The Christian Science Monitor looks at how the government’s efforts to promote the town of Zhongdian as the original Shangri-La have backfired, as the area is getting overwhelmed by tourists and redevelopment:
That approach has transformed a small village of wooden homes tucked along muddy lanes into a town covering 12 square miles and boasting more than 100 hotels. The so-called “old town” is not old at all: only one house has not been completely torn down and rebuilt in the past few years, residents say.
The new buildings are in the Tibetan style, made of wood, with imposing tree-trunk pillars supporting balconies and overhanging eaves. They are not homes, though, but shops selling jewelry, combed yak tails, yak bone combs, leather bags, and woven textiles. Over this emasculated replica of the yak-herders’ village towers a 60-foot-high golden prayer wheel, a monument to kitsch. [Full text]