|The hotel had not hot water so after boiling a jug and trying to spongebath with it in 2C temperatures, I spent the morning at the Gyantse Castle and monastery then headed to Shigatse.
Shigatse is Tibet's second largest town and was about a 2 hour drive northwest from Gyantse. It is the home of the Panchen Lama, who ranks second to the Dalai Lama and who is considered the reincarnation of the Buddha of Infinite Light. Its a sprawling place, with dusty uneven streets humming with traffic. Shigatse has a Potala-look alike on one hilltop but the fort is empty and most of what you can see dates from a 2007 reconstruction. We took a walk up there but the outside is much better than the inside.
The real drawcard, apparantly, is the Tashilhunpo Monastery, which is visited daily by hundreds of devotees armed with yak butter to fuel the lamps. Sound familiar?? I paid my 55Yuan to get in, and after about 5 minutes decided I could not take any more monasteries and left.
The modern city is divided up into a tiny old Tibetan town huddled at the foor of the fort, and a rapidly expanding modern Chinese town. The bazaar buzzes with life and sells everything from slabs of yak butter and yak wool to prayer wheels and rosaries. But in reality I spend most of my time at the 'Fair Price Supermarket' buying everything from Snickers to thermals.
The hotel was supposed to be business class, and it was anything but! The biggest problem was that the room Monica and I were in was unable to be opened from the inside so anytime we wanted to get out we had to yell out to people passing in the hall and hope that someone would understand English enough to let us out. The shower did not work, although the bathtub had a trickle of lukewarm water a so all I had was a cup and a tap to wash with. I tell you what, I can see why Tibet does not see many tourists!
Unfortunately I can't upload photos here so that will have to wait.