Settling down in Shangri-la

I’ve been here for two weeks now. How time flies! Getting in to the routine of living a slow-paced life, but still productive.

I would wake up at 7.30am every morning for a hot shower – since there are 10 of us living under one room now and the queue for the bathroom is longgg. Also, the hot water would run out if many people are using it coz the heater heats up a tank of ready water instead of the running tap. It’s a pretty nifty heater – a lady speaks to you everytime you switch it on/off and there’s a small digital screen indicating the current temperature. I would always be the first to be up!

Then, I would head down to the library, switch on the lights, arrange the chairs, boil some hot water and have a cup of tea with biscuits. I would normally do my own stuff in the morning – read some news, fix the blog, attempt to write some posts, sort through my pics, laundry, look for reading material, etc.

Come noontime, everyone will be asking if lunch is ready. A very nice lady “Duan Ayi” will cook lunch for us everyday – A typical chinese meal consisting of rice, assorted dishes and soup. We will help her out by serving the dishes, filling the bowls with rice and distributing chopsticks.

The "family" having lunch together

Two Mondays ago, we planned on going to Napa Hai Lake but it rained the entire day. We stayed indoors moping around and clinging on to our laptops and the crawling wifi. In the afternoon, the girls decided to go for high tea, else we would go mad. Went to try out a restaurant nearby. Shared a pizza and apple pie. I had an oh-kay chocolate milkshake. As for dinner, stuck to our original plan of having waxed pork ribs hotpot. Rather similar to the one I had in Lijiang, but this one has more cuts of meat.

Waxed meat as deco for the shop

Our hotpots with tall chimneys! One for the meat, the other for vege.

Every night, there are community dancing places around town. One is right behind where we are, another in the old town square (5mins walk) and one more in the new town (10 mins walk).The ladies will be dressed in their traditional gear (that’s how they go on with their everyday life) and dancing to Tibetan music with a modern-pop twist. I’ve joined them a few times and it gets more complicated towards the night. It starts at 7pm and ends at 9pm. I normally don’t last till the end coz I would be “lost” when the music becomes faster and steps gets confusing. Must try harder!

Dancing in Shangri-la Old Town Square

Last Saturday, the girls decided promptly to hike up the hill for sunrise. Woke up super early and hiked up in the dark. We finally made it to the top! It ain’t no joke hiking in high altitude (Shangri-la is about 9,843 feet above sea level). It took quite a while for the sun to rise. It wasn’t too spectacular as we were expecting fiery red orange skies – it was piercing white, blinding our eyes! On the hindsight, the scenery of the surrounding mountains made the climb worthwhile.

Amazing natural lighting on the mountains

As for my “job”, I have successfully conducted 5 lessons for my student. Yay! We’ve been doing oral reading, vocabulary building and understanding of the passages. My student prefers real-life text as opposed to reading from storybooks. So, I’ve been looking up on travel magazines and articles that are related to culture, tradition and facts about other countries. The strategy seems to be working as it has managed to keep his interest. Two days ago, he proactively asked for homework to be brought home since he has free time at night. I’ve also been learning basic Mandarin from him and improving on my pronunciation. He wants to read a book on Chinese Buddhism and we have attempted to read it once, but it proved to be too philosophical for him to comprehend right now. I’m looking for easier Buddhist text and hopefully we can get that going soon.

My workstation! We were making a poster for a weekend activity educating kids about bees.

On a very positive note, I’m getting back into the habit of reading (I’m guilty of not reading enough when I was working) since there are 3 huge racks filled with great English books here (free of charge!). I’ve finished two books so far, going on my third. Many more which I wanna read!

A perfect read since I just returned from Tibet. This book follows the dreams of the Chinese government to build a railway to Lhasa, their hurdles and how they finally succeeded. A great feat of engineering!

An unbelievable love story. A young Chinese woman travels to Tibet to look for her dead husband, only to find herself staying on 30 years in her quest to find out the truth.

I’m also getting into the Chinese habit of tea-drinking. Bought a few packets of tea last week and would have at least 2 cups per day.

Tea, lemon and red dates

So yeah, I’m settling down quite well here with a daily routine. Routine! Gosh, I’ve not have that for more than 6 months now. Might seem boring compared to hopping from one place to another, but I’m taking it as a breather – to update the blog, sort out my pics and get some proper rest.



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