Archive for the ‘Lhasa Travel’ Category

Shigatse Lhatse Tingri Road Trip, Shigatse Lhatse Tingri Bus Trip

Sunday, August 28th, 2011
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Plan your Tibet tour? Are you keen on a life long trip to Mount Everest Base Camp (EBC)? Tingri County is a final springboard for your going to the Mt.Everest Base Camp (EBC). Tingri County is located 100km to the northwest of Mr.Everest Base Camp. People often choose to stay overnight in Tingri and get recharged before driving to EBC next day.

Tingri County is situated between the city of Shigatse and Zhangmu County ( China’s border town adjoining Nepal ). So get to Tingri County, you may first reach Shigatse from where you continue your road trip to Tingri or you may choose to get to Tingri from Zhangmu abutting Nepal.

Today I have just made a bus road trip to Tingri from Shigatse. Hopefully my Shigatse Tingri road trip report will be helpful in planning your own road trip from Shigatse to Tingri County.

The road from Shigatse to Tingri is a highway officially named Highway No.318, also known as “China Nepal Friendship Road” connecting Lhasa and Kandumandu (passing through Shigatse, Lhatse and Tingri in between).

The road distance between Shigatase and Tingri County is 240km. If you drive a land cruiser, the road trip will take about 3 hours, and over 4 hours if you travel on a bus. In the course of the road trip, you will pass by another county – Lhatse County and two mountain passes – Tsola Pass (4500m) and Gyatsola (5050m). In general, the road trip is an easy driving experience with beautiful views.

Shigatse – Lhatse 150km
To reach Tingri County, you will first drive by Lhatse County, which is 150km to the southwest of Shigatse. It is a two-lane asphalt road with smooth road surface for most parts. In some areas, the road is a little bumpy.

It is a two-lane asphalt road

It is a two-lane asphalt road

The landscape and vegetation on the way are multiple including grassland, rape seeds, rivers, desert, barley fields, high mountains as well as Tibetan villages.

Passing by a Tibetan Village

Passing by a Tibetan Village

Driving by a tributary of Yalu Tsangpo

Driving by a tributary of Yalu Tsangpo

A glimpse of a field of barley in a fertile basin

A glimpse of a field of barley in a fertile basin

A grassland dotted with yaks, cows…

A grassland dotted with yaks, cows…

Driving through Gobi and desert

Driving through Gobi and desert

For the trip from Shigatse to Lhatse, you largely drive in valleys with different landforms and vegetation on both sides of the road. You also have to climb over a high mountain with the altitude of 4500m.

Now we are going to pass through the 4500m Tsola Pass. Climb over the mountain and before you get to Lhatse, you will drive by a fork road branching off to Sakya Monastery. So if you are interested in visiting Sakya Monastery, you can make a side trip to Sakya Monastery here, a round trip with 60km.

Turn left at the fork and make a side trip to Sakya Monastery

Turn left at the fork and make a side trip to Sakya Monastery

In Lhatse County, two important roads are met with one road extending to Zhangmu (317KM) and another to Shiquanhe County in Ali Region (1072km). You are supposed to have your Aliens’ Travel Permit checked at the checkpoint of Lhatse. If you visit EBC or go to Zhangmu, you must apply for Aliens’s Travel Permit at the police office in Shigatse.

The roads to Zhangmu and to Ali Region are met in Lhatse

The roads to Zhangmu and to Ali Region are met in Lhatse

Aliens’s Travel Permit 

Aliens’s Travel Permit

Lhatse – Tingri 90km
To get from Lhatse to Tingri, you will drive through Gyatsola Pss with a sea level of 5050. Over the pass, you are already in the Mt.Everest Protection Zone. Driving through Gyatsola Pass is the highlight of the road trip from Shigatse to Tingri with stunnng views of over 6000m snow mountains arrounding you.
We are passing through Gyatsola Pass 5050m decorateed with a huge number of prayer flags.
White clouds, Snow Mountain and Alpine Meadows. More snow mountains in sight!

More snow mountains in sight!

   

Now we reach Baiba Village of Tingri County. You again will have your Aliens’s Travel Permit to be checked at the entrance to the Baiba Village. Tingri County is mainly composed of Shegar Town, Gangkar Town (Old Tingri) and Baiba Village.

The government of Tingri County is located in Shegar Town. Baiba Village is administered by Shegar Town. Most of the hotels including the best hotel – Gomolangma Hotel ( where we stay ) are located in Baiba Village in Shegar Town of Tingri County, not located in Shegar Town itself in Tingri County. Shegar Town is where Tingri Government is located.

Have your Aliens’s Travel Permit to be checked at the entrance to the Baiba Village

have your Aliens’s Travel Permit to be checked at the entrance to the Baiba Village

The only street in the Baiba Village of Shegar Town of Tingri County

The only street in the Baiba Village of Shegar Town of Tingri County

Gomolangma Hotel in Baiba Village of Shegar Town of Tingri County

Gomolangma Hotel

Shigatse Lhatse Tingri Road Trip Tips
1. Apply for Aliens’s Travel Permit in Shigatse
2. Be clear of the different place names:
1) Baiba Village
2) Shegar Town
3) Gangkar Town (Old Tingri)
4) Tingri County

3. There are daily long-distance buses between Shigatse and Tingri County.

Any questions,  just drop a line.

Drak Yerpa, My trip to Drak Yerpa Monastery

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
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Plan your Lhasa Tour? In addition to including such stereotyped visits covering Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Temple, Norbulingka and so on, don’t forget to add an excursion to Drak Yerpa Monastery, which is located about 40km northeast to the city center of Lhasa.
 
There are two popular Tibetan verses in relation to Drak Yerpa. One verse says that “While Tibet‘s holy place is in Lhasa, Lhasa’s holy place in Drak Yerpa”. Another verse goes like that “Visiting Lhasa without going to Drak Yerpa is just like making a new clothe without adding the collar”. These two verses pinpoint the importance of Drak Yerpa in the hearts of the common Tibetan pilgrims.
 
I’ve done a little research about Drak Yerpa’s origin. The Drak Yerpa Monastery was first built as one of the meditation temples by Songtsen Gampo for his Nepalese Princess, Bhrikuti. The monastery was named after the valley where it was situated. Later many buddhist masters came here for meditation including the masters from India. Now Drak Yerpa has become one of the four meditation areas in Tibet.
 
Drak Yerpa Monastery is a hermitage built on a hillside of the mountain at the altitude of 4885 meters. The hermitage is composed of many meditation caves. Some say there are now still 80 meditation left on the hillside. Some houses were built to accommodate the caves, hence cave temples. So actually Drak Yerpa is a cave monastery. Many buddhist statues in the house or the temple were caved from natural rocks.
 
This morning we set off eastward at 9:30am from Lhasa city center along Nachan Road. It is a scenic drive with Lhasa River on our left side. Lhasa River is one of the important tributaries of Yalu Tsangpo, the mother river of Lhasa.

It is a scenic drive with Lhasa River on our right side

 
Since Drak Yerpa is located at the sea level of 4885 meters while the city of Lhasa at the altitude of 3600 meters, the big altitude difference means that we have to drive upward along the zigzag mountains. About half hour later we drive through the Nachanla Pass at the alititude of 4500 meters. The pass is decorated with numerous prayer flags.

Drive through the Nachanla Pass at the alititude of 4500 meters

 
 
Crossing the pass, we drive down to the Yerpa Village where we are going to turn to the northeast and drive in the Yerpa Valley up towards to Drak Yerpa Monastery. So at the Yerpa Village, we have to goodbye to Lhasa River running east to Lhasa.

We have to goodbye to Lhasa River running east

 
This is the Yerpa Village, a Tibetan village, which is located along the Yerpa Valley. Later we are told that many monks are from Yerpa Village. The monks are fed by their families down in the village.
 

This is the Yerpa Village, a Tibetan village

 
The main road forks at the Yerpa Village, we branch off the main road leading to Lindrup County, we turn left into the Yerpa Valley for another 15km mountain road drive to our destination – Drak Yerpa. There is a signboard at the fork indicating the direction to Drak Yerpa with distance and altitude information.

There is a signboard at the fork indicating the direction to Drak Yerpa

 
 
The 15km mountain road is divided into two sections – the first 5 km road built with asphalt while the rest 10km road is poorly paved with crushed stones, the macadam pavement. The 15km drive is accompanied by the stunning views on the both sides. We still see some village houses located in the valley sparsely.
 

The first 5 km road built with asphalt

 
The Drak Yerpa is in sight! It is located on the hillside of the mountain in the northeast side of the Yerpa Valley with the peaks covere by white clouds accompanied by huge number of prayer flags to its west.

The Drak Yerpa is in sight!

 
We are closing in on the Drak Yerpa and high on the winding mountain road. I turn my head and catch a beautiful view of the valley we have just passed and the distant Lhasa River. The barley fields are formed in the beautiful terraces.

Catch a beautiful view of the valley

 
A mountain of five coloured prayer flags.
 

A mountain of five coloured prayer flags.

 
We are approaching the parking lot of Drak Yerpa. A signboard standing by the parking lot tells we are near our destination.
 

We are approaching the parking lot of Drak Yerpa

 
People begin to get off the bus and are amazed by the stunning views on the all directions.
 

People begin to get off the bus and are amazed by the stunning views on the all directions.

 
I stand on the parking lot and take this picture. High on the hillside dotted by brilliant house temples and caves. Also we find lots of collapsed houses. People can imagine that in its prime period, there would be more caves and temples accommodating more monks in Drak Yerpa.  
 

High on the hillside dotted by brilliant house temples and caves

 
The temple houses are built on the hillside accommodating the caves.

The temple houses are built on the hillside accommodating the caves.

 
More temple houses clung to the hillside.

More temple houses clung to the hillside

 
A close look at a hillside temple
 

A close look at a hillside temple

 
Due to high altitue and limted travel time, we decide to climb up to visit only one nearest temple. The entrance fee for Drak Yerpa is RMB30 per person. We start to climb the steps up to the temple, a few local Tibetan vendors waiting for us on the path selling prayer flags to be hung high up on the prayer area to the west of the dotted temple houses. They charge RMB 25 for a dozen of prayer flags. They will have the prayer flags hung people have just bought to the prayer flag area.

a few local Tibetan vendors waiting for us on the path selling prayer flags

 
We are climbing on the steps leading to the first temple clung to the hillside. People have to walk slowly because of the high altitude.
 

We are climbing on the steps leading to the first temple

 
People are turning the prayer wheels clockwise and walking toward the unknown temple.
 

People are turning the prayer wheels clockwise and walking toward the unknown temple

 
People are entering the red and white temple house.

People are entering the red and white temple house

 
 
The visit to the unknown temple turns out to be a very good experience. The monk in charge of the small cave temple allows us to take photos inside and have a nice talk with all the people visiting his temple.

People are having a nice talk with the monk

 

We are allowed to take pictures insde the cave temple

Rock carving statue inside the cave temple

After finishing the visit to the temple, we start to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains – Alpine meadows.
 

Alpine meadows

Alpine meadow on the mountain opposite the mountain where Drak Yerpa is located.

Alpine meadow on the mountain opposite the mountain where Drak Yerpa is located

 
Before we walk down to the parking lot and finish our Drak Yerpa tour, we have a final look at the valley viewed from high on the hillside.

we have a final look at the valley high on the hillside

 
Drak Yerpa Travel Tips:
During tourism peak season in Lhasa, there are public buses going to Drak Yerpa with the bus terminal near the square of Jokhang Temple. If you visit Drak Yerpa in winter, you are able to enjoy the snow view on the mountains.

The Pilgrim Kora in Lhasa, Lhasa Pilgrim circuits

Sunday, August 21st, 2011
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Plan your Lhasa tour? You are highly recommended to feel the Tibetan Buddhist culture by performing kora together with the local pilgrims.
 
Pilgrim kora is a path (circuit) around a temple or a sared site which is performed by walking in a clockwise direction. Tibetan buddhists come to from all over Tibet to perform kora.
 
Pilgrims perform kora in the manner of chanting mantras, spinning their handheld prayer wheels or prostrating themselves aimed at increasing their suffering. Similar to prayer flags and spinning prayer wheels, kora performing is done for the purpose of having a peaceful life and happy afterlife.
 
In Lhasa, there are four major kora (cirsuits) – Inner Kora, Middle Kora, Outer Kora and Potala Palace Kora. The Inner Kora refers to the circuit inside Jokhang Temple; Middle Kora is the path around the exterior of Jokhang Temple; Outer Kora is known as the Lingkhor Circuit, the longest kora in Lhasa and walking around Lingkhor Kora takes about 2 and half hours; Potala Palace Kora refers to the path around Potala Palace taking 40 minutes for one circle walking.
 
A pilgrim prostrates himself along the Potala Palace Kora

A pilgrim prostrates himself along the Potala Palace Kora

 
 
An act of a meditative exercise
 

An act of a meditative exercise

 
Walking around the kora while spinning prayer wheels and chanting mantras

Walking around the kora while spinning prayer wheels and chanting mantras

 
Prostrating in front of Jokhang Temple

Prostrating in front of Jokhang Temple 1

 

Prostrating in front of Jokhang Temple

I join the pilgrims on their kora, and walking shoulder to shoulder

I join the pilgrims on their kora, and walking shoulder to shoulder