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

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

Tourism had not then taken off - airport and expressway connections have since opened up the area. In 1995 accommodation was limited. I booked into the surprisingly good Tibet Hotel offering great food with a menu in English! Zhongdian was increasingly expanding with low-rise concrete buildings; my hotel bordered the older town. Sadly around half of this unique neighborhood was destroyed by fire on January 11, 2014. Flames spread rapidly due to extensive use of wood within traditional construction. In ’95 large logs from local forests were piled up for future building work, or maybe for fuel? It was interesting to watch new homes being built - side walls mainly composed of whitewashed adobe brick but facades were of highly ornate wood. Buildings were large, some with upper floor balconies. At street level space was used for storage or converted into "walk-in" shops offering a fairly limited range of simple produce such as drinks, noodles, biscuits, household supplies along with personal items such as soap and toothpaste.

Household goods on display 1995. [Photo by Bruce Connolly/chinadaily.com.cn]
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