Preserving a slice of heaven

Updated: 2016-11-09 07:49

By Wang Kaihao(China Daily)

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Preserving a slice of heaven

Songtsam hotels with traditional Tibetan architecture in Kena village, Shangri-La, Yunnan province. Countryside tourism has witnessed a boom in Shangri-La's villages. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The countryside is as picturesque as the culture is mysterious. For many tourists, "Shangri-La" is a synonym for heaven on Earth.

The word "Shangri-La" first appeared in British author James Hilton's novel in 1933 to describe a utopian countryside on the edge of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The city of Shangri-La in southwestern Yunnan province got its current name in 2001 because it is widely considered to be the place that inspired Hilton.

"I've been to many tourism areas, but few can give the feeling of such harmony and tranquility," says Peng Zhiqiang from Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.

"I could easily find pigs or sheep running across roads," says Peng, who recently visited Shangri-La's villages and its natural wonders. "It's not my hometown, but the almost pristine environment makes me feel nostalgic."

As many urban residents become fed up with their fast lifestyles and heavy workloads, countryside tourism in places like Shangri-La entices people with a chance to breathe deeply and relax.

Peng says he was eager to breathe more fresh air before returning to the big city where he lives.

As a major community of the Tibetan ethnic group in China, local people try to give something more in rural tourism than what is bestowed by heaven.

For example, Tangdui village is known for its black pottery, whose history can be dated back to 2,000 years ago.

More than 1,000 visitors came to Tangdui in the past two months, according to Dundrup Tsering, deputy head of Nixi township, where Tangdui village is located. There will be an exhibition center in the village displaying pottery wares in 2017.

"When people come to see the pottery, we will provide one-day trip plans for them," Dundrup Tsering says. "We are also considering a trekking route around the hills near the village. However, no matter how many tourists come in the future, it is a basic objective to keep our mountains and waters clean.

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