Anthony's Interesting Times 2004 travel blog

Prayer wheels on the pilgrim kora, Shigatse

Mani stones on the pilgrim kora, Shigatse

For those who ask for pics of me - God knows why!...

Sakya south-side - note pink and grey colours common to this part...

Minor Sakya Monastery

Entrance to small monastery, Sakya

Sakya monks (note huge glasses of pilgrim - very common in Tibet)

Yann, Yumi, Jochen and I at the 5,200 metre pass marking the...

No more headaches, but I slept very badly, presumably because of the altitude. After much palaver getting what could be our last hot water for a while out of the shower, the three of us walked the Tashilhunpo Kora, that is the pilrimage path round the outside of the Monastery. This was great. And a really nice curry for lunch.

And then after lunch to Sakya, at 4,280 metres, another 1,000 feet up, to more than 14,000. With a brief stop to take photos and dodge beggars at this sign that marks 5,000 kms from Beijing, though I have easily travelleed twice that. A bit of a rough drive, but only scary in places. A real one yak town though, and mobbed by Tibetan beggars on arrival. Peggy negotiated us a good price, and Jochen, Yumi and I are again room-mates, though there is no hot water in town, but as you can see it has internet - one machine in some signmakers place - though I still can't get my normal e-mails.

Next day: Quite a night. As we were having our usual yak-based dinner, these scarily made-up women drifted in and started trying to hit on the drivers. I was very suprised to see so many Chinese prostitutes in the middle of Tibetan nowhere. It turns out that our hotel is he place to go for about a 100 mile radius, and there was much extremely loud and awful karaoke until about 4 am. I'm still not sleeping well because of teh altitude and a bad cold, and the cold and the racket didn't help. Quite a contrast with the 'primitive' and devout Tibetan scene in the morning when we went to the monasteries.

So in the morning we wandered through the old Tibetan part of town to explore the other side of the valley, particularly a small monastery there, and then back to the main Saya Monastery. This was the best monastery I have been in yet in terms of sheer atmosphere. It was very dark indeed in placers, so much so that a torch was necessary to avoid slipping down yak-buttery steps. It was also packed with huge and scary demons in the semi-darkness. But spookiest of all was the entrance way to one chapel full of demons. Hanging above the entrance were a number of dead wolves, eagles(?) and other fierce creatures.

And then lunch in Lhatse - a real one street, twenty horses and thirty rotavators town - and on to spend the night nearby in New Tingri, via anoher high pass, increasingly dramatic scenery, and more scary roads. And my first glimpse of Everest - or Qomolongma ('Q' pronounced 'Ch") - as it is known here. I was thrilled, though it was bloody cold.

New Tingri is even more of a one street, ten horse wild-west town. Most of the hotel options had unbelievably gross toilets, especially the upmarket ones. You won't want to know the details, but the quality of toilet is sinking from evil to something I have yet to think of a word for. Yumi is quite affected by this and nearly throws up at every new toilet horror. The only thing I could think of was that this was a deliberate ploy by staff to avoid the work of having any guests.

We had dinner (yak) in this Tibetan place that was really nice (and warm), until this loud and large party of American exchange students turned up. It was a well cold night as well, and the first time I have had to use my sleeping bag, albeit to avoid the gross sheets.

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