The reception is cordial as before. We return back to the Brahmaputra junction and take the Lhasa road. On the main road, there are fewer ruts, but a rough ride health is needed to resist.
Abstract = Going up the Brahmaputra river and its sand banks. We visit Kuru G in a side valley, then Gyatsa G. We leave the river to cross Podrang la pass. Will see Lagyari G and will visit Rong G before finding a guesthouse in Sangri.
Nang Dz. We find a coffee in a kind of modern bar before leaving Nang. The weather is overcast.
We wash ourself with cold water. The breakfast is frugal and the driver hopes to reach Tsetang in the evening. We thus catch up one of our 2 days of delay.
We pass some hill-villages on the northern side of the Brahmaputra and in Dromta we leave this valley to go up a tributary which leads towards the monastery of Namgyel gompa.
The road is rough again. We pass 2 small road side villages before arriving at the monastery.
Kurap Namgyel gompa is in the middle of the village, and people here call it Kuru gompa. It may have been built by the 2nd Dalai Lama and rebuilt by the 5th.
The sand banks are numerous and the car climbs several hundred meters. We arrive in Gyatsa Prefecture.
The monastery is in the middle of the Tibetan city, which is located between the main road and the river. It was rebuilt 50m away from that destroyed by the Chinese. There are approximately 50 monks. Here again, monks recite sutras in the Dukhang, others prepare tormas and a third group is playing music on the long Tibetan horns, on the first floor. We are told the city is prohibited to the foreigners. This old monastery was Kargyupa before passing Gelugpa at the time of the 5th Dalai Lama.
Shortly after Gyatsa the road leaves the Brahmaputra to follow a tributary leading to Podrang la pass at 4937m.
The top of the pass is covered with cairns and banners of lungtas flapping in the wind, the landscape is the most impressive we have seen so far. The sight is entirely free and the sky very pure.
The 360° horizon is a succession of summits covered with deep snow, their number incalculable. Our Cartesian mind could not visualize this, but they are there in front of us. Fascinating, unforgettable! As the navigator who crosses on his frail boat the 50th howling and who feels quite insignificant compared to the force of the elements and of nature, the traveller feels here quite humble in front of the beauty of those landscapes. And up above, of course, for the Tibetans, the kingdom of gods...
The descent is done with less curbs than previously and while approaching the bottom of the valley, the villages use all surface available for cultivation. At the intersection of a valley coming from the S, the valley broadens and we arrive in the new prefecture of Chusum, or old Lagyari Dz. Here, no street, apparently nor any modern Chinese building, but a lot of Tibetan houses scattered in the valley on nearly one square kilometer.
When we arrive at the level of a monastery located on the northern side of the road, the car stops close to a house under construction. The river of Lagyari which flows parrallel to the road is between us and the monastery! There is no bridge or passage from this place, to be seen. The guide has a discussion then with the people who are building the house. They inform us we cannot reach the monastery this evening. The houses are built with clay bricks on a base of stones and the frontages are covered with clay-mortar applied by hand by women. People are friendly and sometimes all sing together. It seems that they are expert in all common work and that all the nationhood takes part in the construction, as it was certainly the case in our own countryside until the 19th century. We can only take pictures of the remote monastery. At this time, the GPS ceases functioning. I will spend more than half hour to re-initialize it. The valley narrows and becomes more sinuous and narrow there is only room for one car. Happily there is no traffic. We return to the Brahmaputra valley, which is quite broad there, cross the village of Rong and on the hill top on our left, wa can see the ruins of the ancient dzong (fortress).
Behind the houses of the village we discover the monastery of Chakar Chöde gompa which is gelugpa and contains a beautiful statue of Cakyamuni. After our visit we go back to the Tsetang road. But when we arrive to a crossing with a large bridge across the Brahmaputra river the driver decide to cross here in order to reach the new prefecture of Sangri which is located just nearby. There is a guesthouse. Here the Chinese civil servants of Public Security arrive in our room to notify to us that the city is prohibited to foreigners. But they are obliged to accept us as the permit scheduled the visit of Dzinchi which is on the way further. The driver comes here but not in Tsetang because he wishes to spend the night with girls whom he knows. In the coffee shop where we dine, one refuses nothing to him. I buy some roasted chicken legs from a travelling merchant the street which will be as delicious but their aspect is worrying. That largely improves the menu already ordered. Fortunately Monique is not there, she would have spoilt the evening.