zhongdian - or as it's now called "shangri-la" - really doesn't have too much to offer. this morning i went to the napa sea, which is basically a large grassland and when it rains, occasionally it floods to create a sea. once again, it was a place geared towards the typical chinese tourist: a horse ride led by a tibetan guide, where they drop you off by a shack where for some more money you can put on a costume and pose with your horse or a yak. i opted not to pay the RMB$30 and decided to walk instead on the wet grass dotted with horse and yak droppings. the weather wasn't very good either, a chilly early morning fog. i did make it to a small stream where there were some aquatic plants growing. two tibetan children followed me, asking me questions like am i married or how old i am. they showed me that there were actually tiny fish in the water (like guppies) as well as creepy leeches.
next my hired driver brought me to some 300-year old temple north of town. you couldn't take photos inside the temple (although some monks would look the other way for a small donation). i felt based on principle i wouldn't pay these bribes, but when told i can't take a photo of something, i take that as a personal challenge. whenever somebody wasn't looking, i'd snap a few photos regardless. i actually sent my driver away when i got to the temple, opting to walk back home(about 2 miles).
buddha statue (no photos!)
outside the temple i chatted with a woman at a jewelry kiosk who basically spent 15 minutes telling me how she wanted to go to the US and make lots of money so her daughter (7 years old) can go to a good school. i tried to explain to her that she plus a hundred million people all over the world want to immigrate to the US. i told her to consider canada instead.
i ended up taking a bus back to town. the bus only cost me RMB$1. the hired driver for the day whom i sent away:RMB$50.
green rice noodles
after a hot shower back at the hotel, i went across to the street to a posh hotel to use their more expensive but less security-measured internet to post some photos. after another hot shower, i walked down to the old town section of zhongdian. is this what lijiang feels like? old chinese buildings and wall to wall gift shops? i'll find out tomorrow.