Archive for the ‘Shigatse Travel’ Category
On August 25, 2011, together with 24 group members on a 35-seat bus, aftere 5 hours’ bumpy drive, we successfully reached the Mt.Everest Base Camp and (EBC) and saw the unparalleled beauty of the snow covered peak of Mt.Everest under a clear sky. I’d like to make a trip report on our exciting trip, which may be helpful for those who have the same dream to view the highest mountain in the world at a shortest distance as a common tourist.
All the 24 foreign travelers on our tour group were from Venezuela. In the past few days all the way from Lhasa to Yamdroke Lake, Nangartse, Gyantse, Shigatse and Tingri, our bus driver and I used every chance to inquiry about the road condition leading to the Mt.Everest Base Camp through other drivers and travelers who had just returned from the Everest Base Camp since it was our first time to visit Mt.Everest. But our local Tibetan tour guide having been to Mt.Everest Base Camp for many times was very carefree and confident about the trip.
Later we knew a bus trip from the main National Highway 318 to the Mt. Everest Base Camp would take 5 or 6 hours for a 100km mountain road mainly due to the poor and bumpy dirt road, but 3 and half hours for a land cruiser.
On August 24, 2011, we had a very easy schedule starting from Shigatse at 11:00am and arriving at Baiba Township of Shegar Town in Tingri at 3:00pm. Later in the afternoon we either took a break at our lodging hotel – Qomolangma Hotel or wandered on the only street in the Baiba Township, grabbing some snacks and water, or bottled oxygen for the next day’s expedition.
We all agreed to get up early due to the long road trip the next day. To our pleasant surprise, Qomolangma Hotel was very cooperative and ready to provide breakfast or dinner at any time clients demanded. We planned to get up at 4:00am and set the breakfast at 4:30am the next day.
Though in August, in the early morning we all felt a little bit cold because of the day and night temperature difference on the plateau. Some of the tourists had bought bottled
oxygen from the shops on the street in the township just in case. Sunglass, sunscreen, sun hats and water were basic for the long and hard road trip at an average sea-level of 4000m. We set off at 5:30am from Qomolangma Hotel and it was still a little dark outside. I took my first photo on our long march to Mt.Everest.
It was still a liitle dark outside
Baiba Township in Tingri – Lugongong Police Checkpost
We left Baiba Township and drove along the National Highway 318 down to the south for about 10km, then we had to stopped for border check at Lugonggong Police Checkpost. Everybody on the bus must get off and wait in line inside the check building for check one by one. After we came back from Mt.Everest Base Camp to Baiba Township, we would have to do the same check again. As a foreigner, you must have two permits – Travel Tibet Permit and Alien Travel Permit.
We had to stopped for border check at Lugonggong Police Checkpost
After finishing the border security check and we all got on the bus again, and continued to drive about 7km along the National Highway 318, then we saw a signbord pointing to the special road forking from the main asphalt road to Mt.Everest. Now we knew we were about to be on the bumpy road to fulfil our dream.
Embarked on the 100km Mt.Everest Base Camp dirt road
A signbord pointing to the special road forking from the main asphalt road to Mt.Everest Base Camp.
The moment we touched on the mountain road, we realized that why the 100km Everest Base Camp Road would take 5 or 6 hours for a bus trip. The dirt road condition was terrible, tough, harsh, bumpy like a washing board with a corrugated surface and some full of dirt holes!
Bumpy like a washing board with a corrugated surface
Not long we had to stop again to have our entrance tickets checked for Qomolangma (Mt.Everest) Nature Reserve at the checkpoint in the first village on our 100km road trip.
Entrance tickets checked for Qomolangma (Mt.Everest) Nature Reserve
About two hours’ascent drive to the Gula Pass (Zegula Pass ) 5200m, a platform for viewing Mt.Everest
Now we began to have about two hours’s ascent drive along the rugged dirt road up to the pass – Gula Pass (or Zegula pass). Some crazy climbers would get up in small hours and get to the Pass to catch the sunrise over Mt.Everest! We were very lucky that the sky was clear with a fine day. All of us expected to be on the platform on the Gula Pass to see Mt.Everest. For this, we had to endure endless twists and turns, and hairpin bends which elevated us little by little towards the azure sky and the pass.
We had to endure endless twists and turns, and hairpin bends.
We were elevated little by little towards the azure sky and the pass.
Now were about to drive though the Gula Pass 5200m.
Just over the Gula Pass 5200m, there was a open platform for people to park and view the magnificent Mt.Everest and other peaks. All of us were amazed by the view unfolding before us and couldn’t belive the beautiful views of the snow mountains were real! It was so beautiful!
People were busy taking pictures of the fantastic beauty of highest mountains in the world.
A group photo of the 24 tourists from Venezuela
I coundn’t help asking our tour guide to shoot a pciture of me with Mt.Everest.
Let’ have a close look at the magnificent Mt.Everest!
Again two hours’descent drive to the Mt.Everest Base Camp from Gula Pass 5200m
Now still excited, we started to drive down the pass toward the base. “Hiking up is easy, but hiking down is difficult”. We had to drive slowly along the zigzag roads. The scenery was magnificent with solemn Himalayan hillsides framing here and there on the way. We passed small Tibetan settlements, nomadic herdsmen wandering across the wide arid plains, yaks, wild rabbits, wild sheep, dzopkyos (yak-cow hybrids), and awe-inspiring mountain peaks – a paradise on earth!
We drove slowly down the Gula Pass 5200m with solemn Himalayan hillsides framing before us.
The yaks walked carefreely on the road.
We were approaching Basong Township ( Pagsum Hamlet ).
We passed through Basong Township ( Pagsum Hamlet ), the villagers here could see Mt.Everest all year round!
Checkpost at the last Village – Quzong Hamlet (Quzong Village) before we reached Mt.Everest Base Camp, we again had to go through the border check at the checkpost at Quzhong Village, the last village on the way to the base.
The border check at the checkpost at Quzhong Village, the last village on the way to the base.
Rongbuk Monastery 5154m
After Quzong Village, we drove along the valley leading to Rongbuk Monastery. On the way, we saw some climbers rode bikes to the camp. Rongbuk Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Nyingma sect. Now there are some nuns and monks libing in the temple. The monastery lies by the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier at 5,154m. It is the highest religious building in the world. Now it provides some basic accommodations for climbers. Rongbuk Monastery is considered as a gateway to Mt. Everest. From this good location you get breathtaking views of the magnificent Mt.Everest.
Some climbers rode bikes to the camp
The narrow road along the Rongbuk River leading to Rongbuk Monastery.
Now we were passing by Rongbuk Monastery where you would have a nice view of Mt.Everest.
Tent community (Za-Rombuk)
The Mt.Everrest Base Camp is about 8km south of Rongbuk Monastery. In the middle of the way between the Camp and the Monastery, there is a “Tent Community”, also known in the tourist book as “Za-Rombuk”. The “tent community” is set up by locals for 6 months of each year. The tents in Za-Rombuk seems cozy and warmer, and friendly. Climbers or leisure travlers share their temporary home. The tents are windproof, spacious. Heating comes from the stove in the middle of the room which burns yak and goat dung.
You can choose a bed, take some blankets, or ust blanket yourself and go to sleep. Tthere is no running tape water, but each tent usually takes water from the local snow-melt stream sand has a barrel in the tent. The toilets are the standard squat over a hole in the ground.
Tent Coomunity is also a parking lot as well a leisure place for relaxation. We parked our bus in the tent community area. From the “Tent Community”, we had to take the local shuttle bus (environment protection bus ) to the real Camp, about 4km south of the Tent Community.
This is the “Tent Community” compound, 4km north of the EBC camp, where people can stay overnight, buying water or snacks, as well as it is a parking lot.
Inside one of the tents for overnight stay.
We had to use the local shuttle bus to reach the real base camp at the bus fare of RMB 25
On our way from Tent Community to EBC camp
Mt.Everest Base Camp 5200m
When we reached the Mt.Everest Base camp, everybody again had to go through security check lining up at the small room by the entrance to the base camp. Once inside the compound of the base, people were allowed to ascend a hill to have a clear view of the magnificent Mt.Everest. Normal tourists were not allowed to go down the hill to climb Mt.Everest. It was not the best time for Mt.Everest climbing, so there were no tents here in the base camp. March to Mary, Setember abd October are the best season for Mt.Everest climbing. The Rongbuk river flows through the valley, constituting an amazing view of water, peaks, blue sky…
Everybody again had to go through security check at the small room by the entrance to the base camp.
I stood on the top of the hill and turnd north to have a picture of the base camp below.
I stood on the top of the hill and took a picture of Mt.Everest in the south
People were crazy about Mt.Everest .
I took a picture with Mr. Juan from Venesuela.
Tingri to Mt.Everest Base Camp Travel Tips:
1. Better for a small group using a land cruiser instead of bus tour
2. Ready for Bottled oxygen if you are not confident about your health
3. Water and snacks
4. Sunglass, sunscrean, altitude sickness medicine
5. Good sleep the day before
6. Suggested to stay in Tingri for overnight
7. Alien Travel Permit for Mt.Everest Base Camp
8. Clothes for temperature difference
9. Best time: March, May, September and October
Plan your Tibet tour? Shigatse is highly recommended to on your travel plan if you have enough time for travelling in Tibet. Shigatse refers to both “Shigatse City” and “Shigatse Prefecture”. Shigatse City is the seat of Shigatse Prefecture.
Shigatse Prefecture is composed of one county-level city (Shigatse City), 17 counties and one fort (Zhangmu). The 17 counties include Gyantse, Bailang, Lhatse, Sakya, Gangba, Dingjie, Tingri, Nyalam, Kangma, Yadong, Renbu, Nanmulin, Xietongmen, Jielong, Angren, Shaga and Zhongba. Shigatse Prefecture has a population of over 66,0000 with over a dozen of ethnic groups including Tibetan, Han, Hui, Mongolian, Tu, Manchus and Miao.
Shigatse City is located 250km southwest of Lhasa and 480km northeast of Zhangmu Fort. It lies at the confluence of Yarlung Zangbo (aka Brahmaputra) River and the Nyang River (Nyanchue) with the altitude of 3800m. Shigatse City administrates 2 subdistricts, and 10 townships around the city. Shigatse City has a population of over 90,000.
Shigatse City is the second largest city in Tibet with a history of over 500 years. Historically Shigatse was the ancient capital of Ü-Tsang province. Shigatse is also the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas.
Shigatse City is the hub of the transportation network connecting Lhasa, West Tibet, Gyantse, Nepal and Mt.Everest. The National Highway 318 (China Nepal Friendship Highway) passes by Shigatse City.
On August 23, 2011, I visited Shigatse City for the first time together with a 24 pax tour group from Venezuela. We set off for Shigatse City at 3:00pm from Gyantse, 90km southeast of Shigatse City. It was one and half hours’ comfortable drive due to the smooth asphalt road from Gyantse to Shigatse.
We had to drive very fast to catch up with buying the entrance tickets for Tashilhunpo Monastery before it stopped tickets selling at 6:00pm on the day since the next morning our local tour guide would leave us and go to the police station for getting the travel permit for Mt.Everest and Zhangmu Fort. The Tibet Travel Permit was not enough for entering Mt. Everest and Zhangmu border. Foreign visitors have to register and get another travel permit at the police station either at Lhasa or Shigatse for Alien Travel Permit for border area like Mt.Everest and Zhangmu Fort.
The monk ticket collector had our entrance tickets checked
Located on the east side of the hill in the west of the city of Shigatse, Tashilhunpo Monstery is the seat of panchen Lama and one of the six great Gelugpa temples along with Sera Temple, Drepung Temple, Gandan Monastery, Taer Monastery and Labrang Monastery. Built 1447 by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama, the temple once housed over 4000 monks, now there are about 1,000.
Tashilhunpo Monstery is the seat of panchen Lama
Some of the templs, institutons and halls are open to the public. The most attractive is the 27me high statue of Jampa ( Maitreya ) Buddha in the Temple of Maitreya. It was built in 1914 by the Ninth Panchen Lama to hold a gigantic statue of the Maitreya Buddha. We were not allowed to take photos or videos inside the temple. But if you would like to pay around RMB 180, you will be permitted to use your camera for taking pictures.
Entering the Temple of Maitreya
One of the oldest building in the monastery was the temple for housing the tomb of the fourth Panchen Lama. But unfortunately it was closed. Then we moven to the temple east of the Temple of Maitrya. It was the temple housing the tombs of Panchen Lamas from fifth to ninth.
Inside the temple housing the tombs of Panchen Lamas from fifth to ninth
Then we visited the temple built housing the tomb of the 10th Panchen Lama. On Jan 28, 1989, the 10th Panchen Lama passed away. The central government decided to erect the temple for him, using 614 kilograms of gold, 275 kilograms of silver and over 10,000 diamonds of various kinds for the golden pagoda and the hall.
Housing the tomb of the 10th Panchen Lama
The main Chanting Hall is not to missed. Lastly we went to the grand prayer hall. It happened that a group of monks were chanting in the main hall. We were alloaed to walk around and evebn through the rows of sitting monks chanting in the hall. If you are willing to pay about RMB 180, you are allowed to take pictures iniside the hall.
Some monks whi had finished chanting went out of the prayer hall.
A snapshot of the monks talking to each other
The next morning our tour guided went to the police station for abtaining the travel permits for the tour group. I used the half day time wandering the streets to get a first hand information in the city of Shigatse.
In general, Shigatse is a small city though it was the second largest city in Tibet. There were four main north to south streets, starting from west to east, they were Shandong Street ( 山东路 ), Shanghai Street ( 上海路), Heilongjiang Street ( 黑龙江路) and Nyanchue Road （年河路） with the Nyanchue River west of Nyanchue Road. So the four main roads and the Nyanchue River run through the city from north to south.
There are two main streets running from west to east – Xueqiang Street(雪强路）, Qingdao Street（青岛路）and Mt.Everest Road （珠峰路 Zhufeng Road）. The busy Walking Street is just near Tashilhunpo. The major hotels in Shigatse are located on Shandong Street, Shanghai Street and Mt.Everest Street.
Shigatse City is a walkable city. Tashilhunpo is at the west end of Mt.Everest Street (Zhufeng Street). Coming out of the Temple, turn right and you will enter the walking street running from northeast to southwest in Shigatse lined with front stores selling all kinds of local products.
At the northeast end of the Walking Street, turn north and you will see the Shigatse Fortress which is still under the construction at the time of writing. If you turn east, you will be on Qingdao Street.
This time we stayed at Shen Kang Hotel (0892 -8822922 )located at the northern tip of Shandong Street, which is close to the walking street. The popular Shigatse Hotel is located on the Shanghai Street. Shigatse Tian Lin Grand Hotel is in the middle of Mt.Everest Street. Gang Gyen Hotel is located at the west end of Mt.Everest Street, close to Tashilhunpo Monastery.
Shen Kang Hotel
Shigatse Hotel on Shanghai Road
Shigatse Tian Lin Hotel in the middle of Mt.Everest Road (Zhufeng Road)
Gang Gyen Hotel at the west end of Mt.Everest Road (Zhufeng Road)
The tourist map of Shigatse
Shigatse Travel Tips:
1. Shigatse Tourism Complaint Phones: 13889028808, 13908922542
2. The Bus Station on Shanghai Road: Buses to Lhasa, Lhatse, Tingri and Zhangmu
3. Tashilhunpo Monastery: RMB 55
4. If go further south to Mt. Everest and Zhangmu, apply for a travel permit in Shigatse
5. Shigatse Heping Airport has some flights to Lhasa
7. Shigatse and Lhasa railway is under construction
Gyantse (or Jiangzi) is now a county under the administration of Shigatse Prefecture. The Gyantse Town is located 250km southwest of Lhasa and 100km southeast of Shigatse. It takes about 5 hours to drive from Lhasa to Gyantse and 2 hours to drive from Gyantse to Shigatse.
Gyantse is normally considered the third largest town and historically one of the most important regions in Tibet. It has the important transportation hub linking Lhasa, Shigatse and Yadong.
Gyantse is a must to visit place for most first time travelers in Tibet. People either go from Lhasa to Gynatse or go from Shigatse to Gyantse, or from the Nepalese and Chinese border city – Zhangmu Town.
Gyantse lies in the north of the middle section of Nyang Chu River, a tributary of Yula Tsangpo River and surrounded by the continous mountains in the north and south. The major attractions in Gyantse include Gyantse Dzong (Fort), the Palcho Monastery and Palha Manor.
After driving cross Karola Pass which is the divided line between Gyantse County and Langkazi County, we are approaching Gyantse Town. Soon we see an archway written with the welcoming words”The Ancient Gyantse Town welcomes you!”. Now it is almost 2pm.
Gyanstse is full of fertile land with the Nyang Chu River running to the south of Gyantse from west to east. Gyantse is a much developed agricultural county, which is acclaimed as the hometown of barley in the world. On the way to the downtown of Gyantse, we see a great amount of barley fields on the both sides of the road between the mountains.
The town of Gyantse is in sight! The first construction that catches our eyes is Gyantse Dzong dominating the city on a high hill in the west of the town.
With the government policy of “Go West and Develop West”, Gyantse has been entitled to the huge support from othe developed cities and provinces in China incuding Shanghai, which has given Gyantse the greatest assistance in terms of finance and technology. The main road in Gyantse is named “Shanghai Road” in praise of the efforts made Shanghai government.
We arrive at Gyantse at 2pm and all feel much hungry after 5 hours’ driving and sightseeing on the way from Lhasa. There are several restaurants in Gyantse offering western food. We choose Gyantse Kitchen for our lunch. Actually this restaurant mainly offer Nepalese food.
After lunch, we are arranged to visit Palha Manor 2km in the southwest of Gyantse town. We pass the bridge over Nyang Chu River.
Palha Manor is the only remaining manor in the old time in Tibet. It once belonged to one of the three nobilities in Tibet. Before Tibet’s liberation, Palha family had 37 manors, 12 farms, over 30,000 mu of land, 3,000 serfs, in Gyantse, Kangma and Bairang. Now in the remaining manor there are a three-storey building with a residence area of 5,000 square meters. 82 rooms and serf yards and some well preserved property.
Kitchen for serfs
Butlers Room. The manor once had a senior butler, outside butler and inner butler. They had a great power and were responsibel for the host’s life and all trifles around the manor.
The servants house.
After finishing our short trip to Palha Manor, we continue our road trip to Shigatse, 100km northwest of Gyantse. Again we pass by Gyantse Fort.
It is an easy driving from Gyantse to Shigatse along the smooth asphalt road teemed with trees and barley fields.
Gyantse Travel Tips
1. Where to stay in Gyantse
1) Gyantse Hotel 0892 – 8172222
2) Wutse Hotel 0892 – 8172888
3) Jian Zang Hotel 0892 – 8172324
2. Where to dine in Gyantse
1) Gyantse Kitchen 0892 – 8176777
2) Tashi’s 0892 – 8827512
3. Gyantse Shopping