Monday, 31 August 2009

Lunch and Karola Pass

We have now arrived at the town area where the shops and restaurants are. And, wherever we go, we would see several tourist coaches who are typically following the touristy routes like ourselves. The restaurant we dined is is a Chinese one. Most of the nicer-looking restaurants outside Lhasa are Chinese. Since I finished lunch earlier than the others, I decided to have a stroll. Children were playing in the fields. There was a man playing a traditional-looking guitar on the floor, in front of the restaurant.


This was the restaurant we had lunch in.


In the distance, there is snow-covered Karola Pass


Tiny blue flowers


A man playing a traditional banjo or guitar.


A little girl picking flowers


Tibetans having lunch outside their tents


River and mountains


Lots of glaciers on the mountains


Yaks looking like black specks by the river



A pond with beautiful turquoise water


A herder and his yaks in the mountains


Karola Pass (5080m) with lots of tourists


The glaciers look so near as though it's going to come down on us


Tourists standing on higher ground to get better pictures


Yayy, we're out of the coach again! Liberation!


Sunday, 30 August 2009

Tibet Has Beautiful Lake Mirrors

I found this web entry by G√ľnther Eichhorn on Tibet rather nice and brief. Our next stop was to have lunch. All the while as we are passing more Tibetan countryside, the thoughts of Yamdrok Tso didn't leave me until I saw the mountains and clouds being mirrored on the water. It was a pretty amazing view because at a certain angle or distance, the water appeared to be blue. Yet at another, you see the mirror image of what's around being reflected. And, sometimes, all you see is the glare of the sun's rays on the water.

Along these windy and rocky roads, I saw the perfect meadow. The grass was of lush green which became favourite grazing grounds for the farm animals. The calm river was of Maya blue. At a certain stretch, it cast a beautiful reflection of the mountains. The mountains were in shades of brown, green or red and the blue sky had the cotton-white clouds to keep it company. It was absolutely stunning to watch. As I watched, I was completely blown away by the beauty of the place. In fact, it was unbelievable that my eyes were becoming watery at the sight of its beauty and serenity. This place felt so beyond everything, like a paradise. As I engaged myself with the scenes before me, I forgot all else. I don't know what is it about Tibet, but this place is truly magical and profound. Everything around has a soul and they speak. They touch mine and with the beautiful scenery passing, tears rolled down my cheeks.

Remember the song, The Circle of Life by Elton John in The Lion King, I see it in Tibet, this circle of life.


A typical Tibetan village


Every year, thousands of Tibetans would go to the river or lake to have their baths during the Bathing Festival. This usually falls on the first 15 days of October when the brightest star of Venus (Qishan star or "Gamanji") appears. According to Tibetan Buddhism belief, the water at this time is sweet, cool, soft, light, clear, clean and unharmful to the throat or belly.

"Peace is flowing like a river, flowing out of you and me .." - Children's Christian song


Reflection of the clouds and the sky


Some sort of rodents live in these holes in the ground


The perfect meadow scene


What would you be thinking if you're standing right here?


The reflection looking like a painting as the ripples resemble brush strokes


A Tibetan couple walking in the farm


A pond in a field of yellow and green


Tibetan farmers walking along a path in the fields


Farmer with a shovel


Materials for building piled up in pyramids


Big sanskrit writings at the mountain slope


Another mirror on the water. Gah, the reflection of window curtains is caught on camera!


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Some alone time at Gamta Pass & Yamdroktso

The Yamdrok Lake or Yamdrok Tso (Yamzhog Yumcog in Chinese) is famous because of its size and religious significance to the people of Tibet. Yamdrok Tso is located in the town of Nakartse. Also, it looks absolutely stunning! So, it's a definite stop for any tourist heading to Shigatse from Lhasa or vice versa. The water has shades of cyan along the shore which transforms into a deep turquoise as the river bed deepens. It looked as though someone spilled water colours of cyan where the water touches land. I found an interesting article on the ecological impact that has resulted from the building of a hydro power plant.
"Kamba-la (a high pass nearby) has a stupendous view of Yamdrok-tso, one of the most sacred lakes in Tibet (and also the most unusually shaped body of water I've seen. Arms of water (covering nearly 250 square miles) curl back around the central portion, creating a huge peninsula surrounded almost entirely by the lake. It calls to mind an amoeba. Or a Rorschach inkblot. The water is said to be a startling shade of turquoise but the day we were there it was heavily overcast and turquoise shades were nowhere to be found. Instead, the water was a dark, glassy, green--a color almost viscerally foreboding in intensity. No waves, no ripples. Almost mirror-like.

Geologists consider Yamdrok-tso a "dead" lake because no outside source feeds it and it has no natural outlet. The surrounding land is a fascinating mix of vivid green pasture and stark brown cliffs." - by tiganeasca, virtualtourist.com

My legs were feeling sore from the long coach ride. I lunged at liberation as the coach came to a standstill. It felt great being here. It was a little chilly but pleasant nonetheless. For some reason, I wanted time out to feel the whole place, to stroll on my own and notice all the little things around.

The whole place was swarmed with tourists. The place quietened when we were just about to leave. It seemed we have all arrived and left at the same time, which is a pity. Everyone was trying to take a picture with the stone pillar with red writings on it. No one really wanted to wait so they took different sides to stand in front of the pillar so that the other tourists will not in their photos. The Tibetans were charging everyone a fee for taking pictures with the pillar or for using the toilet. There were others with their mounts or pets all decorated in red puffy stuff to entice the tourists to take photos with them for a fee. Where the tourists crowded, the atmosphere became hectic. They drew the Tibetan vendors towards them and there were bargains or disagreements in the air.

I walked on my own, choosing to walk on a lone path along the slope instead of the mountain top which was common path for the other tourists. I found myself panting heavily after walking for a short distance. The view was gorgeous and there were pretty little plants by the slope. The slope was steep and one wrong move could have sent me tumbling down into the lake.

I rejoined my mum and sister at the top of the mountain before we were pressured for time by our tour guide. I didn't realise how much time had passed. It was nice there. Yaks and sheeps were grazing on slopes that were impossible to get to. Yaks aren't exactly small and how they got themselves at those grazing spots is a real wonder.

At the front of the parking lot, standing stones lined the edge of the cliff. Someone's prayers were once offered to the great celestial powers from these altar-like structures. That just reminded me of this soapy Korean drama I watched. It was of a girl who piled stones up to offer her prayers with. While we may not easily fathom these rituals because of their hidden symbolic meaning, it is something which I think advertisers are good in utilising to get a subconscious effect on the "preys".


The building on the slope didn't look to be perfectly flat. I can't quite imagine living in a house that has slanting floors.


Rented 4WD and coaches filled up the parking lot


The green farms look so tiny from up here. It looked like a water colour painting.


Many tourists lining up to take pictures with the standing stone


Stones piled up for saying prayers


Tourists heading towards the path at the top


A beautiful black doggie with a red wreath around his neck


Tibetan vendors with their decorated mounts


A very colourful yak with Yamdroktso


A Tibetan vendor hanging on to the leash of his pet in one hand and souveniers for sale in the other.


Lady vendor with a really adorable, white goat


View of Kamba-la Pass with many tourists


When I saw this, the first thing that came in my mind was, "QUARTZ"! I didn't know it is a common mineral. I thought it's nice to see a nice white stone amongst all the brown and green. They sell this for money!


Tiny little pink flowers growing out of these cabbage-looking buds


My instinct is telling me that this plant is medicinal. Maybe it's because of the big leaves and tiny flowers. Maybe it's the only one or two I saw when I walked a whole area of the slope.


Fungus?


The pink flowers, white flowers and yellow flower grew together


Man performing Tai Chi. This is what I mean! This place resonates peace. You just want to be out on your own to find yourself, to be with nature, to detach from the world, be one with your mind and the spirit of the Earth.


Doing my sis' hop shot from Kamba-la


She did it so much nicer than I did. It must be the extra flesh she's showing! :p


As the tourists have left, the vendors rested and chit chatted with each other. At this point, I got caught for taking picture of the stone pillar and was asked for money. I blurted something I didn't understand and walked away. It was after the trip that I regretted not giving a little something.


Once again, were back in the coach for another lengthy stretch before we reach Karola Pass. So, there is a lot more countryside to see.


The water looked so tempting!


A village beside Yamdroktso


Vehicles have drawn contour lines on the shore as the paths were constantly used


Many piled up stones by this part of the shore and a scarecrow-type thingie


The colours of nature: white, blue, green, brown


I can't help feeling that I need better lenses.


Don't mind the many valley-village pictures I've put up. I just love watching them again and again. They seemed to be hidden away from the world by two gentle giants on each of their side. And, having a beautiful lake right in front. I wondered if living as a traditional Tibetan would be anywhere close to living in Jean Auel's books.