carte jour 22
Abstract= We leave Nyemo and join the Brahmaputra River which we descend up to the monastery of Chokorgyetsel and the Lhasa bridge. On the southern bank we pass Kampa la pass, following the bank of the Yamdrok lake before visiting Samdring G. In Karo la pass the Toyota breaks down. We arrive late in the evening in Gyantse!

Nyemo. We leave Nyemo with an overcast sky,

cross Lhundrupgang again and continued due south towards the Brahmaputra River.

We cross the road of four valleys to follow the narrowest and southern one which traced downstream along the Nyemoma chu River. The valley became narrow, sinuous and joined the Brahmaputra. The valley has also a V shape and twenty kilomtres further, past the village of Tön, became extremely narrow.

We imagine that the river must be deep with a such a strong current.

After this passage, the valley opened into a broad plain. The cultures reappear with many villages on either side of the valley. A bridge led to a broad valley which opens on southern bank of the Brahmaputra. We continue and arrive in a village where we visit the monastery of Chökor Gyetsel.

It is of modest size, slightly on the N of the road and can easily be missed. There are two chapels in the courtyard and behind the second, there is a bedroom where the Dalai Lama slept.

We take to the road again and continue to descend the Brahmaputra up to the bridge of the Lhasa-Nepalese border Highway.

We crossed the bridge, southward and continued for a few kilometres by going up the river on its southern bank.

Near the second village, a crossing and our road enters southward in a valley towards Kampa la pass.

The slope is stiff and the bends numerous before reaching the top (4827m high). On the summit, we have one of the most beautiful sights toward the S with the long Himalayan range in front of us if the sky were clear!

Unfortunately the weather is rather overcast on the horizon and cold in spite of the sun. The guide and the monk placed many lungtas. The guide was keen to burn branches of juniper trees which he carries with him but there was too much wind. The sight of the Yamdrok lake is always impressive. The road wound down again to the level of the lake. We follow the shore up to the village of Pelti Dzong.

There are still the traces of the ruins of old dzong and a new lhakhang is in construction in the center of the village.

We continue southward and past a loop of the lake. in the middle of a large meadow, there are some tents which encourage us to stop for lunch. We eat and take to the road again. We have a puncture and must change of wheel. Arriving at the Prefecture of Nakartse, we drop our wheel in a mechanic shop located at one end of the city. This city has remained entirely tibetan but is without interest, where recent constructions are not really visible.

We travelled eastward to pay a visit to the monastery of Samding. The building was founded in the 12th century and the head of Bodongpas. It was razed by Red Guards and is now partially rebuilt. It is L shaped and located at the foot of a hill. The smaller temple shelters a ten meter high statue of Buddha.

The second is more imposing but under construction and there is a great quantity of building materials in the courtyard. We return to Nakartse where our wheel has been repaired.

We then take the road for Karo la pass. We climb by a straight road which follows the northern bank of the river. Unfortunately, three kilometres before crossing the top, close to the site where the battle which opened the road of Lhasa to the troops of Younghusband in 1904, the back axle of the Toyota breaks. I suppose that the cir-clip which maintained the axle failed. The driver succeeds in re-positioning the axle but we run only for 10 meters.

The situation is critical. The GPS indicates 5200 meters and the night will fall within one hour. Our driver lies under the vehicle and tries to engage the axle back in place but this one refuses to position itself correctly. I understand, taking into account the nature of the breakdown, that any hope of repair on the spot is useless. In Nakartse, the mechanic who repaired our tyre had said that a bus will pass for Gyantse at the end of the day. The portable does not function here! We decide to leave the driver here. He will stay with the car waiting for help the next day and the guide will accompany us to Gyantse in the end of day bus. When the bus finally arrives, the sun is setting, and it is quite full. The driver of the bus then asked us to await the small truck which follows him with part of the luggage. It arrives, we go up a little in excess, there is already a group of three young American tourists close to the driver. After having gone one kilometre, I realized that I have left the camera in the Toyota! I stop the truck, I get out of the vehicle and run back to the Toyota. In spite of the altitude, there is no problem when going down but going back up, I get out of breath quickly, and struggle badly. Fortunately, a Chinese army truck passes on the road, stops and I am able to hitch-hike up the last 600 meters. Ouf!

Our troubles however were not over. We descend the pass in an ever narrowing valley, which emerges in a large N-S valley that we follow southward during 20 to 30 kilometres. In the half, we pass the junction of the track which leads to the monastery of Ralung. We glimpse this monastery half way up the slope approximately five kilometres from us. I am annoyed because we were unable to visit it. Not only has the visibility reduced but night falls. When we arrive in the valley of the Nyeru chu River, the snow starts to fall. At this point we find out that the windscreen wipers do not function. At the beginning the driver stops every km to move the snow, but as the snow get heavier visibility is blocked within a few seconds. To make matters worse we have a ravine on our left. However the driver with the window full opened leaned his head outside into the icy wind and carries on without really slowing down! The river ends in a large lake and a significant hydro-electric power plant.

Although I am concerned for our lives, luck is on our side, (thanks to to monks of Pabongka monastery!) we arrive at 22h00 in the Prefecture of Gyantse where we find a guesthouse and a restaurant near the bus station. The guide is on the telephone to Tensing for a long time because, either our driver can do the repairs by tomorrow morning and join us tomorrow evening, or a new vehicle must arrive here for next day. We go to bed with some apprehensions concerning our future destiny. The hotel is pleasant. We get to know a group of English people in the hall who are on a pilgrimage to the spot of the Younghusband military camps. They have many problems as the majority of the Indian Army camps are now Chinese army camps.

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