Peddling Paradise in Sichuan and Yunnan

Shangri-la. The very name is an incantation that evokes images of a mythical mountain paradise where peace reigns and life approaches perfection. Drawn from the pages of James Hilton's 1933 classic, Lost Horizon, Shangri-la has become synonymous with exotic escapism, a connotation not lost on the tourist industry.

Hilton professed that Shangri-la is not on any map, but that hasn't stopped numerous countries—Nepal, Ladakh, Sikkim and Bhutan, among others—from claiming to harbor the verdant Himalayan valley in the shadow of a glacier-clad peak, shaped like a pyramid. The People's Republic of China is the latest to jump on the bandwagon,...

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