AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Tibet Tour: Day 4

Tibet Tour: Day 4


Posted on May 21, 2014

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. 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. 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. 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! 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! 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...

Read More
Tibet Tour: Day 3

Tibet Tour: Day 3


Posted on May 20, 2014

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. 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. 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. 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,...

Read More