19 MAY – This morning we had breakfast at our hotel and then boarded the bus to start our 3 day journey toward Mt. Everest. Our bus is a medium sized one, so we all have room for bags and to spread out. Bryan, Zoe and I snagged the first row of seats so there is a bit of room in front us for Zoe to play and stand up. After about and hour of driving we got to the bottom of our winding steep drive up to GambaLa pass – about 4700m. Before heading up we learned about water burial and stopped at a place along the Lhasa river where they do such a ritual. At the top of the pass were some nomads selling pictures with their yaks and dogs. So, for 80cents Zoe got to sit on a yak and pet the nice doggies. She loved the dogs, but was a bit nervous about the yak – or maybe nervous about the lady who owned the yak. We then drove back down the other side which was not as far to Yamdrock lake. It was a gorgeous teal-blue huge sacred lake surrounded by brown mountains. In the distance we could see the first of the super-high snow covered peaks.
The weather has been amazing and clear! Interestingly, though, the terrain really just makes us think of Nevada – brown rocky mountains with very little growing. The only thing that seems to grow outside of the river banks is a small mossy-grass that the yaks eat….and they are all over the hills. We got out at the lake to take pictures and touch the water. Lunch was at a tiny random strip mall type place in the middle of nowhere, but was good. A family from Malaysia shared some yummy canned tuna and spicy prawns in addition to the rice, yak, and veggies we purchased. Another stop after another hour or so was at the base of a the giant Kalais kora glacier. It was magnificant.
A few more hours in the bus found us in Gyantse to see the Palkor Temple and palace. It was unique in that it is walled and was actively used to fight the British when they occupied India only 200km away. The walk around was neat – more gold buddhas and protectors and lots of locals who wanted to touch, hold, or play with Zoe. At one point the rest of the group when into the giant stupa while we just hung outside to run around. She loved running in the big courtyard and lots of the Tibetans and monks got a kick out of it. One of the child monks held her hand for a while too. Outside the monastery we bought a great mask of a ‘protector’ for our house and Zoe got to pet a very nice little puppy.
We got in the bus again, but soon stopped to see a small farm where a local man showed us how they grind barley. Tibetans eat barley and wheat instead of rice like the majority of China. It was interesting and dusty and a nice break from the bus. In fact, the whole bus ride took all day, but we stopped enough to keep fresh, interested, and awake (except for our after lunch nap). From there on the drive was alot more green as we had entered the valleys and farmland. Got to see many people out tilling with their yaks; this is planting season. We drove into Shigatse around 7pm and checked into the hotel. Par for the course, we had to change rooms twice…the first time since our lock wouldn’t work and the second since our heat wouldn’t work. Oh well, the place was nice once we settled! Had dinner with the group which was quite enjoyable. Bryan and I had a yak burger which was delicious!!! Zoe had a great apple pancake and shared some yak biryani.