Sunday, 9 December 2007

I believe in Shangri-La

The mountain roads were curvy and it was a bumpy ride. On the back seat of the jeep, I was swung left and right and it was almost impossible to hold my camera still for a shot of the magnificent mountains.

The Gandan Monastry was on the top of my travel itinerary to Tibet. Although I had never been there previously nor seen pictures of it, I had a strong desire to visit this place as I believed that could be where a dream would turn into reality. Such is the strange affinity between the Gandan Monastry and me.

As the jeep drove into the high mountains, I caught a glimpse of the Gandan Monastry, hanging on the mountain cliff. I exclaimed softly, "Oh my god, it really exist.... this is Shangri-La!".

Nothing could ever prepare me for what I was going to see. As I set foot on the mountain at 4,200m altitude, I was breathless. Yes, the air was thin high up there, but it was the sight of the Gandan Monastry, in front of my eyes, that took my breath away.

17 years ago, when I laid my hands on the book "The Lost Horizon", I never knew it was going to become my pursuit for many years that followed. The Blue Moon Valley, a place secluded from the rest of the world, where people do not grow old and monks are wise, where magnificent mountains stood and sacred rivers flow, that is a paradise described in the book. For years, I had an image of Blue Moon Valley deeply entrenched in my mind, though I was never so sure if it really exist.

If only I could make you understand the intense emotions inside of me when I saw the Gandan Monastry. A dream became reality, and in fact much better than I had imagined. Suddenly, I lost track of time... it was as if I became the teenage girl once again, reading "The Lost Horizon" and losing myself in my own imaginations.

Going to the Gandan Monastry is like putting a closure to something which once seemed like a lifelong pursuit to me. I feel peace as I have finally found my paradise, my Shangri-La! The images of Blue Moon Valley that I once had are now replaced by the memory and photographs of the astonishingly beautiful Gandan Monastry. And I can finally say this... Shangri-La really does exist!

Symbol of Shangri-La

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