Monasteries and mountains
Gyangze Travel Blog› entry 16 of 33 › view all entries
With just a 2 hour drive on to Gyantse, we continued through a valley of baron hills without any sign of life except the occassional cluster of Tibet style houses with a trickle of water icily flowing through. Stopped briefly to see a mill using traditional techniques of water power to grind the flour. Worthy of a 5 minutes stop.
Gyantse is a relatively small town dominated by a fort and its own djong. With a little free time we found a modern looking cafe. Half full of Chinese military they were very watchful but suprisingly friendly. Looking and smoking over Lev and my shoulder as we looked through the menu they recommended a couple of items off the Chinese only menu. Guided by pictures only, Lev went with their recomendation.
Phalkor monastety found within the fort is more photo friendly than previous Tibetan trips. A small fee and we were ok to take limitless photos of the inside. Another complex of houses for the monks surrounding one central monastery with three inner chapels. The prayer hall big enough for 500 monks in one sitting. The three chapels all containing impressive Buddhas either on top of a stupa or 25 foot tall statues shoulder to shoulder around the outer walls.
The other building of worship in complex is the Kumba Stupa. An impressive building from the outside, it contains 4 levels of Protectors that have various ugly guises and need worshipping to keep evil events happening.
After the tour a few of us went to conquer the hill up to the djong. Unable to find the path and struggled up scree only to find the road on the other side of the hill. Djong closed again but provided good views over the city and monastery. Walked back through the town and became the point of interest and quickly got a crowd following us.
Last day of driving was a big one. 12 hours to get to Lhasa. Thankfully another lovely morning to climb up again over the high passes. With my jeep leading out we got 5 minutes out when we saw a bike crash. Our driver wanted to carry on but we forced him to stop not expecting to see a body lying next to the motorbike. With blood splattered in the road and the bike a mangled mess against a lamppost, not sure whether the crash killed him or the cold if knocking him unconscious, but there was no way back for him.
Leaving Gyantse there was a lot more farmers plots around with well formed irrigation channels. However no sign of anything growing as we climbed back over 4000m. Soon back in amongst ice capped mountains and frozen lakes. Possibly best scenery of trip. Road still in excellent condition but thiniking I would not like to have been building this road in such a harsh environment. Made it over the Karola Pass at 4995m and stopped to get some wonderful panoramic pictures with the lake we had been driving alongside for the past 3 hours in the background.
Our hostal a country mile better than the rest on our trip with electric blankets and in room heaters. Even though at lower altitude, very much needed as still freezing and trying to snow. Having lost the rest of my group, went for a wander out to the local market.
Went to find a mid range restaurant avoiding the expensive looking tourist places and the street vendors, found a little cafe with an English sign in the window. However, unable to make myself understood ordering a tea or chai, went with what sounded like jasmine. Ended up being a half pint of warm milk with yak butter. Not the tastiest in the world but went with it. My picture of ribs wasn't ribs, but luckily turned in to sliced pork with wild mushrooms, chilli and spring onion. Really nice.
Lhasa sightseeing starts tomorrow.