On my trip to China, we drove from Lijiang to an area known as Shangri-La. I've heard "Shangri-La" before and associated it with any heavenly place, but it turns out it actually came from this part of the world, and a book written in 1933 called Lost Horizon, where Shangri-La is an idyllic, mystical place in the Himalayas, removed from the outside world. When I arrived at Songstam Retreat, a remote hotel with 75 rooms built into a hill behind the Songzanlin Monastery, I woke up to the Himalayas each morning and felt the spiritual nature of Shangri-La and what it meant--a happy place.
This is Tibetan China and how beautiful that this hotel reflected the traditions, architecture, and culture of the Tibetan people.
Driving from Lijiang to Shangri-La (about 4 hours), we stopped in the rural Naxi town of Shigu Zhen for lunch and to see The Red Army Memorial. Lunch ended up being my favorite meal of the entire trip. Our guide, the ever-wonderful Gerald Hatherly with A&K, pointed out different vegetables from this wall below which became perfectly seasoned vegetables and stir-fry's. I think it was $25 total.
The lobby at Songstam felt like a Tibetan home, with dark wood furniture and colorful accent pieces.
Here is a peek at my beautiful room, with a terrace, and a charming wood stove that they will light for you at night. I still was freezing, as there is no way to regulate the heat yourself in the room (and you're nearly 13,000 feet above sea level!), and I had to learn to live with WiFi that took 20 minutes to load a page, but that is to be expected in this part of the world! I loved the deep, wooden bathtub, and pieces of pottery scattered throughout the room.