Shetongmon-Shigatse-Rasa guesthouse

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Abstract= We leave Shetongmön for Shigatse, visit Narthang G or what it remains about it before reaching the guesthouse of Rasa.

Shetongmön. We leave the city rather early.

I can took some pictures of Tarting Gompa from the middle of the plain, but the monastery was almost five kilometres in distance. We arrived around midday lacking in morale in Shigatse, as the return journey felt doubly painful.
I climb to the Public Security Bureau with the guide and I voice my anger to the civil servant who receives us and declared that he does not have to modify the decisions taken by Lhasa authorities, that they act as if in an occupied country. I understand later that the object of this operation was to force the guide pay a fine of 300 yuans, a trick used to generate a little cash. We did not remain in Shigatse any longer and carried on towards the Nepalese border. After having driven twenty kilometres, we arrive in the village of Narthang.

The monastery is 100 m north of the road and can easily be missed as little remains of the large monastery after the passage of the Red Guards. We reach a courtyard where we discovered some small buildings.

There were formerly three large circular enclosures which covered several hectares and of which we can only see the bases of the walls. We distinguish the site of the chortens which contained the relics of saints as well as the walls of the old Dukhang which had 108 pillars. Only 40 monks remain instead of several thousands as previous.

The new Dukhang with 12 pillars contained a large statue of Cakyamuni, and on the first floor, two chapels of meditations. Here Atisha would have performed miracles and the hearts of the 16 Buddhist disciples who have a cord here which enables them to return to earth to visit the living creatures.
This monastery was founded in the 12th century and with the instigation of the Panchen-Lamas in the 17 th century became the official printing works of Tibet where the Kanjur and the Tanjurs editions where normally printed. Each with more than 100 volumes containing the Buddha teachings and their comments. Consequently more than 100.000 engraved wood boards consuming a large amount of space and labour. Actually new editions are printed using modern techniques in another Chinese province . We have seen such set of books in the monasteries of Lhartse and of Tengyeling.

Close to the new Dukhang, a small building contains a certain number of boards and objects which were recovered after the fire.
We continued by road climbing a small pass, sharing the watershed of Nyang chu and Shab chu Rivers. After the crossing, we leave on our right the monastery of Gangchen.

Shortly before Jidding, the driver stoped the vehicle on the road side. For no obvious reason , the driver indicated to us that he must change a spi-washer on the main driveshaft below the car. He stoped a vehicle coming in the opposite direction whose driver lent us a hammer needed to repair. Here there is a time for everything, no haste, nor sign of irritation. The repair was completed in half an hour.

We took to the road again and after having crossed the Shab chu river in Jidding, we stop at a police checkpoint who checks our driver papers and those of the vehicle.

At next junction, we turned left to follow the Ra chu valley which rose up to Lagpa la pass. The valley was V shaped and relatively narrow with some herds of sheeps visible on the mountain slopes. After having passed two villages, we reach a lonely guesthouse standing on the road side, much like the inns in our own country. This is quite unusual in Tibet.
There are already several vehicles stoped and our driver and our guide joined the tables where lorry drivers are playing games in the front courtyard. The game uses dices and small white stones which one lays out in small heaps which are moved or change hands. I was not know if to win we must earn or lose but all was very animated. We have a tibetan menu with yak meat mixed with fried potatoes and accompanied by rice. Our driver falls in love with a girl and they spend the night together in a separate room.

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