"I do not fear death, but as I am already here, I would like to live immortality."
When I first visited Garáb in 2003 I remembered the book of James Hilton, Lost Horizon. A world far from everything, surrounded by exquisite natural beauty. I bought the house I looked at almost without thinking. The history of Shangri-La plays in 1931. From the northern part of India, from the city of Baskul 80 British officials are evacuated to Peshawar because of the uprising of the locals.
The airplane is hijacked underway and fly towards Tibet. The plane has an emergency landing among the mountains of the Himalaya. The four survivors find a valley between the mountains where a unique monastery stands. There is central heating in the buildings, bath tubs in the rooms, a huge Western library and a piano. Food is grown in the valley. Those living under the climate of this inner world reach an extraordinary age. The lama leading the monastery is a Catholic monk from Luxembourg named Perrault who is already 250 years old.
The monk constantly developed the place and newcomers attached them to him who found the valley – many of them are well over a hundred years. They do not show their ages. But those, who leave the valley reach their real age fast. The four newcomers are welcomed with love. Three of them find their places, but love arises between the young and handsome English second consul and a Manchu girl living in Shangri-La and they decide to flee. The history of Shangri-La sound like a fairy tale, but it is based on facts!
In reality, Hugh Conway, the British consul in Afghanistan disappears (he was probably on the hijacked plane), then he is found years later in a Chinese hospital in Chongqing. Conway suffers from amnesia, but as a colleague from the British consulate visits him, his memory returns for a while and tells his story, which is recorded by the official. Conway would like to go back to Shangri-La, but his illness makes it impossible, he falls finally in coma and dies.
The doctor tells the official that Conway was taken in the hospital by such an old Chinese lady he has never ever seen. The lady died shortly after. The story was documented by the English authorities, so it can be true. There is somewhere in Tibet an extraordinary place which is called Shangri-La and possesses unique abilities. But nobody ever found Shangri-La!
James Hilton never went to China. The Shangrila mentioned by him in his book is an extraordinary garden somewhere in the mountains of Kunlun. The story raised the interest of National Geographic as articles appeared about the amazingly beautiful places in Eastern Tibet. In 2001 China claimed the name and renamed the provincial town situated at the Yunnan-Tibet border from Zhongdian to Shangri-La. The place is really wonderful. In 2014 I drove 6000 kilometers with my family in the province of Yunnan from south to the north and we visited fantastic places there like Shangri-La.
Unfortunately 60-70% of the 1300 years old town of “Shangri-La” was devastated in the fire of January 2014. We were there 3 weeks after the fire. In the ancient Tibetan writings seven special paradisiacal (garden of Eden) holy places (Nghe-Beyul Khembalung) so called beyuls “hidden places” match Shangri-La. These places were created for monks pulling out from the world by Padmasambhava in the 9th century. According to the Tibetan the name Shangri-La dates back to the word Shambala (garden of Eden) of their language.
In Garáb high above the valley in the forest a meditative holy place was created by Christian monks one thousand years ago where they could pull out from the world. This is why you find the attraction by the spiritual force and beauty of the place.
I do not know if it is right to draw a parallel between a legendary, never found world and Garáb. But I still do.
Conway has found inner peace, the reason for living and love in Shangri-La. I have found the same in Garáb.
My wife Linda is Chinese, she comes from Manchuria as Lo Chen, the beautiful Manchu girl in Shangri-la.
The world has fascinated me even since when I was a small child. There are only a few places in the world where I have not been yet. I have visited many spiritual places, climbed the mountains of Europe, Africa and America, but I felt in Garáb, what Conway found in Shangri-La.
My life and mission
contacted meningitis at the age of 6, I spent 197 days in hospital. In those days 95 % of the children died from this disease or sustained severe brain damage. But God did not wish me to die. When my parents took me home from the hospital, I started to do curious things. I made chopsticks from the branches of a jasmine bush and I ate everything with it, even pea soup... Many thought, that I was not in the lucky 5 %...
I always had strange ways and overdid everything from martial arts to studying.
I graduated from the University of Agricultural Sciences at Gödöllő and the University of Economics in Budapest... I went to MBA and PhD programs to lengthen my university years. Probably the reason for overdoing studying was the fact that there were beautiful girls at the university...
I also started learning languages because of the fairer sex. I learnt Chinese in a year, because I met a Chinese girl in Manchuria, Linda: she became my wife.
I visited China in 1988 for the first time, by now it is my home, just as it was home for our Hunnic ancestors, who sat on the Dragon Throne for 1500 years during the past 5500 years.
There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the path itself.
The Middle Kingdom has a written history of 5500 years and 56 peoples speaking separate languages populate it, who nourish wonderful traditions. But the world of the metropoles suppresses the old traditional-spiritual values. There is nothing left, only the unrestrained hustle after money.
Many say, the God of the Chinese is money. I think it is perfectly true! In China, there is constant competition on the market, we do not know, when is enough, we cannot live and experience the joys of life.
Children are ruined through the overdriven learning, there is nothing before their eyes, only competition: how many points they have reached, in which group they are placed, in which school they will study further. There is no individual development, no individual possibility of progress, because the system does not let it; learning is a race.
I have many Chinese friends and they too wish for a normal life, spirituality, love, nature and the nearness of God... these are all there in Garáb.
Grass is growing, the cows and sheep are grazing, hens are laying eggs, pigs are raised in the forest... in the morning the kids collect the eggs from which we make our breakfast. We know the animals by name. Our cow provides lots of milk, from which we make yogurt, butter and cheese... next year its calf will give milk too.
I watch in the morning, how the peacock poses before the mirrorlike window and the hens are sunbathing on the roof in the first rays of the sun. There are many small joys in farm life, and only those are able to value it, who come from the pulsating world of the skyscrapers.
If we can tear ourselves only for a week from the stressful metropolitan reality, we can recharge ourselves in our Shangri-La, in Garáb, as a discharged phone on the charger. We have lived in Hong Kong with my family for the past 6 years, so I think I can accurately express from our own experience, how it feels.
I have visited Tibet, the fantastic monasteries of Yunnan, among others the place called Shangri-La today. I have been to India more than 40 times, I have been hiking among the mountains of Nepal, I have visited the grave of Sándor Kőrösi Csoma in Darjeeling... I could list it for eternity.
I have climbed twice the Kilimanjaro, climbed the 5895 meters high Uhuru summit to watch the thinning snow after the famous book of Hemingway. In June 2014 I almost died of pulmonary edema at 4600 meters...
But I changed my way of life, observed the advice of my Chinese doctor, drank consciously the herbal infusions... and three months later, on September 25, 2014 I stood at the summit of Uhuru, at the top of Africa. This gave me courage to climb other peaks.
At the same time at 50 years of age I completely changed my way of life and my eating habits. I do not eat meat or drink beer, or anything cold... and it works, though the European doctor said I would die if I climbed over 5000 meters...
In 2015-2016 I tackled twice the adversities of the highest mountain of geographical Europe, the Elbrus of 5642 meters. In 2015 the sleet conquered us and we did not have the time to try again.
But in 2016 I was there again and climbed the western peak from the north side with my three sons. Those who climb know what it means. The 6962 meters peak of the Aconcagua is the highest point of the American continent. Many try but only 30 % succeed.
In this height the oxygen level of the air is 40 % lower than at sea level. At the Big Island of Hawaii I climbed the 4205 meters high Maui Kea, which is the dwelling place of their God, the most holy place.
I think I have ample points of reference to say authentically: Garáb is a special place!