Discovering Yunnan’s Tibetan Plateau - A personal Shangri-La

By Bruce Connolly | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-12-12 07:09

The market area was a constant source of interest and photo opportunities. Just sitting watching life in all its forms could captivate me for hours. Scenes so far removed not just from more developed eastern coastal cities but also from Kunming, the provincial capital. I was fascinated with headgear - not just the colorful range of Tibetan, Yi, Naxi and Bai ladies styles but also the men with wide-brimmed almost cowboy-style - useful with the strong sun on the grasslands. One elderly man wearing a knee-length brown suede coat contentedly sat smoking a long-stem pipe. Next to him a lama from the nearby monastery appeared deep in thought. Tibetans appeared clearly in the majority around this bustling commercial area, although with so many different dialects and languages there was the continual mixture of quite incomprehensible sounds. With the number of people thronging through the tight spaces between stalls, photography was challenging, often having the camera ready to fire in the hope of successfully capturing images of this moment in time. Every corner presented reasons to stop, stare and wonder what the utensils were used for such as tall copper pots that seemed to have come from a bygone age. Were they for cooking? I had never seen the likes before. Then there were the meat cleavers simply laid out on the ground - something safety regulations back home in Scotland would forbid, yet there they were spread out in public view. I did feel Zhongdian was a safe place - indeed there certainly felt harmony amongst the various ethnic groups I met.

Small temple above the Old Town of Zhongdian 1995. [Photo by Bruce Connolly/chinadaily.com.cn]
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