Posts Tagged With: 阿里

Day 95: Back to Lhasa (拉萨) – September 20th

Waking up to see the sunrise, we were on our way by 6am. The crazy thing was, our neighbours were up as well! We’re not quite sure what time they stopped singing, but it was not earlier than 1am, they got some crazy energy.

By the time we reached the mountain top, a swarm of tourists were already there with their tripods lined up one by one. Our luck with the weather didn’t end, as the clouds were thick and covered most of the light, so we didn’t get any spectacular views before leaving the lake for good and back on our way to Lhasa. Flipping back through the pictures though, it was still a very nice view, but we’ve probably seen too much through those 15 days, and it ended on a bit of a soft note.

The road back to Lhasa was quick and smooth, and the first thing we did was to buy a cell phone! At first we asked for the cheapest cell phone available, which was $199RMB (or ~$30CAD), but we slowly moved up the price range and ended up with a KingK phone worth $250RMB! Score.

We had a really great trip, and one of the best parts was being able to travel with our tour-mates and having such an awesome driver! Throughout the trip, our driver shared with us many laughs, wonderful stories of his eventful past, and even more stories of how he likes to trick his passengers if they weren’t nice, and we all had a great time! He’s earned his nickname of being the King of Ali with his crazy directions and know-how (seriously, trying to properly navigate dirt roads in grassland is not as easy as it sounds), we salute you! So for dinner, we treated our driver and his family to dinner! It was great fun and all, and we all got pretty drunk off Lhasa beer (which is possibly the best beer we’ve tasted in China so far!). And as a parting gift, the driver’s son gave us a rock he picked up at the Everest Base Camp….which has a fossilized sea conch inside!! Cool!

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Day 94: Namucuo (纳木措) – September 19th

On the last leg of the trip, we were out of the backcountry and back into the modern world with PAVED ROADS! We had a relaxing milk tea lunch in the middle of a courtyard before heading back to the road to the last sacred lake of the trip, 纳木措.

The lake itself is a rather popular day-trip spot for tourists visiting Lhasa, but we have to say after seeing all the beautiful lakes of the Ali region, we were a bit underwhelmed. It’s also been a while since we’ve seen so many tourists (not necessarily a good thing)!! So despite being in the middle of nowhere, phone reception was ridiculously good, but prices of everything was very high… and it’ll probably get higher as they continue to ‘improve’ the area. Sometimes though, things are better left simple.

Being a sacred lake, you can already guess what we’re about too do…we’ll walk around the mountain that overlooks the lake! This time, our Tibetan drivers joined us for the trip around. It was a rowdy good time filled with yaks, harnessing wild horses, climbing through rock crevasses and exploring old caves.

We tried to catch a quick meal before climbing to the top of the mountain to see the sunset. Problem is, while we walked up it started hailing sideways, and there wasn’t much left to see so we returned back to town…. until we realized our phone was missing!!! After a furious search, and the restaurant owners help, we concluded that it was definitely stolen and gave up hope…. so now we’ve both lost our phones! Oh well…won’t let it ruin our mood!

Being a lakeside “resort”, there weren’t much in terms of night time activities and we were in our beds by 10:30pm. The problem is though, the overpriced room we stayed in was actually a room within a portable, and we could hear EVERYTHING that happened next door. To our left, was a bunch of snoring uncles, and to our right was a group of over-aged ladies acting like it was a teenagers slumber partying…. giggling, gossiping and SINGING OLDIES SONGS. Ear plugs are a travelers best friend….. (the next morning, I had the privilege of bumping into them and they looked exactly as they sounded…annoying).

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Day 93: Bange (班戈县) – September 18th

Without knowing it, we were already on the last leg of our Ali trip and it definitely is a bittersweet kind of feeling. You’re sort of glad going back into the city but missing out on the scenery and camaraderie with our tour-mates.

Leaving the town early, we were on the road in one of the few places where Tibetan Antelopes were known to wander around. Along with us, there were three other SUVs that were on the road with us. Have to say, having good tour-mates is really important, as you’re sort of stuck with them for an extended period of time, having to eat, talk and sleep in the same room with them everyday! We’re really glad we met up with the outgoing couple from Shenzhen and not some annoying sob who can’t stop taking pictures of himself/herself and being the first person to express their opinion (which is the only one that matters) on everything and anything. Yay!

And what’s also important when traveling in Tibet?? A good driver, and we lucked out with a REALLY good driver? This guy does it all, he’s got mad skills when it comes to off-road driving, knows where the non-existent roads are in a maze of mountains, AND he’s got an awesome sense of humour. The most important trait though was in full force today, as his eagle-eye vision spotted us a few Tibetan Antelopes far away in the horizon! He quickly stopped for us to take a peak through his binoculars, and while we were still staring in amazement at how majestic these animals looked, the rest of the three other SUVs whizzed by without ANY knowledge that there were wild animals within sight. SUCKERS! Continue reading

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Day 92: Nima (尼玛县) – September 17th

The clouds never cleared, so we slept in without catching the sunrise. Our recently added tour mates, four seniors in their 60s, did not have such a nice time. Being old and probably wealthy, they have a certain ‘expectation’ when it comes to food and sleep, so sleeping in a 8-person room with a crappy bed while the 27 dogs bark non-stop well into the night made it hard for them. Old people, not enough sleep = Cranky. Us, our the other hand, woke up well rested and was in no rush to head to the next destination, which was only a brief 3hr drive away!

We wandered around the village, which is known as a high-altitude oasis, and it definitely lives up to its name! Despite altitude being 4800m and overlooking a marvelously scenic lake and glaciers, it was fertile enough to have its own farm fields! It just happened to be harvest time!! There’s something incredibly charming about autumn colours of yellow wheat fields with a glacier backdrop, while a random sheep munches on green leaves on the ground. We helped ourselves to some turnips on the dirt ground, which tastes sweeter than an apple, but couldn’t find anything else edible =P

After lunch, we headed up to the NORTH village, which was also built over another lake and surrounded by glaciers. Seriously, if this was anywhere else in the world, you’d be paying $500USD to stay a night at the resort with a view like this….but we’ve been seeing this everyday.. =)

Arriving in the town of Nima, which actually means SUN in Tibetan while it just sounds plain funny in mandarin, we did what Tibetans would do when they had time… and sat in a tea-house drinking milk tea! Having electricity, it’s a very welcome back into the first world for a quick recharge.

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Day 91: Wenbu South (文部南村) – September 16th

Another morning, another beautiful day to admire the scenery. To kick things off, we arrive at Jiarenamucuo (戛热哪母措), which may possibly be the best we’ve seen so far. Climbing up to the top of a nearby hill, you can literally sit here for hours on end to soak it all in. So we did…

There’s something special about these high-altitude lakes, whether it be the overlooking glaciers that add a touch of serene beauty, or the rock particles that creates a ghastly blue no camera can ever show you… so I really won’t go on and on about how nice these things are, you may just have to come here yourself. Oh, but do it soon, before they start fencing up the lakes and charging an arm and a leg for looking at something mother nature gave us.

…so after a day of driving pass lakes (fortunately, again), we finally arrive at Wencun South, which was situated right next to Dongreyongcuo (档热雍措). The village is the SOUTH village, because there’s a NORTH village which is Buddhist, while the south village believes in Bon. We stayed at a local homestay, which was operated by the daughter of a well-respected Bon-priest. Arriving early in the afternoon, our other tour-mates did what any other Chinese person would do next to a beautiful lake….drink beer + play cards!!

For dinner, we took over their kitchen and cooked up all the veggies we bought back in town (villages != town, towns actually have places to spend your money) in Renduo. Without ANY sort of spices, we (i.e. Jiajia) cooked up a meal for 10 people with nothing but salt and a single stove-head. Respect.

At night, it started raining, but this proposed no issue except for a rather interesting one. The washroom is ‘al fresco’, which was little more than a mud hut without any roof….hahaha, but when you got to go you got to go. Just make sure you don’t step on any of the 27 dogs that wandered the premise in pitch darkness, as the village had no electricity…

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Day 81: Shigatse (日喀则) – September 6th

We began our trip loading our packs into a Toyota 4500 (Land Cruiser), the synonymous vehicle for travelling in Tibet. These cars are well over 12 years old, but still can take the beatings of the (excuse the pun) beaten paths of the Ali region. Our driver is also extremely awesome having garnered the nickname, “King of Ali / 阿里王”

The first destination was 羊卓雍措, a mountain-lake that reminded us of Lake Peyto back in Banff. Shimmering in a pure coral colour, it continues the tradition of awesome high-altitude lakes we’ve seen so far! It is also a one of a handful of saintly lakes in Tibetan traditions, and we can definitely appreciate its beauty without the added religious importance. With the skies being a intensely shaded colour of blue not seen elsewhere, and add a few picturesque clouds, you’ve got yourself a marvelous view.

Crossing over many mountain ranges, we see the familiar sights of colourful scriptures fluttering in the wind. At the 斯米拉山口, a young girl probably around 12 years old (note, this is a weekday, in the afternoon up in a mountain top) started hustling us to buy some scriptures of our own blessing!?!? Okay…! We couldn’t resist =)

Our driver definitely lived up to his name, knowing how to avoid unnecessary tourist traps, stopping by at remote locales to get great photo ops, and sharing a lot of his awesome stories and personalized opinions. He’s so awesome! Before arriving at our destination, we stopped by a smaller town with a really cool Tibetan fortress. This region is famous for honorably defending against the forward pressure by the Brits coming across from Nepal.

Arriving at Shigatse, the second largest city within Tibet, we checked into a hotel with a bunch of Westerners. What makes these Westerners special was that, they came in a group of 15, had their own entourage of 2 large trucks and all rode their own bikes! Seems like they were on a tour, aiming to ride into Everest Base Camp…. crazy! The only crazier part is, a lot of Chinese people actually do this, and they ride bikes and carry their own food/gear and do it in a group of 1-4. Compared to those riders, these Westerners are riding rather luxuriously…. so much less respectable despite the ridiculous journey… haha.

The even less respectable way, would be going to EBC in a SUV =P

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