Taking a private car to the city of Jiacha, we had one of our few bad experiences with Tibetan drivers. This guy had a 7-seat SUV (so there was no trunk space), but removed one seat for luggage. Problem was, we had 6 people (incl driver) already but he wouldn’t leave until we got a 7th. In the end, we had only one person sitting comfortably, while four would sit in the back with one last guy sitting in the ‘trunk’. The roads were pretty bad, and add to all the bumpity-bump in a cramped space, it wasn’t too pleasant.
We struck a conversation with our ‘close’ friends in the back seat, apparently two of them were going to work at a hydroelectric power plant construction site, while the third girl said she’s going to ‘get used to the area’ before traveling. After a sketchy drive across the mountain we were sorta nervous about the road condition even though it hasn’t rained for a bit, but our fears were confirmed as we drove pass by a wrecked SUV laying nose-first into the ground…. Not cool.
Anyways, after a bumpy 4hrs and dropping off the two construction workers, we finally get to the city of Jiacha. The strange thing about that third girl was that, she’s already been here back in 2008 (Strike 1). She then proceeded to say she has her own apartment, and will ‘stay here for a bit before traveling’ (Strike 2, why would anyone have their own apartment in a rural town?). Lastly, she said her friend was waiting for her at 金龙, and we thought it was a hotel name, but instead it was a “night club” (Strike 3, that nightclub looks shady). Conclusion: She may be ‘working’ to pay off her ‘tuition’? Ahhh well. She wasn’t your stereotypical skinny+high heels kind of look though, she looked like a student in a colourful hoody and carrying a bit of baby fat… Not sure how her business is, but maybe she was really telling the truth =P
Trying to find tourists to head up to Namulacuo with us, we walked around the whole town and found NOTHING. The town itself was rather amazing, as it is serviced by nothing but a poor mountain road that takes at least 4hrs to the next town, it still had a steady supply of fresh produce and locals. The town is supported mainly by the hydroelectric plant nearby, and also by the cordyceps foraging by Tibetans which make this town rather rich. Tourists stop coming by early September, and we totally missed anybody and in the end had to pay full fare for the trip into the sacred lake…. not cool.
There was still a 70km drive to get to the lake, and we headed up there today to get to the base where another, you guessed it, monastery was located. This would save us a long ride early in the morning, and we agreed as we wanted to head back to Zedang sooner. After another bumpy 2.5hr drive getting only 50km far, we stayed at the remote town in what can be best described as a concrete shack, we slept early to prepare us for a 630am morning call…. ahhhh, the lengths we go to!