Chamdo-Bangda airport-Pashoe

carte jour 2
Abstrack=After the visit of the monastery of Chamdo, we retrace our steps to the airport of Chamdo and continue towards the S. After the visit of Pomda G and the passage of the Gama la pass we reach the Salween river. We go up a few kms and head for Pashoe.

Chamdo . After having left the Guesthouse and taken a Chinese breakfast with soup, etc... the driver leads us behind the Tibetan city to the entry of the Monastery, on the hillock which overhangs the city.

This Monastery is surrounded by an enclosure several kilometers long. The Toyota was parked inside the enclosure, on the right of a large esplanade, in front of the Nyingmapa Temple. Past the gate, the eye embraces:

  • on the left, the Temple of the Great Buddha and the temple of the protective tantric god Hevajra (separated by a small building),

  • facing us is a line with, on the right, the entry of the Large Temple or Dukhang and at its end a large building (Labrang) of 4 floors where the Superior of the Monastery resides,

  • and on the right, recessed, stands the Nyingmapa Temple.
The Dukhang impresses us with its size with its 144 pillars and by the richness of the statues of gold and their sizes, Lamas are sitting in two rows and are reading religious texts backed by the harmony of melodious music instruments. The voice echoes a long time in our ears.
We discover the large amount of banknotes left by pilgrims on altars and that nobody disturbs.

After having visited the chapels and mixed with a crowd of Tibetans we continue the visit by the Labrang whose frontage is very luxurious but where there is nothing to visit. We take in a side lane on the right . A door on the right opens onto a small courtyard which leads on the left to a small temple containing a large prayer wheel.

We continue following the continuous stream of Tibetans who circle the monastery clock wise and return by the outside the enclosing wall to the principal entry gate.

While passing along two gardens which are used as play-grounds by the young monks we see two small temples of which one contains two prayer wheels and the second seems dedicated to the popular gods.

From the path we have a spectacular view of the Mekong valley below, the urban expansion, the new and the old bridge which span the Mekong in the E of the city. We leave the monastery, cross the bridge to the E of the old city where we enter in the middle of the new Chinese city, the driver parks in an unauthorized place, while the guide leaves us to look for food for lunch.
While leaving the city, the driver stops at a gasoline station, a detached house and with a narrow opening at the bottom of a large car park. It is necessary to look for the employee. The pipe emerges from this small opening located at 1m off the ground and is normally closed. We return along the same road as the previous day. We pass the Drayab junction, use again the Chomo la pass where the temperature is as cool as yesterday and go down towards the airport of Chamdo.

After the pass and the airport, the very beautiful valley, and which resembles the landscapes of the Tibet Highlands I crossed five years earlier. No culture, only some yaks in sight. We want to take photographs but miss the best pictures, because the ideal vantage point is now behind us and we are reluctant to ask the driver to go back. After stopping for lunch on the grass by the river side, we reach Bomda. We cross the village and its chorten before reaching the monastery of Yalung gompa, 1 km further in a valley in westerly direction.

The lay out is traditional, a court and a Dukhang. The monks offer us some Tibetan tea and tsampa.
Then we continue toward Pashoe. three km to the S we pass a village. I see a crossroad with a road on the right side but the driver goes up the valley. In spite of our requests the driver continues to drive. We meet a country-woman, yes, we must go back. Indeed in the village of Yanyi which we crossed without slowing down, a panel, but well off the road gives the way.

We drive up a dirt track between the houses of the village and to go up to the mountainside by an interminable succession of bends to reach the Gama la pass (4839m).

The descent is also sinuous (more than 150 bends) and crosses successively the villages of Gamakö and Gatok which are surrounded by terrace cultivation. There are beautiful pictures to take here. At the level of the first village, the army is building a new broad concrete road several kilometers long. Nearly 500 men are working, watched by soldiers. A work foolish and pointless. Is the idea of measure missing in a Chinese brain? But it may be a camp of forced labour.

Then, the valley becomes increasingly narrow before leading to the Salween valley, whose water has an anthracite colour.
We cross the bridge and go up the Salween eastern bank 10/15 km to a new bridge which crosses it and we go up the Ling chu tributary, towards the W, in direction of Pashoe.

This valley is even narrower than the previous one. Impossible to catch a good GPS point because satellites reception fails us. After 20km approximately I decide to go up on a side valley towards the S until Lingkar in the search of a monastery. Not only the way which bringing us there is terrible, but in the village, we learn that the monastery is in sight but requires a eight hour walk! We return back to the Ling chu River and the road of Pashoe.

While approching we see a monastery on the hill which overhangs the road. We are informed, it is empty and difficult of access. There is some vegetation here and we pass through a small village. As the night is falling, we reach Pashoe, a small Chinese city with its 2 lines of one floor buildings with their white ceramic tiles. The guesthouse is almost full and we will be 4 in the same room. The small restaurant is opposite. The tables are separated by light partitions, we hear a group of young Tibetan girls singing from time to time, with melodious voices. We bend our heads around the partitions to look.

As foreigners are rarely seen, we are immediately invited to their table. The three girls have come with their aunt, doctor at the local hospital and are accompanied by their small children. The husbands, requisitioned for road works, are missing. The aunt orders a small plastic can of 3 litres of chang. The habit is to empty a glass at one gulp. As it is titrated with 4° alcohol and as glasses are liquor glasses, this is not dangerous but convivial and with each round the songs redouble. The evening is prolonged, the voices become raucous. Olivier is much admired. The girls insist on making appointments for next day in Pashoe, he is on a cloud.

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