Shigatse

Trip Start Sep 26, 2013
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Trip End Oct 26, 2013


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Flag of China  , Tibet,
Monday, October 7, 2013

We were up early this morning as we had an early departure to Shigatse. It was around the freezing mark outside when we woke up and not much warmer in our hotel room as we could not get the heater to work. I was planning on having a warm shower to help warm up but all we had was cold water so that didn't help. We loaded up the Land Cruiser in the dark and hit the road. There's nothing like looking at the stars to remind you you are far from home, Orion was directly above our head and the Big Dipper was just over the horizon. With 6 of us jammed into a Land Cruiser it didn't take long for it to start fogging up. We tried to catch a short nap on the way since you couldn't see anything but the roads were pretty rough so you could get more than a few minutes at a time. We made it to Shigatse shortly after 09:00 and managed to avoid any construction. Since we skipped breakfast in order to get on the road we went to a local restaurant right next to our hotel in Shigatse. We had noodle soup, large fried momos and sweet tea and it was awesome. There is always a risk with eating at some of the local restaurants which is why we only go to the ones recommended by Drujal or Tashi but the food is always way better and way cheaper than the tourist restaurants.

After breakfast we checked into our hotel which was a bit early and they were still in the process of cleaning our room. Gina and I decided to go and explore the hotel while we waited and found this fancy electronic Mah Jong table that we almost broke because we had no idea what we were doing. Apparently it has a tile shuffler built into the table and when we plugged it in we had tiles going everywhere. After that we decided to leave the table alone and go sort our room out. We met Drujal shortly after and headed into town to go for a walk around the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in the middle of the city. There were prayer wheels lining the outside walls of the monastery and the kora took you up into the hills behind the monastery where you got a great view of the city and surrounding mountains. We also encountered many sheep, goats and stray dogs in the hills. After walking around the monastery we went for a walk through the local market where there was no shortage of goat for sale. They were butchering it on cardboard and hanging the meat with the occasional pile of heads that you had to walk around. It was interesting to see. We stopped at one shop to buy prayer flags to hang on our kora around Mt. Kailash. The flags are decorated with different Buddhist mantras and the wind is supposed to spread word. Ours have symbolic animals. We continued our walk through the streets of Shigatse until we got to the restaurant where we were to have lunch. It was a tourist restaurant but the food was decent. I had yak chow mien again and Gina had curry. A lot of the tourist restaurants have Nepali cooks so the curry is very good.

After lunch we had more free time to wonder the streets and shops prior to meeting Tashi for a tour of the monastery. Gina bought a fleece for extra warmth for when we go into the mountains. She was happy to find something that actually fit as the arms on almost everything she has tried on here are way too short. I also bartered for a set of Buddhist rosary beads made of yak bone and got them for a third the initial asking price. Drujal said I got a good deal. The Buddhist rosary has 108 beads and you are suppose to use them to count mantras as you recite them. It is very common to see people everywhere here in Tibet walking around with a set of beads in their hand. After walking around we went for a short rest in the shade as we waited for Tashi to show up for our tour of the monastery. He was busy at the police station getting our permits to hike to Everest base camp in the coming days.

Tashi finally arrive and we went for a tour of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery. This is another of the six most important monasteries in Tibet of which we have now hit five this trip. This monastery was built in the 1400's by the first Dalai Lama and was given as a home to the Pachen Lama, the second in command in the old Tibetan government. The current Pachen Lama resides in Beijing and is under tight control of the government. The monastery contains the tombs of the previous Pachen Lamas as well as a massive 32m statue of future Buddha. After the tour we returned to the hotel and had a bit of free time before supper. I went for a walk around the hotel but there really wasn't anything exciting, all the shops were selling construction goods.

For supper we met up with Drujal and went to the hotel restaurant. It wasn't that busy but it was awful. We found out that the regular cook wasn't working and they had some new guy who was in way over his head. Drujal and I had finished our large beers and still no food. Finally Gina's meal showed up an hour after ordering and it was terrible. She ordered sweet and sour chicken and got something that resembled chicken pieces soaking in boiled vegetable juice. Lan's meal showed up half an hour after Gina's. She finished and still neither Drujal or I had our meals 2.5 hours after ordering. We got tired of waiting so we settled our bill for what we had gotten and went back to the local restaurant where we had breakfast. I was starving but very happy to be having local food instead of the other garbage. The menu was very limited at the local restaurant because we got there late but Drujal ordered us some beef soup. It was absolutely awesome. It was ground beef and green onions in a curry broth and it came with steamed buns that you could use to soak up the broth. So good.

We have another early morning tomorrow as we make our way to Rombuk, near Everest base camp. Depending on our arrival time and the weather, we may make the hike to base camp either in the afternoon or the next morning. We will be spending the next few days at >5000m. It will be good preparation for our hike at Mt. Kailash later on.

On that note we likely won't have much Internet access for the next week and a half as we are staying in very basic accommodations in very rural areas. I'll try to keep writing every day but may only get to upload all the entries on the day we get to Zhangmu on the Tibet Nepali border.

I lost Mrs. Coach's love as the Chiefs beat the Titans but I get a chance to win it back next weekend as the Titans play the Seahawks.

André and Gina
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Comments

Daaaddy on

Thanks to both of you for the excellent updates in your blog. They are so descriptive that I feel that we are with you. Ace continues to make friends with the deer, squirrels and even the neighbour's dog. Thankfully, he has avoided the skunks and porcupines. We will be thinking of both of you on your Anniversary.

Mama and Papa aka Coach and Mrs Coach on

Thinking of you both on your anniversary. Hope you are on top of the world for your day! We remember the great time we all had in Jasper with you.
We are off to Thanksgiving at the cabin tomorrow. Anxious to see the blogs once you are back to Internet somewhere

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