>American dude lives in Nepal for a number of years bro-ing it up with the Dalai Lama, meditating and translating ancient Buddhist scriptures >comes across a scroll describing a secret entrance to Shangri-la hidden behind a gigantic waterfall in some gorge >legends about a giant waterfall had abounded in the region for years but were dismissed as local legends by 18th century british explorers, the same legends that inspired Lost Horizon >dude spends years preparing for the search itself by going on meditation retreats and by making expeditions to sacred areas he was told by high-up monks he would need to visit before he would be able to find the waterfall > finally mounts an expedition to find the waterfall and spends weeks hiking through near-impenetrable jungle, steep mountainous terrain, intense storms, floods, bugs, animals etc >finally discovers a 100+ foot waterfall in a remote gorge roughly where the legends say it was located, narrowly beating a Chinese expedition searching for the same waterfall and making world news
Him and his team spotted a slightly-larger then person sized hole in the rock close to the waterfall that looked like it went into the rock and formed an entrance to a cave or something but in order to access it they would have had to brought different equipment that would have allowed them to rappel down to the entrance from 50 feet above and I think they didn't have the equipment.
There is Buddhist philosophy discussed throughout the book especially in how it relates to mountaineering and special regions or places which is cool. The author seemed to go with the idea that ultimately places are just places and that its insignificant in the long run and that the real power of a location is not in its doorway to a secret realm but in its capacity to allow us to become more attuned to reality and existence.
There was something about how the Chinese team was planning to repel down to the cave entrance but I never heard anything more of it, sometimes I think about whether at the highest levels of the Chinese government whether its some sort of state secret that they discovered a portal to an alternative universe/metaphysical realm.
It was technically within Tibet and so within Chinese territory and soon after the author got back they closed off the area and forbid backpacking/exploring there. It is hard for westerners to get into Tibet what with the crackdown and strict controls the Chinese have on everything there.
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