friend. I missed the lovely man I shared 6 days with, I missed the lady who sold me butter tea and the friendly faces of the staff at my hostel. So I spent some hours in front of the machine facebooking and emailing, youtubing and skyping, I slept for 16 hours straight and woke up yesterday feeling like a new human ready for new adventures! So now I am in Dali for real and last night I met a new group of troupers. I did some fire twirling last night for the first time in 6 years and despite being a bit nervous with the fire I had so much fun and will go back to the Bad Monkey and join in the fire show tonight. My heart was racing so fast i thought it would pop out of my chest from the rush that came after having first played again. the whirling whooshing sound of the fire surrounding me was just fantabulous!!!
I also spoilt myself and indulged in a traditional chinese whole body massage which was heavenly, at times a bit painful but the release after the pain was worth it...I am tempted to go back today for another foot massage because I can! I spent the rest of my day yesterday browsing through the endless stream of shops shops shops selling everything and anythings one could ask for! I bought some pants and now have to throw out some pants cause my back pack cannot fit much more innit! I considered being a good tourist today and visiting some of the local attractions but I must admit I do not have the heart for it. My desire sits in being able to sit at a nice cafe with a book and inbetween reading about Ghengis observing the local and tourist masses cruise control around the old city drinking either some fruit juice or a beer and being open to human interaction if it should come my way. I'll be leaving for The south of Yunnan province tomorrow evening and hope to be in Laos by wednesday to see my beautiful friend Dario!!!! Very exciting!
And on that note, here's a poem my man friend shared with me:
There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.
LORD BYRON, Childe Harold