In search of Shangri-La or Not all those who wander are lost

“How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else” (R. Buckminster Fuller)

One thing that costs to accept is that distances are much longer than they look on the map. You thought you can easily travel around South East Asia? Not really if you are working full time…

I was used to frequent weekend getaways, i.e. jumping on the plane, spending approx. 1.5 days in a random place in Italy, Spain or wherever it may be and getting back for a Sunday evening in Paris.

From Japan, apart from South Korea and East China, any other flight will take 5 hours or more. Even some places within Japan are 1-2 hours flight away. You can imagine my excitement getting on a plane after more than 2 months on the ground. I do like the process of traveling, observing people, and getting a new perspective on things and life.

I’ve heard many times that you should first go to China and only then to Japan in order to really appreciate both. Well, I do the reverse. I was told many stories about taxi drivers who don’t speak a single word English, drive like crazy and get lost on the way. Well, I give it a try, in Shanghai.

I can surely confirm that all I’ve heard about driving is true. By the time you reach the Bund and the city center, you will be holding to a safety belt (if such exists) and sincerely hoping to get to your destination in one piece. For your own good, do prepare the address written in Chinese and a phone number, it is more likely than not that the driver will need to call to locate your destination.

Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city in China by population and a global financial hub. It is a city of action, not ideas, as I’ve read in one of the guides.

Good morning, Shanghai!

There are many things to see, food to try, lounges with a view to enjoy depending on your wishes and time you have.

Calypso Restaurant & Lounge, Shanghai

“They need more buildings” – someone says during the cocktail. “Sure, on which side?” – comes a reply and we all laugh. Skyscrapers extend as far as you can see, where the horizon gets lost in smog.

Talking about the lost horizon, this is what I found on my pillow before the night.

Good night thoughts

Most likely you would not even notice, life is so fast paced that people would rarely pause for reflection before going to sleep. And yet, sometimes it is really worth to, not to mention that China helps you by blocking Facebook, Instagram, Google, Youtube and a number other “distracting” sites.

Do you know what is Shangri-La? It owes its name to the book The Lost Horizon, published by James Hilton back in 1933. Hilton described Shangri-La as a mystical valley somewhere in the Kunlun Mountains, a Himalayan utopia, hidden from the outside world, where people lived in harmony for years beyond the normal life span. Shangri-La became a synonym of perfection that is sought by men in the form of love, happiness or ideals, similarly like Shambhala or El Dorado.

Isn’t it what we all aim for? And yet, while it is nice to have a destination to reach to, it is the journey that matters, after all… For me it is time to go back, but I leave you to find your own Shangri-La.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself” (Danny Kaye)

 

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