Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tibet. Lhasa to Gyantse.


Me and the accidental yak :-)

It's October 11th. Today we finally left on our road trip through Tibet. It would take two drivers and two Toyota LandCruisers to carry us on our road trip.

The first part of our drive would take us along the Southern Friendship Highway from Lhass to Gyantse.
The ride to Gyantse would take us 10 hours and would be mostly on good roads. The day would all be about the spectacular Tibetan scenery. We started our drive along the valley. By now, we had gotten accustom to the view of fluffly, white clouds dangling in a clear blue sky and pristine lakes surrounded by treeless mountains.

Every now and again, we would pass fields of green - barley.


Then, our driver pulled over by the roadside and we all got out. We stood to admire the view of the river. That's when Baikuntha told us we were looking at the source of the great Brahmaputra River which flows south and eventually winds up in India.
Margaret and Claire standing in front of the Brahmaputra River.

Somewhere along the way, we veered off the main road and started to ascend in elevation -we were headed for Kamba-la pass which is at an elevation of 4794m. Soon, mountain passes came into view and quiet waters turned into raging rivers.

....and then, we arrived at our second vista point. Standing the summit of Kamba la and looking down, I saw the beautiful turquoise water of Yamdrok Tso. 'Yamdrok' in Tibetan means 'upper pasture' and 'Tso' refers to lake, thus Yamdrok Tso means Upper Pasture Lake. It is third largest lake on the Tibetan plateau, occupying an area of 678 sq. km. It is a 'dead' lake - with neither a perennial source of water (other than melting snow from the surrounding mountains) nor an outlet. Setting aside the facts, the color of the lake is absolutely stunning.


After spending a few minutes for photo ops, we piled back into the LandCruisers and headed back down the mountain passes to the valley.



Oddly enough, we passed a few sand dunes along the way - perhaps remnants of the shift in tectonic places that resulted in the formation of the Himalaya region millions of years ago.



Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. We stopped at a roadside restaurant.
Claire, Margaret, Jo, Bec, and Barry - ready for lunch!

It was our first "basic" Tibetan meal. It wouldn't be long before "egg fried rice" would become a staple of my dining experience!

After lunch, it was back on the road. It would be another 3 hours or so before we would arrive into Gyantse but with scenery like this ....
....none of us minded the drive!