This morning, we were up very early for our long drive to Nangartse, where we will stay for the night as a stopping point on the way to Gyantse. We all grabbed a quick breakfast and climbed onto the back of the truck to ride the 9km to the river, where will will catch the ferry. It rained all night last night so many roads are flooded and the river has clearly over-run its banks. This morning was very overcast and cold, and our hands froze as we held onto the bars of the truck. And we had to hang on tight because it was a bumpy, muddy ride.
There were a number of monks and nuns on the truck with us. I was standing between two of them, one of whom was very interested in my watch. The other kept spitting out the side of the truck and Aussie-John (the Doctor) commented that he’s never had anyone spit underneath his arm quite so much.
We all boarded the ferry/wooden boat for the cold and windy ride upriver. The scenery was just as stunning as it was two days earlier, albeit a bit mistier and wetter.
We were happy to see our bus again, and to find all our backpacks intact (we had brought only day-packs and sleeping bags to Samye). So we climbed on and settled in for the long drive to Nangartse.
I had just started to doze off when we pulled up to Yumbu Lhakang, said to be the oldest building in Tibet. Some say that the structure is 2000 years old, but it’s more likely that it was built in the 7th century. At any rate, the area of Yarlung Valley where the building is located is viewed as the beginning place of the Tibetan people. Legend has it that is was built for King Nyetri Tsenpo who descended from the heavens to be received by the Tibetan people.
But all we thought when we saw the building/fortress was, “Oh No! Another hill!”. Our thighs are feeling the effects of yesterday’s Himalayan Trek. But we climbed it the hill and walked through the different shrines (getting really sick of Yak butter smells!)
There was a small group of people from Holland who caught the truck and ferry from Samye with us this morning. It looks like we’re on a bit of the same tour schedule as they are because they drove up as we were getting out of the bus. We have decided to call them the “Flying Dutchmen”, although they probably deserve a bit more respect: they hiked over the Himalayas for 4 days to get to Samye Monastery. Not an easy thing to do!
After a few hours of driving, we drove up to Kamba-la Pass which is at 4794 meters. The view is incredible! It looks over Yamdrok-Tso, which is a fabulous deep turquoise color. For Tibetans, this is one of the four holy lakes of Tibet and the home of wrathful deities. For us, it was a wonderful picture moment surrounded by begging children and touts selling “Yak Pictures” for 5 Yuan. The yaks were big and smelly and left Yak dung all over the place. As we got ready to leave, it began to hail like crazy! If I were a Buddhist, I would probably think this was a sign from one of the deities.
Jon and Me at Kamba-la Pass
The drive down from the pass was just as incredible as the drive up it. Stunning views and very deep drops to the bottom of the valley. By the time we got to the bottom next to the lake, it was sunny again! But we could look up at the mountains and see where fresh snow had fallen.
Change In Plans
Our driver has found out that the roads to Gyantse (where we will drive to tomorrow, and the entire reason for our trip today) are washed out and un-passable. So it looks like we’ll stay in Nangartse as planned, but we’ll have to turn around and go back the way we came tomorrow. Instead of one night in Gyantse and one night in Shigatse, we’ll spend two nights in Shigatse. No big deal, but it’s a bummer because there is NOTHING to see or do in Nangartse. The only reason the town exists is as a stopping point on the way to Gyantse. Which, of course, we can’t get to. But we did see some beautiful scenery!
Nangartse Guest House
Nangartse is a very small town just off the lake. There are only a few places to stay and only a few places to eat. The hotel/guest house has – what Kath calls – “The Grossest Toilets EVER!”, and I’m not likely to disagree with her anytime soon. But the good news is that she has a contact here in the town who put a bit of pressure on the guest house to wash out the toilets. So, while they are The Grossest Toilets Ever, I can see that they would be absolutely unbearable if they hadn’t been cleaned. It’s a nice treat, though, because we thought we’d be staying in dormitories but Jon and I have our own room. There are no showers here but we weren’t expecting any. They do have large thermoses of hot water, so we cleaned ourselves in the basins in the room and dumped the used water into The Grossest Toilets Ever.