Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Arriving in Shigatse

Shigatse (Xigaze), meaning fertile land, is an ancient city and is the second largest one in Tibet. It has a height of 3836m above sea level. It is 273km away from Lhasa, which is the approximate distance we have travelled since morning as we passed Kambala Pass and Karola Pass. It used to be the center of political administration and cultural influence with a history of 600 years. It is in Shigatse that the first Dalai Lama built the famous Tashilhunpo Monastery.

I was asking my guide the possibility of being able to see the Himalayas Range from around here since we are rather close (about 300km away) to the Rongbo Monastery (Rongbuk or Rongphu), a guesthouse and base camp to Mount Everest (Mount Qomolangma in Tibetan). Apparently, we can! Unfortunately, most people including the guide were asleep after we last stopped at Karo-la Pass and we may have missed it! I was surfing on monasteries and I found this! I want to go!

I have been randomly reading pages from a book on Tibetan tourism, which I have purchased from the souvenier store in Lhasa a few days ago. I had come across a page on the Rongbo Monastery. It is the highest religious building in the world. Also, the highest monastery and hotel in the world. It is said to be the best place to admire Mount Everest and houses many tourists, explorers and climbers with its many rooms. I want to go! The book was great to have as there are many more places I want to go that are not covered in the tour, of course. There are so many ancient ruins in Tibet and I love ruins! There's the tombs of the Tibetan Kings such as the stone coffin tombs Gonjog County or the Tubo tombs in the Nang County, ruins of ancient kingdoms such as those of Guge, more monasteries (I haven't had enough yet!) and scenic places.

Once again, we are passing by fields, houses and shops similar to those in and around Lhasa. Barley is widely grown in Tibet. They turn yellow when they are ripe and they are good for health. Barley is also used to make decorating offerings to the deities in the temple. In Tibet, barley flour (tsampa, zanba) is the main staple food. Other crops include beans, peas, potatoes and beet.

A horse pulling a cart

Wouldn't it be nice to have a house here?

Fields of barley, rape and other crops. I don't know what the green ones are.

People in the fields. I love seeing people in the fields! It's like a scene from the Sound of Music or a Bollywood film.

This looks like an old school romance story

A tractor pulling a cart full of stuff

Clothes shop

Buildings in town

An alley

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