Q: Tell me about yourself A: I was born in an industrial park about 50km from Tianjin . It was a tiny oilfield and I'd never left there until I was 19 when I graduated from high school and gained admission into Sun Yat-sen University. I'm lousy at mathematics and spent little time studying, so I ended up failing 32 subjects. When I decided to leave for Yunnan , I really didn't give it much thought. I don't enjoy cities. Neither do I like to be caught in the trap of a so-called 'successful life'. My friends told me I was wasting my life, so did my parents. How did you start the business? My close friend Lin Yining had been to Shangri-la four times and loved this place with all his heart. For a long time, he's been looking for an opportunity to stay and build a real connection with this wonderful place. So when the former owner decided to go to America we were happy to accept his offer to run the hostel. My first visit was in January. There were not many tourists because of the cold and I don't enjoy travelling, so I stayed at the Rockside Hostel and watched movies every day. Also, I took photos of the old town - almost 2,000. On my way to Shangri-la, I met some of the Conservation International staff. They were doing research on a Tibetan village called Hamagu and that was how I became attached to the village. How has Shangri-la changed? In January, it was still a place of primitive simplicity - it didn't have so many jewellery stores. The biggest change is the departure of local Tibetan families. They are moving out of town and their houses are being transformed into stores. There is no way to avoid pulling down the old buildings. We see them as cultural heritage but the local people would see new ones as a better life and better housing. How is business? The business can't be described as good. Our hostel is a very old building and we don't want to destroy its traditional elements. That's why we don't have many customers. You have to understand that in China, comfort is still regarded as the most important thing on a trip. People are not able to appreciate things beyond that yet. This is our first year and we've put a lot of money in the hostel. Our annual income is about 40,000 to 50,000 yuan. I can only say we are lucky to make ends meet. Have you had any problems? Many innkeepers are from China's major cities. They came down to Yunnan for only one reason - to get away from the roar of the city. Yet we have had many arguments with our landlords. Once, an innkeeper suggested writing a letter to the governor of the Diqing area, and the other innkeepers and I seconded the motion. His landlord had reneged on his contract and rented the house to someone else with a better offer. And a similar thing happened to our hostel. It happens a lot here. How has this experience influenced you? I have to admit that I didn't see all these problems coming before I got here. Actually, I thought I would be able to sink my teeth into writing. I think I'll stay in Shangri-la for two years. And then I would like to go abroad for further education - maybe to France, with my girlfriend.