Background information

I graduated as a forestry engineer from Kymenlaakso Polytechnic in 1997. The previous year I had been an exchange student in Harbin, China. After graduation I couldn’t find a job, so I decided to study East Asian Studies in Helsinki University. I thought that being able to speak Chinese must be an advantage in future. Now I’ve finished my studies except for the Master’s thesis.

So, this is the background for my decision to move to China. While searching a place to complete my research, I ended up in Zhongdian which nowadays is better known as Shangri-la. The population of Shangri-la is mainly Tibetan but there are also other minorities, such as Naxi, Bai, Yi and Lisu, and of course the majority Han as well. I fell in love with this area and my plan was to open up a bar in Shangri-la in spring 2009. Unfortunately the economic depression is felt here as well, although quite differently compared with many other places. Many previously wealthy Han have lost their jobs but they have savings with which they want to open bars, restaurants and guesthouses in Yunnan. So the property prices and rents have rocketed. After searching for a while for a place for me I realized that my savings weren’t enough.

Xidang

The previous autumn I had also spent some time in Yubeng village which is located in the Meili Snow Mountains nature preserve. I had friends in Yubeng, so I decided to check out, what would be the possibilities to have by bar/hostel in there. Unfortunately, I found out that the rents in Yubeng were also too high for my budget. On the way back down I met my friend Renqing Pinchu, who told me that his family was building a new house in Xidang village. The trek to Yubeng starts there. He said that I could rent part of the house for my bar/restaurant/guesthouse. And after negotiations this is what we decided to do. So my bar in Shangri-la had turned into a guesthouse in Xidang.

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6 responses to “Background information

  1. Dear friends,
    I found your blog and would like to come stay and visit with you at your guesthouse toward the end of October. I am from Canada and I am hoping to do the full Kawa Karpo Kora but I want to do the trek in a simple way without huge expense, cooks, guides, ect…. I was hoping that perhaps you might have suggestions for me around how to proceed to get a permit into the TAR or else some other ideas around how to do the Kora trek. Your place and village looks beautiful. I look forward to seeing you in a couple of months.
    Best, Richard Klein

    • I would recommend taking a guide for the full kora. In principle you need the Tibet permit to do the trek but the guide can also get you trough the check point as long as you’ll return back to the Chinese side. My Tibetan dad is an excellent guide. He has walked the kora many times. The guide is about 100-150 yaun per day so not overly expensive.

  2. We followed the same route and had the good fortune to visit Yubeng. We took the bus or van to Shangri-La and then up to Dequin and then to Failasi. From there we took a van to Xidang and then hiked to Yubeng where we stayed for three days in July, 2014. Yubeng is very beautiful, complete with falls and lakes and fields of barley. The hike from Xidang was tough since there were steep climbs and thick mud. On the way back, my wife hired a mule. In Yubeng I joined in the barley harvest thanks to being taught by a local farmer how to cut and tie the stalks.

    I can see the need for a guesthouse in Xidang. We never saw the village, but this might be due to the confusing parking lot situation in Xidang. The food in Yubeng consists of noodle soup and more noodle soup. The altitude is challenging for many people as are the primitive toilets. There are many signs for massages but the massage therapists seem to have totally disappeared. On our way back to Feilasi the road was destroyed by a landslide. We had to wait for four hours. Far above us, engineers extended themselves with climbing ropes and hammered the tottering boulders. Basically, they helped the rocks fall so none would smash our tiny cars. Then the gigantic CAT bulldozers cleared the way by dumping the rubble into the Mekong.

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