AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Tibet Tour: Day 3

We left Lhatse heading for Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. The bus climbed out of Lhatse and it wasn’t long before we were stopping on the top of a prayer flag shrouded mountain again. This pass was 4,530m above sea level. Beside the car park were some steps up to the top of the hill. Annemarie and I were fine and two German guys also made it up, no-one else attempted the short climb.

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The drive to Shigatse was a sleepy one. We spent most of the morning dozing on and off due to the lack of sleep from the night before. We weren’t alone, almost everyone on the bus hadn’t slept properly and were thus sleeping on the bus. We reached Shigatse at 11:30am and were taken to the hotel. This was a surprise, it was a proper hotel. We had a room with carpets, decent beds, tables, wardrobes, en-suite, etc.

At midday we got back on the bus and went to a restaurant for lunch. Again it was a tourist orientated restaurant, higher prices, knife and forks and plenty of western dishes on the menu. Most people opted for western dishes but Annemarie went for a Tibetan dish. It was very sweet but nice. I had green peppers and pork with a spicy sauce.

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After lunch we walked to the Tashilhunpo Monastery. This is one of the most important monasteries in Tibet. It is the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking Lama, after the Dalai Lama. The monastery was founded in 1447 and has been the seat of the Panchen Lama ever since, gradually expanding with each successive Lama. Most of the monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, when the Chinese seemed to go mad and destroy most of their history plus torture and kill huge numbers of their fellow countrymen. The monastery was saved from total destruction because the Panchen Lama had stayed in Tibet and was under the yoke of the Chinese. He was probably able to broker a deal to ensure the temple still stood.

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Once we’d been taken around the temple we were free to do what we wanted. This was a surprise. We had always thought that in Tibet groups had to stay together at all times, but the rules have been relaxed. We could wander wherever we wanted, alone or in groups. We decided to explore the old town of Shigatse then head up the hillside to the Shigatse Dzong (fort) which is a massive fort on the hillside overlooking the city. It is an imposing sight and so we had to visit it. Unfortunately, it’s closed so we could only walk around the edge of the hillside and look down over the city.

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As we walked back to the hotel to cool off (the air temperature is only about 20°c but the intensity of the sun adds at least another 10°c) we met most of the group. They had searched for a restaurant with outdoor seating and failed. They were sat on small benches in the street drinking their beer. We left them and washed and cooled off then went looking for a restaurant ourselves. It took 20 minutes but we found a great Tibetan restaurant with outdoor dining. We had a really nice meal and the price was reasonably cheap. Why couldn’t we eat in places like this for lunch?

Posted from Rikaze, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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