After a bit of a break, it’s back my series of post of Southern China and Tibet. I’m picking up where I left off, Day 8, when we arrived in Gyantse.
0830: Breakfast. The breakfast room at Gyantse hotel is here the most vibrant I have come across anywhere. All the walls had murals that depicted rural scenes, the ceilings had colourful patterns and the tables decorated with the bright satin cloth. It actually reminded me of being in a temple in Sri Lanka.
0930: After breakfast, we started continued our journey to Shigatse, 100km from Gyantse. Quick photo stop to capture a last picture of the Gyantse town, and the surrounding wall.
1015: Bathroom break, at a road side flour mill. Here, Barley is milled using a water mill.
The mill house is built above a stream, and the flowing water turns the mill inside, which in turn grinds the barley.
Gyantse is known in Tibet for its lush vegetation, thanks to the nutritious soil and good weather. Food from this region is the best anywhere in Tibet, our guide told us as he bought some flour to take back to his family in Lhasa.
Back on the road, we saw many fields being ploughed the traditional way, using Yaks.
Houses in this region were mostly farm houses. Almost all of them had two storeys, with the ground floor having roller shutters. Our guide told us this is because that they ground floor is used for storage and the first floor for living space.
1200: By midday, we had arrived in Shigatse. Shigatse is 280km Southwest of Lhasa and is Tibet’s second largest city. It is 3,840 m above sea level (so lower than Gyantse, which is 3997 m, but higher than Lhasa which is 3660 m).
We headed to our home for the night, the Tashi Choten Hotel. This turned out to be the best hotel we’ve stayed in Tibet so far.
After lunch, we went to visit the Tashi Lungpo Monastery, which is one of the most famous in Tibet.
The Monastery dates back to 1447 and is the seat of the Panchen Lama. In its heyday, the monastery housed 4000 monks and had four Tantric Colleges. The monastery was ransacked in 1791 by the Nepalese army, and then again in the 1960 during the Cultural revolution, but it had since been restored.
Despite the heat of the mid-day we saw many Tibetans doing a Kora, or a pilgrimage, walking a circular route around monastery.
We visited several of the shrines inside the temple. Photographs inside are not allowed.
As we left the monastery, there was a call from our travel agent. Our flight from Chengdu to Colombo in 3 days time had been cancelled. Due to the Easter Sunday bombings, China (along with many other countries) had advised against travel to Sri Lanka until further notice. As a result, our Air China flight from Chengdu to Colombo had been cancelled. We were rebooked on a different flight, but this meant that we would be catching an internal flight from Chengdu to Gunagzhou, and flying from Guangzhou to Colombo.
After the monastery, we visited the local market.
After buying some souvenirs, we called it a night relatively early. Travel fatigue was catching up to us, and the Acute Mountain Sickness was still with us.
Tomorrow is our last day in Tibet. We will head back to Lhasa, and catch the flight back to Chengdu.