AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Tibet Tour: Day 4

We left Shigatse heading for Gyantse. We’d be there for lunch so this was going to be a short drive. The landscape was still pretty barren but near the road irrigation allowed fields to be sown and trees to line the road. The trees lining the road were good and bad, good in the sense that they made the area look nicer and they are good for the environment, bad because they made taking photos very difficult.

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After a while we stopped on the side of the road. Why? Because the police checkpoints time vehicles between the checkpoints and calculate an average speed. Our driver doesn’t do slow. We had sped the whole way and now we had a 10 minute stop. I suppose it allows for a toilet stop. We wandered around the bus and I climbed up the side of a hill for a bit.

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We drove on further then we stopped again. We had been speeding again and had another 10 minute stop to get our average speed down. Another toilet break… But this time we stopped next to a village, which was overlooked by a ruined fort. The village was interesting, many of the doors were brightly decorated and most of the walls were covered with yak poo.

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We got to Gyanyse just before midday and had half an hour to ourselves. We wandered and bought some drinks and fruit. Interestingly the hotel had been washing the kettles that day and the plug was hanging out to dry!

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After lunch we were taken to Palcho Monastery. The main part of the monastery was interesting but the majority of the monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Only a few buildings remain. The reason tourists come is to see the Kumbum, a massive stupa with 13 floors and over a hundred rooms. It’s known as the one hundred thousand holy images. We went into most rooms on the first floor, skipped the second floor and went around the third floor at a fast pace. There’s only do many Buddha paintings a person can look at!

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The tour was over for the day and we were free to wander. Overlooking the town is Gyantse Dzong, the fort. It is a huge, imposing building on the highest point of land for miles around. We’d asked the guide about it but he said it was closed for restoration (the Chinese had destroyed a lot of this building too!) But the views would be great from up there so we decided to go and take a look anyway. We walked through the edge of the old town and up the road at the back. Getting up there was hard work, we were still at a high altitude so anything strenuous takes a lot more effort and also the sun is incredibly strong making it very hot. We had good views of the old town as we went up.

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Once through the gate we were surprised to find a woman demanding we buy a ticket to see the fort. The tickets were 30 Yuan each (£3), an unexpected cost! We bought the tickets and entered the first rooms of the fort. They were bare and had no description. This was the same for all the rooms we looked in. We have no idea what any room was used for. Most of the rooms were locked anyway. We made our way around the fort and up the hill, until we reached the very top of the fort. The highest point in town! This was where the British had flown the Union Jack when they had marched up here from India in 1904. We enjoyed the views for a while then made our way back down.

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Annemarie overlooking Gyantse

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Gyantse Fortifications

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Gyantse Town

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Posted from Rikaze, Xizang (Tibet), China.

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