With a mighty roar, our sleek black Sedan pulls away from the reaming torrents and hooting tourists, swooping away from the valley floor towards the snowy peaks as if a dragon waking from slumber.
Passing fresh-faced and eager cyclists, we start our own ascent to the heavens, our Dragon’s wings beating slowly as we crawl up roads so narrow we watch debris tumbling down the steep valley sides. Higher we climb, passing through long humid tunnels and rocky narrow outcrops, periodically waving to our cycling compatriots who are now panting hard and peddling harder. Salt burns their eyes, the sun their arms. As we reach the cloud line, aggressive nebulas cluster with an untold urgency, gluing and clotting in hues of charcoal and slate. Powerful adolescent rays smash through the mobilizing vapor setting the moist air ablaze, tempting out shy beads of water from the now thinning air. Bulbous water droplets batter the saturated cyclists, evidently making their ascent an adventure they’ll not forget.
Ever upwards we
Peering through thick mist we try to make sense of the eerie ghosts passing us by, nothing seems real, shapes extruded and elongated beyond recognition. Seemingly trapped in this event horizon for an eternity, we suddenly emerge victoriously, punching an exit through the swirling ceiling of this no man’s land. We wave once again to our cycling entourage, their spirits lifting as the wet, grey veil falls far below, and finally, we cast our eyes on the ice-capped peaks and lush green valleys of Shangri-La.
Gently lolloping emerald hills bump and merge seamlessly into one another as if boundaries were meaningless. A home to royally-kept farmland toned in an infinite array of viridian and amber, perfection is briefly disrupted only by jet-black forests mystically peppering the Panavision landscape. Majestic white wood-smoke hazily fills the crisp mountain air, settling nonchalantly above petite farming villages nestled snugly in the valley creases. Mint-blue glacial rivers meander from peak to platter, leisurely conversing with archaic leathery trees, company only to the cattle who graze quietly along the water’s edge.
Snaking our way through this paradise on earth, we pass distinctly Tibetan architecture, old wisened yaks tending well-worked fields, bright yellow wicker hats set amongst a sea of green vegetation, reds and blues and yellows and wood and grass and hay and sunlight laid out for all to see in the auspicious royalty of Shangri-La’s summer.