If American novelist James Michener invented Bali Hai, Shangri-La was created by British novelist James Hilton, author of the 1933 novel Lost Horizon. Now Vancouver-based travel writer Michael Buckley has produced Shangri-La: A Travel Guide to the Himalayan Dream, published by Bradt Travel Guides. Michael visited Nanaimo recently and gave me a copy to review.
The scoop of the book is impressive, covering a 12-country oblong rectangle bounded by Kabul (Afghanistan), Kashgar (China), Chongqing (China), and Bangkok (Thailand). I’ve been to many of the legendary cities covered in the guide, including Leh, Lhasa, Kathmandu, and Thimphu and I share Michael’s passion for the region. My trip to Nepal was incomplete and this book has given me the urge to return.
Shangri-La: A Travel Guide to the Himalayan Dream is brimming with National Geographic-quality photography and cultural trivia, but although travel routes and logistics are touched upon briefly, you’d need to also carry the respective Lonely Planet guide for specific hotel and restaurant information. However, some of Michael’s advice is straight to the point.
Because of the dire human rights situation in Tibet, as a visitor you need to be sensitive about what you talk about. Do not endanger Tibetans by asking them their opinions about risky matters. You may take your freedom for granted, but the Tibetans have none.