Songtsam Benzilan lodge © 2013 . All rights reserved.

24 Aug ’13

Natascha, a German expat living in Suzhou, tells me she has the feeling this is not really China “as we know it”. It’s so quiet with clean air, with an almost intact natural scene, with friendly, local people.

We are in Songtsam Benzilan, a small and green side valley of the major gorge where the mighty Yanthzi River flows. Up until 2008 there was no real road here but in the past the Ancient Tea and Horse Trail route passed by the small town of Benzilan. It linked Southwest China to India. Now the new road links Benzilan with the rest of the world.

In the valley where the lodge is build you’ll find some typical, white painted Tibetan style houses and the Songtsam Lodge, erected in natural stones. Out of the 10 guest rooms we get room 301 with two windows and views over the valley and the green fields. At night the only sound is that of the small rivers running around the lodge and the numerous birds (minus the annoying neighbour’s dogs, put him in the soup maybe). At Benzilan they grow their own veggies in the garden. Patches of intense red peppers and tomatoes are growing under the strong sunlight. It’s a perfect altitude, with almost 2000 meters, most people do not suffer from altitude sickness but you still feel very much in the mountains.

The team members of Songtsam Lodges are almost all local. They learned English at the Eastern Tibet Training Institute, founded by an Australian wanting to offer Tibetans a better and brighter future. You almost never get a no here when you ask something. “Of course!” “No problem”. The manager Ren Chen is the best multi-tasking manager I have ever seen. We asked if we could have lunch outside with the slight possibility of having a rain shower on our head. “Yes! Of course” we could. After some rain drops the sun came out in full force and we were having a magical lunch wile sitting under a pomegranate tree with views over the fields and the valley. Magical, I already said that, I know. But after all we are in Shangri-La.


  1. Natascha

    Dear Debbie,

    It was so great to meet you at Benzilan! You are absolutely right, I was fascinated that I have found such a place in China. Being surrounded by grey skyscrapers, dust and all sorts of noises every day, it is a relief to go outside breathe and hear nothing than the river.

    So many interesting stories I have discovered by travelling around with the local people make it besides the Songtsam Lodge worth going to Benzilan!

    Keep on going to show these amazing photographs about the world.



    • Hi Natascha, likewise, very nice to meet fellow travellers! I hope you discover more hidden places in China and lets keep in contact! All our best & happy travels!

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