6 days of Secret Tibet, China
Lhasa, Shigatse, Namtso Lake
|(L-R) Chew Siang Peng and Ching Neng Bin at Potala Square, Lhasa|
Tashi Delek! Greetings from Tibet. Travel agency picked us up at 5am from our Inn and drove us to the Airport for our 8.10 am (1350km) domestic flight to Lhasa. It was a 2 hours flight to Lhasa Gongga Airport. Our tour guide, Mr. Tenzin Phuntsok, welcomed us by putting the traditional Tibetan scarves over our neck. From the airport, the new 70km road passed through the Brahmaputra River and a tunnel before reaching Lhasa in an hour.
After checking in our hotel, we went straight to the old town of Lhasa, i.e. the Barkhor Street near Jokhang Temple. No activity on this first day as we have to acclimatise ourselves to the thinner air at this high elevation of 3,650m or 12,000 feet. Both of us did not experience altitude sickness, so we did not have to take Diamox. Had lunch at New Mandala Restaurant in front of Jokhang Temple.
After a few telephone calls we managed to meet up with Mr. Cheah, a classmate of Mr. Chew, who migrated to Australia about 40 years ago. Mr. Cheah came in four days earlier and be flying back the next day. Mr. Cheah gave us a sumptuous dinner treat at Lhasa Kitchen which served superb Tibetan food. Thank you very much Mr. Cheah.
Sichuan Airlines return tickets is 2,500Y per person
Sleeping: Yuan Feng Hotel at 180Y a room for 2
|Snow covered Tibetan mountain plateau. It occupies an area of around 1,000 by 2,500 kilometers, and has an average elevation of over 4,500 meters. Sometimes called "the roof of the world," it is the highest and biggest plateau in the world.|
|See just why Tibet is called 'the land of snows' and the 'rooftop of the world' as you fly over the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.|
|The Brahmaputra River runs to India|
|The new 70km road to Lhasa|
|The Brahmaputra River runs to India and join the Ganges.|
|Lhasa new town - very Chinese. By road from Chengdu is 3,360km.|
|Barkhor Street area. Lhasa has a population of 400 thousand.|
|(L-R) Mr Cheah from Australia and Mr Chew|
|Elderly man walking round the Jokhang Temple|
|Pilgrim holds the prayer wheel to walk clockwise there from dawn to dark.|
|Old town - along Barkhor Street Bazzar|
|Yak meat for sale on the street|
|Mr. Cheah gave us a sumptuous dinner treat at Lhasa Kitchen which served superb Tibetan food. Thank you Mr. Cheah. With us the driver and guide.|
This morning, we visited the Potala Palace which is the landmark of Lhasa and Lama Buddhism. It is a 13 storey and 1,000 rooms' palace and once winter residence of the Dalai Lama. The construction of the present structure began during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1645 and took more than 50 years to complete.
Had lunch at a typical local cafe for the tasty yak stew and yak milk tea. For the first time in my life, I had my head shaved bald for 8Y, just to be different, but same same as Dalai Lama. Afternoon was visiting the Muru Monastery for the aged Tibetan. This elderly Tibetan would stay here for two years and they normally do this before they die.
We walked round and round the Jokhang Temple.
Potala Palace entrance fee is 100Y pp
Sleeping: Mandala Hotel, No.31 South Barkhor St. -180Y a room for 2
|Entrance to Potala Palace for foreign tourist - notice the long line of tourist.|
|A Tibetan prostrating at Potala Palace for hours.|
|Prostration is the placement of the body in a submissively prone position.|
|Door to the Dalai Lama prayer and sleeping room. Camera is prohibited.|
|Tibetan mural on the palace wall evolved from early rock paintings, and are influenced by Tibet's indigenous religion.|
|The Palace Square|
|View of Lhasa City from Potala Palace|
|Tenzin Phuntsok my guide. Very tasty yak stew rice and yak milk tea for lunch|
|Muru Monastery (Muru Ningba) for the aged Tibetan. It is located immediately behind and east of the Jokhang and may be accessed from the north side of the Barkhor.|
|It contains a number of fine murals — the central image being that of
Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), with images of the five Nyingma
Yidam-Protectors and Tseumar and Tamdrin in glass cases around the
After 9am breakfast at hotel, we proceed 350km to Shigatse by way of the old mountain road. We first stopped at Kambala Pass (4,700m, 15,420ft) to take picture of the Yomdrok Lake (The Blue Lake) at 4488m, one of the three largest lakes in Tibet, is also known as 'Scorpion Lake' because of its shape, is one of the three sacred Tibetan Lakes. It has fabulous shade of deep turquoise water colour and the snow peaks of Mt.Nojin Kangtsang (7,191m) in the distance. The coast of the lake is an ideal pasture.
Had lunch in Nangartse, a small town along the way.
We then continued the road all the way to The Pelkor Chode Monastery to see the Karola Glacier Pass (5,000m, 16,400ft), a breathtaking view of the Karola Glacier in an unforgettable experience.
The last pass was the Semela Pass (4,800m) with a fantastic view of the Yarlong Lake or The Green Lake.
We finally arrived at Shigatse at 4pm and visited Tashilhunpo Monastery. It is one of the Six Big Monasteries of Gelugpa in Tibet, also called the Heap of Glory. Founded by the First Dalai Lama in 1447, the monastery's structure was expanded by the Fourth and successive Panchen Lamas. Tashilhunpo is the seat of the Panchen Lama since the Fourth Panchen Lama took charge in the monastery, and there are now nearly 800 lamas. Standing on the entrance of Tashilunpo, visitors can see the grand buildings with golden roofs and white walls.
Had dinner at Songtsen Tibetan Restaurant. It has good Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan or Western fare.
Tashilhunpo Monastery entrance fee is 55Y
Sleeping: Tai Xing Hotel at 280Y a room for 2
|The Brahmaputra River runs to India|
|The winding 350km mountain road|
|First stopped at Kambala Pass (4700m) to take picture of the Yomdrok Lake (The Blue Lake) at 4488m|
|A black yak|
|Had lunch in Nangartse, a small town along the way.|
|Our second stopped was to see the Karola Glacier Pass (5,000m), a breathtaking view of the Karola Glacier in an unforgettable experience.|
|The last pass was the Semela Pass (4,800m) with a fantastic view of the Yarlong Lake or The Green Lake.|
|Entrance to Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse|
|The novice monks laughed at my bald head|
|Tashilhunpo Monastery. The two tiered gilded bronze structure of the roof chapels can be seen at the top of the picture|
|It is one of the four "Yellow-Hat Sect" monasteries of Tibetan Buddhist, was founded by Gedun Drupa (the first Dalia-Lama) in 1447. It has the highest sitting, Maitreya Buddha Statue in the world and was made of gold and copper alloy.|
|A perfect place for a Tibetan meal.|
The return journey to Lhasa was by way of the Friendship Highway arriving at 3pm. At 4.20pm we met up with Chew's friend who is the number 2 man in the military. He gave us a very special dinner together with his military officers in the most famous Chinese restaurants in Lhasa - we talk on everything except politics.
Sleeping: Mandala Hotel, No.31 South Barkhor St. -180Y a room for 2
|Our guide Mr. Tenzin Phuntsok stopped for lunch|
|A look at a typical farm house along the way back to Lhasa|
|Back at Barkhor circuit|
|Very old tree at Potala Square|
|Potala Palace at night|
|A very special dinner given by Chew's military friend|
After breakfast at 8am, it was a four hours journey - 195km north of Lhasa. The scenery was breathtaking but so is the altitude: 4,718m (110m higher than Lhasa). Had very good view of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway which was officially started operations on 1st July 2006.
|The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world's highest railway.|
|We visited a Tibetan house|
|The railway has 160km of bridges and elevated track were built over permafrost.|
|Yes, the highest lake in the world|
|Some of the pastoral nomads camping near Namtso Lake behind.|
|At the southeastern corner of the lake near Tashi Dor Monastery. It offers food and accommodation around the monastery.|
|Puppy for sale and our guide bought one for 10Y.|
|Do not eat here, very expensive though the food is good.|
|Behind me is Namtso Lake|
|The lake is partly frozen at this time of year.|
|The color of the water are almost transcendent turquoise blue.|
This was our last day in Tibet. In the morning we visited the Jokhang Temple and after that I did what a Tibetan would do and that is to prostrate in front of the 1,400 old Jokhang temple. After lunch I packed my clothing that I do not want to take back and some food for the elderly people at Muru Monastery. I have therefore duly completed my holy pilgrimage to the roof of the world, "The Secret Tibet". Our guide picked us up at 2pm for the airport and our flight back to Chengdu at 4.30 pm.
We got back to the Traffic Inn at about 7.30 pm. It was a big surprised to me at the Inn when Sharon and Chan who had also just came back from Xian came to wish me 'Happy Birthday' when I myself had totally forgotten. Yes, it was my birthday alright!
|The Jokhang Temple is a four-storey timber complex with a golden top. It
adopted the architectural styles of the Tang Dynasty, as well as those
of Tibet and Nepal.|
|In the eastern section of the yard there are rows of lights. These lights provide a path leading all the way to the main hall. The main hall, over 1,300 years old, is the oldest shrine of the complex.|
|Dharma Wheel (chakra) flanked by two deer. This represents the unity of all things and symbolizes Sakyamuni himself.|
|Varied shops stand on both sides of the street and thousands of floating stands are on every corner. Most of them offer the prayer wheels, long-sleeve 'chuba' (the Tibetan people's traditional clothes), and religious articles for sale.|
|To sum up, Barkhor Street is a place full of religious atmosphere and a world of exotic articles. If you have been attracted by it, you should go there. Believe your eyes, and you will get a lot of surprise there.|
|This lady prostrating around the Temple|
|The continuous waves of pilgrims prostrating themselves outside the temple.|
|Finally, my time has come to prostrate and pray for world peace.|
|I did this 100 times in almost 30 minutes|
Day 30 (18.04.10) Chengdu >Kuala Lumpur
It was flight AirAsia touched down at LCCT at 4.30 am and I slept at the bus-stand until 6.45 am before taking my breakfast at the canteen. Took the 8 am Star Shuttle bus (RM43) back to Ipoh.
Total expenses for 24 days adventure inclusive of air tickets
to Sichuan and Yunnan was RM2,750-00 per person.
Total expenses for 6 days adventure inclusive of air tickets
to Tibet was RM2,600-00 per person.