"The Holy Birds of Peace in Shangri-La" Top 5 Page for this destination Zhongdian by bpacker

Zhongdian Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 264 photos

Finding the Birds of Peace in Shangri-La

It was early in the morning when hubby called me from HK. Would you like to go to Shangri-la, he asked. Which one? At the back of my mind, I was thinking of the buffet spread at Shangri-La - the Hotel- but Hubby was talking about the real thing.
The faraway utopia that was in Yunnan, China.
I whopped with joy, afterall, it's not every day that your spouse gets to ask you if you'd like to go to Paradise, however commercially mythical it was. But as sceptical as I was about the beauty of Shangri-la, I also knew for a fact that it was a real eden for the endangered Black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis). Less than 6000 of these precious birds remain on this earth and they are highly revered by the Tibetans since it's believed that the incarnations of the Dalai Lama were carried on the backs of these 'holy birds of peace'. I was fascinated and a painting of the birds further fed my twitching desires. How I longed to see those regal creatures! I did my research and learnt that those birds wintered at Napahai and Lashihai Wetland when they were not breeding (or ferrying monks) in Tibet.
I decided to keep my expectations in check, however after failing to see any holy or peaceful birds in Lashihai. My chances dimmed further when we encountered a traffic jam enroute to Shangri-la (2 terrible traffic accidents on the icy roads). It was about 3pm when I arrived in Shangri-la and I had only 2 hours worth of daylight to see a bird that were few in numbers.
We decided to chance it, knowing that the wetlands was a mere 7km from the town centre. And after a cab ride, walking around a dried up lake for miles, stepping on stinking horse manure and enduring fierce stares from the horned yaks, we finally saw the birds.
Oh reader, it is difficult to describe my joy on seeing them.
At about 1m in height, the cranes stood regally above the other plebian birds and strutted around in their handsome red crowns and black and white plumage. Every now and then, the monogamous pairs would cry out to their mate, flapped and danced gracefully around the fields.
I had indeed found Shangri-la and it was in a dried up lake with these birds. I uttered a silent prayer of thanks to God, photographed them before leaving at sunset.

Please take note that this page is mainly dedicated to other photographers and birders. As such, it doesn't contain anything touristy must see places.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:birds, birds, birds, birds
  • In a nutshell:more than just mountains, monks and water terraces
  • Intro Updated Jan 22, 2008
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Reviews (9)

Comments (2)

  • Jan 23, 2008 at 8:38 PM

    You are really daring! I don't think I would want to venture to Zhongdian for yak meat. Ha ha.... another signature webpage of bpacker. Well-done.

  • robertgaz's Profile Photo
    Jan 20, 2008 at 3:21 PM

    Anyone for yak fat?


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