Archive for the ‘Tibet Travel’ Category

Drive from Batang to Mangkang

Friday, November 13th, 2015
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Around 3:45 pm after a brief break at the filling station in Batang (巴塘), we again start up our trip along G318 west for our next destination – Mangkang (芒康 ) in Tibet. Mangkang is also known as Markham or Karkam in Tibet, a county under the administration of Qamdo City (昌都) in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Mangkang is located amid the border areas of the three provinces including Sichuan, Tibet and Yunnan. It is adjacent to Batang County in Sichuan on the east and Deqin County in Yunnan on the south. Both the National Highway G318 and G214 run through Mangkang County. It is an important stepping stone to enter the three connected provinces.

It is a 110 km drive from Batang to Mangkang (Karkam). The first 35km drive is easy and uneventful when we pass through Zhubalong Township ( 竹巴龙乡) which is the west tip of Batang County along G318. Zhubalong Township in Batang abuts Zhubalong Township (朱巴龙乡), the east tip of Mangkang (Karkam). The two townships have the same Chinese pinyin ( romanization of Chinese), but with different Chinese characters.

Drive from Batang to Mangkang

Drive from Batang to Mangkang

Passing through Zhubalong Township in Batang, we soon go across Jinsha River Bridge (金沙江大桥) which divides the two townships – Zhubalong Township ( 竹巴龙乡) in Batang and Zhubalong Township (朱巴龙乡) in Mangkang (Karkam).

Jinshan River (金沙江) is largely the dividing borderline between Sichuan and Tibet. We stop at the middle of Jinsha River Bridge, straddling the the two provinces ( Sichuan and Tibet ) while snapping a photo of the borderline sign attached to the bridge cememt handrail.

Tibet Borderline Sign

Tibet Borderline Sign standing in the middle of Jinsha River Bridge

Driving across Jinsha River Bridge (金沙江大桥),  we run into the area of  Zhubalong Township (朱巴龙乡) in Mangkang (Karkam), Tibet. Soon we have to stop at the security checkpoint set up by the local Zhubalong Public Security Bureau.

Mr.Chen and I leave our vehicle in the waiting line and go out to the roadside office windows, taking all the personal travel documents with us – ID card, or passport and driving licences and the vehicle certificate. We see policemen with their weapon resting lazily slung over their shoulders.

Zhubalong Poliemen

Policemen with their weapon resting lazily slung over their shoulders

At the checkpoint, we are offered a speed limit ticket which requests us to drive within two hours to cover the 71 km distance ahead between Zhubalong Township and the downtown of Mangkang. So we have to limit our drive within 2 hours before we get to Mangkang, just 75km away.

We much keep the ticket till the policemen at the checkpoint in Mangkang collect and check it. Why two hours for the 75 km? So slow, like a slow moving snail. The ticket says the road ahead is full of risks with possible falling stones and the fact that some sections are in the state of disrepair.

a speed limit ticket

Zhubalong – Mangkang speed limit ticket

The 71-km G318 Highway from Zhubalong Township to the downtown of Mangkang has complicated geographical conditions. The road is often collapsed in rainy season. The roadside river sometimes encroaches the road. In some areas, the road sinks,  bumpy and muddy.

The most dangerous thing is the falling stones, blocking the road with a potential risk of harming the people on the way. On route, for several times we have to stop  and clear the fallen stones on the road ahead. Sometimes we have to gingerly drive along the cliff swept with the scree.

Zhulongba Mangkang Highway

Clear the fallen stones on the road ahead

The road clings to the sheer cliffs, often with turns and curves, and we have to drive slowly and carefully to avoid colliding with coming vehicles.

Batang Mangkang Road

The road clings to the sheer cliffs

Some sections of the highway are just in a  state of disrepair, muddy, rutted and without any handrails.

Batang Mangkang Road

Some sections of the highway are just in a state of disrepair

Two hours late, around 5:50 pm, we get to the No.01 Checkpoint in the downtown of Mangkang (Karkam). We again have to stop and have our personal ID cards checked and then continue our trip, and this time we get off the National Highway G318 and turn south and drive along the National Highway G214.

The sun is setting  and we have to hurry up to catch the time lost on the speed limit road just passed.

Any questions on the drive from Batang to Mangkang, just drop a line.

Add-on:
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Mangkang to Deqin

Top 10 Attractions in Tibet

Sunday, July 13th, 2014
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Planning for Tibet Tour? Looking for top things to do in Tibet?  So here is our list of top 10 Attractions in Tibet.

1.   Namcha Barwa Mountain
Nyingchi, which literally means “throne of the sun” in Tibetan has a relatively lower altitude bestowed with the green mountain slopes, snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear rivers. Nyingchi is dubbed as “Switzerland of Tibet”. The county boasts  the Namjiagbarwa Peak, and the Yarlung Zangbo Great Canyon, and the abundant nature resources.

At the distance of 457km west of Lhasa, you reach the Serjila Pass (the Seche La Pass) at the elevation of 5020m where you will be lucky to see the golden summit of Namcha Barwa Mountain (or Namchabarwa and the Namjiagbarwa Peak).

Mt.Namcha Barwa is famed as “the father of icebergs”. The foot of the peak is teemed with a number of hot springs and rich vegetation, which is an ideal place for both leisure and exploration.Its colossal triangle body is capped with snow and mists all year around and people find it hard to see its true face. In 1992 that the Sino-Japan Mountain Climbing Team conquered Mt.Nanjiabawa. Today it has become a very popular and challenging destination for leisure travelers and professional mountain climbers from both home and abroad.

Namchabarwa (7787 m) is selected as the most beautiful mountain in China.

Check out 4 Wheel Drive to Namcha Barwa Mountain  for more information.

The golden summit of Namcha Barwa Mountain

The golden summit of Namcha Barwa Mountain

 

2.  Midui Glacier

About 30km to the west of Ranwu, you turn to the south driving along the mountain road, then change for a horse ride and get to the foot of the most beautiful glacier in China – Midui Glacier with various styles and beautiful conformation.It is a rare natural wonder. The most beautiful glacier in China – Midui Glacier, about 700 km southeast of Lhasa.
 Midui Glacier

Midui Glacier

3. Mt.Everest Base Camp
We left Baiba Township and drove along the National Highway 318 down to the south for about 10km, then we had to stop 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.

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 potholes!

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!

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.

Check out Mt.Everest Trip for more information.

People were crazy about Mt.Everest

People were crazy about Mt.Everest


4.  Mt.Kailash
Location: Mt.Kailash is located in the north of Pulan county in Tibet. It is the second highest peak (6721m) in the Gangdisê Mountains which runs parallel to the Himalayan mountains. Mt.Kailash is considered to be the “Holy Mountain”  for the four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and prayed by the pilgrims from the neighbouring countries like Tibet, Nepal, India.

Best Travel time; May – OctoberIn the hearts of the pilgrims, Mt.Kailash is a holy place or the Buddha or God itself. Each year thousands of pilgrims made visits to the holy mountain and keep the tradition of walking around the mountain. It is said that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune.The path around Mt.Kailash is about 52km. People in good shape take 15 hours to complete the 52 km trek.Mt.Kailash also attracts the International Mountaineering. A number of mountaineers have prospected the mountain with a view to climbing. But up to now Mt.Kailash has not been climbed for various reasons. The main reason is that nobody wants to offend the holy peak

 Mt.Kailash

Mt.Kailash

5. Namtso Lake
Lying between Baingoin County of Nagqu Prefecture and Damxung (Damshung) County of Lhasa Prefenture, Namtso Lake is located about 240km to the northwest of Lhasa city.

Namtso Lake literally means “the heavenly lake”, a mountain lake perched on the north of the Nyainqêntanglha range with a sea-level of 4,718m and a surface area of 1,920 square kilometres. It is often quoted as the second largest salt lake (after Qinghai Lake) in China and the highest salt lake of the size in the world. Accompanied by the massive Nyainqêntanglha range, Namtso Lake appears like a charming lady, the most stunning body of water in Tibet.

The best season to visit Namtso Lake is between June and September. Normally starting from October and November, Namtso Lake will be closed to tourists due to heavy snow. You may hire a SUV car with the help of the staffers from your hotel or inn.

The cheapest way is to join in a shared coach organized by the local travel agencies. You will find the coach tours of visiting Namatso Lake from most of the youth hostels or hotels in Lhasa. In addition, each morning, the seat-in coach will start from the area by the White Pagoda on the east gate of the Potala Palace around 7:00am.

Check out Lhasa Namtso Road Trip  for more information.

Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake


6.  Potala Palace
Many visitors would like to take some photos of Potala Palace bringing their memory back home. There are many places to view and photograph Potala Palace sitting on a hill in the heart of Lhasa city.

You may walk around Potala Palace in a clockwise direction, a religion kora and take some pictures of Potala Palace from diffent angles and spots. Wandering on the path circling Potala Palace takes you approxi. 40 minutes.

There two best places to have an overview of Potala Palace for pictures taking – the Medicine King Hill and Palubuk Rock Temple both to the southwest of the palace. It takes you 2 yuan to take photos on the viewing platform on the hill. The entrance to Palubuk Temple costs you 20 yuan.

Check out Best Places to Take Picture of Potala Palace Lhasa  for more information.

View of Potala Palace with its square to the south.

View of Potala Palace with its square to the south.

7. Jokhang Temple
Jokhang Temple, the fist Buddhist temple in Tibet, is located in the center of Lhasa city. Jokhang temple was built during the reign of King Songsten Gampo to celebrate his marriage with Princess Wencheng of Chinese Tang Dynasty. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet.

The Jokhang Temple, a massive building consisting of three floors and an open roof all filled with chapels and chambers, has undergone extensive reconstructions and additions since the 7th century. The architectural style is based on the Indian design, and was later extended resulting in a blend of Nepalese and Tang Dynasty styles.

The main hall of the temple houses the Shakyamuni Buddha Statue, besides there are also famous statues of Chenresig, Padmsambhava and King Songtsan Gambo and his two famous foreign brides, Princess Wencheng of China and Princess Brikuti of Nepal.

Now it has been the most popular attraction in Lhasa and part of the UNESCO World Hentage Site “Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace”  and a spiritual center of Lhasa.

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple

8. Tashilhunpo Monstery
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.

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.

Check out My Trip to Shigatse City for more information.

Tashilhunpo Monstery

Tashilhunpo Monstery

9. Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake ( or Yamdrok-Tso Lake and Yamdrok Yumtso Lake ) is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. Yamdrok-Tso Lake is 130km long from east to west and 70km wide from north to south with a total perimeter of 250km and the surface area of 638 square km, average depth of 20-40 meters. It is the largest lake at the north foot of the Himalayas.

Yamdrok Lake is situated within Langkazi County (Nangartse) of the Shannan Region of Tibet on the way between Lhasa and Gyantse – 110km southwest of Lhasa and 140 east of Gyantse.

Yamdrok Yumtso Lake is a kind of low salt lake formed by the snow melted water from the snow capped mountains nearby. The lake looks like a holy sapphire. Under the clear azure sky, the clean water of the lake is as smooth as the surface of fine blue jade.  Every year, many local Tibetans and visitors from Lhasa and from other places would come here for pilgrimage or sightseeing.

If you start from Lhasa to visit Yamdrok Lake, you have to climb over Kampala Pass (5000m) where you have a bird’s eye view of the amazing lake. The lake lies several hundred meters below the road or the pass. Under clear weather the lake is a fabulous shade of deep turquoise. Far in the distance is the huge snow mountain – Mt.Nojin Kangsang (7194).

If you set off from Gyantse to view Yamdrok Lake, you have to climb over Karola Pass (5042m). Karola Pass is the divided line between Gyantse County and Langkazi County.  (Nangartse).Check out the link Yamdrok Lake  for more information.

10. Samye Monastery
Sitting Pretty on the foot of Mt. Haibu Rishen, Samye Monastery is situated in the serene Shannan Region, to the north of Tsangpo river. It is located 270 km southeast of Lhasa.

This is the first monastery in entire Tibet built between 775 and 779. It comprises of the three Buddhist idols, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. This monastery is hugely popular with all Buddhist pilgrims from around the world. And the beauty of its construction beckons tourists who come to Tibet.

Any questions, just drop a line.

4-Wheel Drive Trip from Lhasa to Ranwu

Friday, March 8th, 2013
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Lhasa – Bayi – Lulang – Ranwu 4 Wheel Drive Trip
(Total 768km one way drive)

Are you in the process of arranging your Lhasa tour or Tibet tour? Tibet is difficult to explore on a short trip since it is quite huge in size, the second largest provincial-level region in China, just after Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Basically Tibet is officially classified into 6 tourism zones: 1) Lhasa Historical and Cultural Center Tourism Area; 2) Mt. Everest Eco Tourism Area;3) Linzhi (Nyingchi) Forest Eco Tourism; 4) Shannan Yalong River Cultural Scenic Area; 5) Ali Holy Mountains and Lakes Area; 6) Nanqu Grassland Eco Tourism Area.

Just a few words about these officially claimed six tourism zones;

Lhasa Historical and Cultural Center Tourism Area

This area is simply called Lhasa Area. Lhasa Area is the most visited place in Tibet. First time visitors coming to Tibet cannot afford to miss the capital city of Tibet. A general Lhasa tour normally takes you approx. 4-5 days, visiting a handful of impressive attractions such as Potala Palace, Bahkhor Street, Sea Temple…

Mt. Everest Eco Tourism Area

Called Mt.Everest Area for short. Glimpsing the EBC, the Mount Everest Base, is a dream of many tourists. Make an extended tour to Mounta Everest either from Shigatse or from Zhangmu fort bordering Nepal. 2 days are necessary to drive up to the base of Mr.Everest mountain area and back.

Linzhi (Nyingchi) Forest Eco Tourism
Dubbed as “Swiss Landscape”, Linzhi boasts the most beautiful mountain in China – Namcha Barwa or Namchabarwa and the most beautiful glacier – Midui Glacier and Lulang Forest.

Ali Holy Mountains and Lakes Area

Short for Ali Area, this region is a mecca for Tibetan Buddhists. Circling the holy mountain – Mount Kailash is the must-do buddhist event for many local Tibetans.

Nanqu Grassland Eco Tourism Area

Also known as North Tibet Area. This area is famous for its vast and wild area typified by grasslands, lakes and gobi. In this area, most people know more about Namtso Lake than Naqu itsself. You can have a 4-wheel drive day trip to Namtso Lake.

The Linzhi (Nyingchi) Forest Eco Tourism boasts the most scenic travel route of the all the tourism zones where you will see the most beautiful mountain in China – Namcha Barwa in Lulang and the most beautiful glacier in China – Midui Glacier in Ranwu.

We made a 4-wheel drive trip from Lhasa to Ranwu last October and the amazing driving experience still lingers in my mind. Well, follow me to drive cross the dreamland again!

We drive eastwards along the Chuanzang Highway (Sichuan Tibet Highway). Completed in 1958, the Chuanzang Highway is 2115km long starting from Chengdu, which is also part of the 5476km National Highway No.318 starting from Shanghai to Zhangmu Town.

Lhasa River, the mother river of Lhasa, accompanies us on our left side running down from the south side of Nyainqêntanglha range. Lhasa River is one of te five major tributaries of Yalong Tsangpo River with a total length of 551 km. Lhasa River passes the south area of Lhasa City from east to west, then runs south and meets Tsangpo River at Qushui.

The autumn view of the crystal waters of Lhasa River with the bald and dark mountains reflected on the river.

The autumn view of the crystal waters of Lhasa River

The autumn view of the crystal waters of Lhasa River

At the distance of 69km from Lhasa(within Maizhokunggar County), we get off at the site of the birth place of Songtsan Gampo (604 AD – 650 AD), the founder of the Tibetan Empire.
Birth place of Songtsan Gampo (604 AD - 650 AD)

Birth place of Songtsan Gampo (604 AD – 650 AD)

We continue to drive along the Chuanzang Highway (also called National Highway 318).
the Chuanzang Highway (also called National Highway 318)

the Chuanzang Highway (also called National Highway 318)

At the distance of 156km, we reach the Mila Pass (5013m), the highest point on the way from Lhasa to Ranwu.
the Mila Pass (5013m)

the Mila Pass (5013m)

All the passing by travelers stop for a break at the pass. Three statues of Yaks stand high on the platform by the Mila Pass to welcome visitors coming afar.
Three statues of Yaks stand high on the platform by the Mila Pass

Three statues of Yaks stand high on the platform by the Mila Pass

Driving down the pass, we are amazed to see the Tibetans prostrating all the way to Lhasa.
the Tibetans prostrating all the way

the Tibetans prostrating all the way

On the route, we meet quite a few travelers challenging themselves by cycling on the high elevation paved highway.
Cycling on the high elevation paved highway

Cycling on the high elevation paved highway

The Mila Pass is the division line between the Lhasa River and the Nyang River. The Nyang River is 307.5 km long and originates at 5,000 meters above the sea level from the Cuomuliangla, west of the Mila Mountain. The river meets the Yarlung Tsangpo in Cemeng, Nyingchi. So from Mila Pass, the river on our left side is not Lhasa River, instead, it is the beautiful Nyang River.
Escorted by Nyang River and colored by the autumn leaves, we continue to drive to our destination today – Lulang Town.
Escorted by Nyang River and colored by the autumn leaves

Escorted by Nyang River and colored by the autumn leaves

At the distance of 262km (within Gongbogyamda County), we get off at the sight of the massive Rock Pillar ( sea-level 3600m ) in the middle of the Nyang River. The Rock Pillar has a beautiful Chinese name – 中流砥柱 which implies a mainstay or a tower of strength.
At the distance of 410km, we pass by Bayi Town (Bayi or Bayizhen),  the capital of Nyingchi County. It lies on the Nyang River at an altitude of 2994 metres. It is a characterless new town built on the ancient village of Drakchi.

Nyingchi, which literally means “throne of the sun” in Tibetan has a relatively lower altitude bestowed with the green mountain slopes, snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear rivers. Nyingchi is dubbed as “Switzerland of Tibet”. The county boasts  the Namjiagbarwa Peak, and the Yarlung Zangbo Great Canyon, and the abundant nature resources.

At the distance of 457km in the late afternoon, we reach the Serjila Pass (the Seche La Pass) at the elevation of 5020m where we are lucky to see the golden summit of Namcha Barwa Mountain (or Namchabarwa and the Namjiagbarwa Peak). Namchabarwa (7787m) is selected as the most beautiful mountain in China.

The Serjila Pass, or the Seche La Pass (5020m)

The Serjila Pass (5020m)

The Serjila Pass (5020m)

The golden summit of Namcha Barwa Mountain
The golden summit of Namcha Barwa Mountain

The golden summit of Namcha Barwa Mountain

At the distance of 482km, we get to Lulang Town. Today we stay overnight at Lulang Town. Lulang is a two-horse town, nestled between the mountainous peaks with the vast expanse of trees (dubbed as Lulang Forest Sea). The so called town is a handful of basic houses and bungalows lined along the Chuanzang Highway.

Early next morning, we have a stroll around the two-horse town before continuing to drive to our destination of Ranwu today.

Lulang is a two-horse town

Lulang is a two-horse town

From Lulang Town to Ranwu Town, we have to pass through the most dangerous road on the way – Tongmaitianxian (Tongmai Dangerous Road), which is very dangerous with the average width ranging from 6m to 7m, difficult for two vehicles to pass in opposite directions. We successfully drive along the death road – Tongmaitianxian.
We successfully drive along the death road - Tongmaitianxian.

We successfully drive along the death road – Tongmaitianxian.

We choose the Tongmai Town for lunch. Tongmai is a booming town teeming with inns and restaurants.
Tongmai is a booming town teeming with inns and restaurants.

Tongmai is a booming town teeming with inns and restaurants.

After lunch, we continue to along the National Highway 318 from Tongmai to Bomi, and further to Ranwu Town – our final destination. This is a scenic and sightseeing driving road.

The landscape along the roadside is particularly beautiful. The scenic highway boasts the far snow mountains, glaciers, primitive forest, pristine villages and crystal rivers.
The landscape along the roadside is particularly beautiful

The landscape along the roadside is particularly beautiful

About 30km to the west of our final destination of Ranwu, we turn to the south driving along the mountain road, then change for a horse ride and get to the foot of the most beautiful glacier in China – Midui Glacier with various styles and beautiful conformation. It is a rare natural wonder.

The most beautiful glacier in China – Midui Glacier

the most beautiful glacier in China - Midui Glacier

the most beautiful glacier in China – Midui Glacier

Midui Glacier is a rare natural wonder
Midui Glacier is a rare natural wonder

Midui Glacier is a rare natural wonder

Before we reach our final destination of Ranwu Town at the distance of 768km from Lhasa, we visit the Ranwu Lake which has the reputation of “Swiss Landscape”,  It is wonderful combination of the Swiss Alps snow peaks and glaciers. The melted snow and ice is the water source for the lake.
Ranwu Lake

Ranwu Lake

Stay overnight in Ranwu Town at the distance of 768 from Lhasa.
Any questions, just drop a line.