The road day has been long but less intense than in previous days from Shighatse to Shegar or Shelkar where I write at this time.
From Shigatse to Shegar on the Friendship RoadALTITUDE 3,670 m We have returned to sleep at "reasonable heights" in Shigatse although more with that sense of calm that precedes the storm that awaits us at the base camp and that still worries me. 5,200 meters are many meters to spend a night although I have not yet felt the slightest discomfort and have exceeded 5,000 m several times. With those thoughts, after having breakfast and looking for a bank - impossible issue - that changed some money, we have put heading around 10'00 to the Tibetan territory closest to Nepal.
We roll for the famous Friendship Road or China-Nepal Highway, that Chinese national 318 that in these 806 km that separate Lhasa (Tibet) from Kathmandu (Nepal) takes the name of the Friendship Bridge that is on the border between the towns of Zhangmu and Kodari and that leaves some of the most impressive landscapes in the world between large expanses of meadows and the highest mountains. Our route of the day will be this ...
Also the same that leaves in the distance authentic and unexplored monasteries for many foreigners like the ones we met yesterday in Samding or Ralung. An advice: Add at least one to your itinerary if you want to know Tibet more spiritual and less adulterated.
Tomorrow we will leave it to go to the Rongbuk monastery and the north face of Mount Everest.IMPORTANT NOTE YOU MUST READ: If you have reached this article of travel diary to Tibet and you get this box is that already We are within the Autonomous Region of Tibet and you must know 3 data:1 This story is part of a complete guide to our trip to Tibet and has many more items that will help you prepare yours. Mind you, Tibet is more than Lhasa although many packages are limited to it.
2 It is NOT possible to travel to Tibet for free. Beyond the Chinese visa itself, it is necessary to obtain a Tibet Entry Permit that you will be required to catch any flight / train that goes inside and during your trip. This procedure ONLY AND EXCLUSIVELY can be obtained by hiring a tour with a specialized agency. We have traveled with Youlan Tours which also allows you to design a Tailor-made trip with different unique experiences to traditional routes throughout China, working with Spanish guides.
3 It doesn't even have to say you must have travel insurance but BE CAREFUL, BE CAREFUL, you need an appropriate one that allows you to perform activities up to 5,200 meters and not everyone has that coverage (or almost none). Ours, as always, is that of IATI Insurance although this time we need the BACKPACK mode to have all the coverage at those altitudes
Although the Friendship Highway really is considered only this stretch between Tibet and Nepal, the Chinese national 318 part of Shanghai, that mega city that seems to have been 6 months since we stepped on but that will really be now 2 weeks of travel. Today we stood next to an old dzong in the kilometer 5,000 of national bliss they call "the most beautiful scenic road in the world"(We have also bought some gifts for 70 CNY)
Well, you know how these things are, so was the "Denali Highway, the best scenic highway in Alaska" and many others known in travel. So, little by little, we return to take height and stop at a mountain pass already at 4,500m that stands out for the lovely colorful leave prayer flags that do not abandon us throughout the trip
Things of technology, how can it be that more than 8,400 kilometers from my house I get that little Olivia has a fever that is why they call "the internet of things" -the thermometer connected to home and we to the mobile router-? Who was going to tell me this 12 years ago when we opened the blog?
Sakya Monastery, the gray houses and the gold libraryALTITUDE 4,320 m It is around 2:00 pm when, after taking a detour (and passing another checkpoint) and traveling a few kilometers, we enter a gray spot that gives its name to the Sakya monastery (literally "gray land" in Tibetan). We soon realize that Sakya is not a monastery anymore, is a huge "Mongolian town" of 45,000 m2, which looks like a square-based fortress that dominates it with colors that have nothing to do with other monasteries, of red, white and gray dyes which seems to represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapan
Sakya monastery wasbuilt in 1073 by Khon Khonchong Gyalpo, devised in India by Master Gayadhara, when he was king of Tibet. However, the aspect of strength comes from its subsequent transformation in 1268 for defensive purposes.
The sakyapa sect has many other differences with everything we have visited on this trip but before continuing, we have to take energy to visit the interior of the temple.RESTAURANTS IN TIBET | SAKYA: Manoxarovar Restaurant, unique restaurant full of images and thangkas on the main street
With Tibetan cuisine and Chinese, Nepalese and Mongolian dishes
With a full stomach we walk some streets of the town. The atmosphere is rarefied although it sure does not help that the day threatens a storm (please, please, open tomorrow to see Everest). Yak butter, so used in local tea, is sold here in whole cans.
Thus, we approach the entrance of that enormous gray fortress and begin to realize the importance of this place
Sakya's story is intrinsically linked to the Khön lineage and nothing has to do with the reincarnation or decision of the monks in their succession but that marriage has always been allowed and inherited within the Khön family for 41 generations and they are in charge of guarding what they call the teaching of the Lamdré or "Way of the Fruit".
But the legend tells that ten generations before the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava, the Khön were a race of celestial beings that descended from the heavens to reside in the snowy mountains of Tibet. This adorns today most of the rooms that we begin to see from the first squares of reddish buildings as we enter the monastery
And there it is, the most beautiful and impressive room of all we have seen in Tibet, a hall where imposing tree trunks support ceilings of almost 20 meters making columns; Murals, works of art of incalculable value and beautiful thangkas cover the walls and monks of red cap, lotus are dressed in red tunic and walk through their rooms (photos are not allowed, a shame)BRUSHED TO UNDERSTAND TIBETAN BUDDHISM (VOL8):
Attend a celestial tibetan funeral It is almost impossible for a foreigner and for anyone outside the uninvited family but it is important to know him. It is a VERY HARD ritual where a priest dismembers the dead man's body in front of those close to him and gives it to the vultures to "ascend to heaven." It could be considered a different version of the role of the Towers of Silence that we saw in other trips, coming from Zoroastrianism like Iran or Uzbekistan but here the ceremony continues with the crushing of the bones and mixed with flour to facilitate their digestion to the birds.
900 years of history they give rise to gray corridors, a maze of small and untidy sanctuaries, long red benches of a courtroom, an area for tantric activity and a wall coming down that formerly occupied dozens of golden Buddhas. What's behind? A small hallway has the answer. Is the most magical place ever seen and that leaves you breathless, a forgotten library in a lost village of Tibet with more than 100,000 manuscripts, books and scrolls, true treasures of an abandoned writing, in an immense room full of drawers of red, orange and golden cloth with an atmosphere taken from an Indiana Jones movie (Photos: Shuttershock)
And as if the heavenly gods that protect the Sakya monastery had wanted it, that strange rarefied environment that we perceive since our arrival leaves the First snow on us more than 4,000 meters and invites us to go out with some of the rmore unique pilgrims' oysters of the whole trip.
Do you believe in the signs? Something told us at that time that our time was over and that gray monastery with beautiful ceilings and walls, rows of golden statues and large books warned us of something I will never understand.
The new Shegar, our stay for tonight
We could have arrived at Everest Base Camp today, sure, but I think our hostess on this trip (Irene) is a specialist for something and she knew we had to sleep before facing our way without hurry.
An important checkpoint that gives access to western Tibet (remaining for another trip) and a new step at 5,100 meters without major problems, they occupied the following hours of road.
We even had time to do a "private safari" of high mountain bird watching and stop at kilometer 5.114 to contemplate in the distance the shops of the Dropa, families of nomadic shepherds who survive absent from the world with just butter candles and some improvised stove to one of the most adverse weather conditions on the planet. Some say they have heard them singing mantras in the distance
It's around 19.30 when we arrive at Shegar Rooftop the World Grand Hotel, a kind of roadside motel in very good condition, where we will spend transit tonight (and even have dinner in a large room with all kinds of food).
Gone is an exciting and strange day where we have approached one of the most mystical places in Tibet, the Sakya monastery and its golden library of Tibetan Buddhism. Tomorrow the great objective of the adventure awaits us. Will we be able to "survive" at 5,200m high at Everest Base Camp?
Isaac (with Sele), from Shegar (Tibet)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 0 CNY and GIFTS: 70 CNY (approx. 9.34 EUR)