Monday, September 10, 2007

Rainbow below

The other day I had a totally unique experience, one I would wager very few people get to see. Atop a mountain in the far north of Yunnan province, in a Tibetan autonomous zone at some 4,700 metres in altitude after a mad scramble on scree to the summit we paused to catch our breath. Air when you’re this high is in short supply. We hadn’t exactly gone too far, a handy cable car doing most of the legwork for us. At the top station of the cable car we had headed another few hundred metres to the top; a guard en route bribing us for 100 kwai for the ahem ‘insurance’ to get there. At the top the view is simply out of this world, overlooking the valley basin of what the Chinese now call Shangri-La, after the mythical creation alluded to in James Hilton’s 80-year-old Lost Horizon novel.

Behind us jagged peaks loomed in the cloudy distance and then swivelling a little left it hoved into the view, a most wondrous sight. There, some 700 odd metres BELOW us was a rainbow! All seven colours fanned out in the valley below, providing some colour to the overcast day. The euphoria created by the altitude accentuated dramatically.

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