The Soul of Shangri-la

DaoCheng Yading

The year 2004. The first time I was ask to join a group of photo-enthusiast to a trip to Yading in Sichuan. A 2 weeks trip that would took me through beautiful landscapes, quaint villages, high altitude snow-capped mountains.  I had no idea of these places, not a clue of what to expect. It would be a tough journey through high altitude places with very basic amenities. But the scenery and the photos we can capture will be amazing.

Sunset at Yading Peaks. Shot with NikonD100 in 2004.
Mt.Jambeyang (Yangmaiyong) at Lourong Pasture

Fast forward to the year 2018. I lead a group of travelers through the same route but it is a great surprise to see the amount of development along this route. Making our journey so much more comfortable with good guest houses, hotels & restaurant. Thank goodness, the landscapes have not change much, still look very much the same as years ago. 

2004: We stayed in a Tibetan home in Yading village. It was mostly pasture land with few houses spread out. There was no electricity, we have to use the small generator to charge our camera batteries. There were big group of us taking turn to charge our batteries as we will be camping in side Yading for the next 2 days. There were no water or toilet, and we haven’t had a shower for almost a week after we left the last small-town days ago.

2018: We stayed in Shangri-la town (Riwa). Comfortable guest houses, restaurants & shops. Room with attached bathroom with hot water & heater to keep yourself fresh after a long day of trekking in Yading.

The once sleepy Yading village is now a popular place with many guest houses & hotels.

After the bus drop us at the entrance of Zhaguanbeng, we took a short walk to the battery car station. Instead of horses (in 2004 I took a few hours riding a horse) we now use the battery car to Luorong Pasture (4,180m) about 7 km away).

In 2004 we camped inside Yading next to the snow-capped mountains. It is a good thing this is no longer allowed as camping will surely destroy the surrounding park with pollution & human waste. I am happy to see the stream are still very clean and the water is clear.

The campsite I once stayed in 2004. It was very cold, I hardly slept & woke up before sunrise with a water bottle frozen.
The campsite I once stayed in 2004. It was very cold, I hardly slept & woke up before sunrise with a water bottle frozen.
My only sunrise shot of Mt.Jambeyang (Yangmaiyong) before I went back into the tent as it was too cold. Shot with NikonD100 in 2004.
The trek from Chonggu Temple to Pearl lake (4080m) is about 1.5Km.
Mt.Chenrezig (Xiannairi) at Pearl lake

The trek from Lourong Pasture (4180) to Milk Lake (4600m) & Five-colour Lake (4700m) is about 5.5KM but is mostly steep climb. 

Milk Lake
Yading, shot with Nikon D100 in 2004
Without realising I shot the same angle of Yading as the photo in 2004. Shot with Nikon D850 in 2018
Our Tibetan driver & guide took us to his village temple.
A typical Tibetan meal during our visit to my driver house.
Mt. Chanadorje (Xianuodouji)