Trip Start Oct 08, 2007
110Trip End Dec 16, 2008
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Shangri-la is a huge disappointment and a stark contrast to Lijiang's uplifted Olympic atmosphere. The old town is much smaller, while Shangri-la is quite a large and very average looking city. It is drizzling and gray. Olympic torch is passing through today, but no one seems to take a notice. I rent a lovely little room in an old wooden house. It has a TV and an internet, but no heating. I'm freezing. I watch for a while the glorious torch relay on TV. It goes through the streets of Shangri-la, cordoned by number of minority looking people. There is a large group of cheerleaders that follow the torch (and the camera), yelling repeatedly a slogan, but not sounding very convincing at all.
I'm too cold
The horse racing festival is a true spectacle. The guys are galloping on horses without saddles, but lavishly adjourned with ribbons and scarf. The crowd is truly out of this world. Those faces, those ethnic outfits - it is all for real, non of the "for the tourist" stuff. When the girls line up on the track the crowd gets really excited and stands up. The girls all move in pack and race till the very last second. Very competitive and quite spectacular. I feel like I've gotten more than my money worth for coming to Shangri-la. Who cares if it's not THAT Shangri-la.
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Hugs & Kisses, Vik