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,

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.


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.

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