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Carte Tibet


Lalung La pass (5050m)

Dans le fond, le toit du monde l'Everest, le Cho Oyu et le Makalu











Note 99 Tibet Xangmu to Lhassa: Where the mountains and the sky meet

28.04.07  After all the panoramic posting the Potala's pixelized picture in Nepal, I go to see it in live.

To obtain a visa for Tibet, it is necessary to pass by an agency and to travel by group (organized tour). For the best, the "group" is composed of 3 people; Erik, Czech and Zoltan, Slovak, who squabble as Flemish and Walloon, + me.

Our Tibetan guide, Pempa, awaits us at Xangmu, the nepalo/chinese border, in a glowing Landcruiser (Zoltan is tour operator in Bratislava and must be a V.I.P.). The interior looks like a living room, striped fitted carpet on the seats and on the ground, and television by all the windows.

The road going from the Nepalese border to Lhassa, the Friendship Highway, is mythical. It crosses the Top
of the World with 3 peaks beyond 5000m.

1st stop in Nyalam (3750m). Surprised, surprised, we are three in the room. Each one is nestling in its sleepingbag, the temperature of the room going down towards zero degree, without no other heating

that the slivovica, a house made plum brandy, klobasa, Slovak salami and bread from over there. I like this kind of organized trip.

29.04.07 Nyalam

There is a code of conduct in Tibet:

- not to show pictures of the Dalai Lama

- not to tackle with the Tibetans the sino/Tibetan questions

- not to take part in a celest burial: the body of the deceased is cut up, the bones are crushed and the pieces are given to the vultures (I did not insist).

The road goes forward horizontally and vertically, sending us to feel the frozen breath of the Himalayas at the peaks of Lalung La (5050m) and Tong (5200m) - 3850 m of difference in height since Katmandou. I live again the rise of Thorung La, but sitting in a comfortable jeep this time. The trees disappear gradually to leave place to a big desert, rocky plateau. On the top, the pray flags touch the sky and whisper the mantras through the wind. Each flag is like a satellite sending messages in the space.


Huge landscapes burned ground colours and ashy grey, dominated by superlatives of the tops, the Everest, (8848m-n°1), Lhotse (8516m-n°4), Makalu (8485m-n°5) and Cho Oyu (8188m-n°6). We cross, without going, the trail which joins the base camp of the Everest, on the north face.


Tingri The wool and salt merchants was crossing this India-China axis formerly.

We stop in a caravanserai for a cup of salted butter yak tea. Benches are arranged around the stove which functions with dried shit of yak. And did you knew it? Yak poo is worth much more as fuel that cow poo (yak 10 Yuans the bag, cow 4 Yuans the bag). The yaks eat only good grass of the high pastures whereas the

cows eat all what they find including plastic. It does not smell so good when it burns.

30.04.07 Lhatse-Shigatse

The Czechs use 10 words when the English use 1! They keep this habit when they speak in English. A talk of slameur rhythms my nomadic way; girls, beer, a car wash job in Australia the time to leatn english, a memory tattoo from New Zealand, questions, projects, home or trip ....


02.05.07 Gyantse,


Gyantse is overhung by a fort which protects the town. There is an anti-british memorial in the fort, the English having attacked Gyantse in 1904, but not a word on the invasion of the Chinese in Tibet (Oups my code of conduct).


I have since today a private room in a typically Chinese hotel (= tiled floor, thermos, plastic sandals, set of tooth brush, comb, small shampoos and television with 150 channels). I ate sweet-salted rice biscuits, watching the snooker world championship commented in Chinese (Great ... but no need for words

to understand)... up to the power cut at 10 PM.


The Southern road continues towards the peaks of Karo La (5200m) and Kamba La (4900m). The asphalted ribbon is held in a lace which, seen top, looks like the Great Wall.


After a turn, a small incredibly beautiful artificial lake of amilky green color with in the centre appears an abandoned stone-built house who overhangs a rock piton. Our jeep then will circumvent Yamdrok Tso, a so high lake (4400m) with turquoise water supplied with the molten snow of the high mountains.


It is not allowed to make photographs inside the monasteries. I lose my means of capturing the memories but they are, in short, the largest gompas, the oldest, the most important and the richest frescos.


Tashilumpo at Shigatse: Panchen Lamas residence and stupas. It houses a 26m high

Buddha of the Future statue, the biggest of the country.


Gyantse: the style is at the same time Nepalese, Tibetan, Chinese. The most




Jokhang in Lhassa. The oldest temple of Tibet and the holiest of the country.

Drepung: the biggest monastic center of Tibet. Populated formerly of 10000



Norbulingka: the Summer Palace. The door by which Dalai the LAMA escaped in



Potala: the most monumental. Residence of Dalai Lama, its entourage and a vast

monastic community.



03.05.07 Lhassa  

03.05.07 Lhassa  Considering the buildings with the blue windows, the rococo palm trees street lights, the large tiled esplanades, the disproportionate monuments at the glory of the Party, the sounds/lignt/water shows in front of the Potala, the city is not prohibited any more and the Chinese indeed gained the aesthetic control of the city.


But around Jokhang, the oldest monastery of the city, the Buddhist feeling is so powerful that Lhassa seems untouchable. The pilgrims of all the Tibet, the by far come nomads, the monks... stroll without stop. They achieve the holy circles (Barkhor), making turn their prayer wheel, prostrating, flapping their wood plates on the ground. The offerings of incense and juniper berries burn and release walls of wreath which wrap the monastery. And this spiritual intensity of the Tibetans makes that Lhassa is really not a Chinese Las Vegas.

Faces of Barkhor:


Thanks to Erik, because of who I am on 1 pix/ 2, "if not, it is like postcard". We call him Brad Pitt (although he rather looks like the last blond James Bond) for his mania to put his pumpkin (Czecho -slovakian expression) in front of the landscapes... Thanks to Zoltan whose the backbag was full with unending

resources. I loved to make this trip with them, 2 bon vivants, who like the good things of the life and

the journey, which taught me as much on Czech Republic and Slovakia that I learned about Tibet.


On the way back, the wind and Air China carry out me above the Himalayan giants, Kanchenjunga (8586m - n°3), the Everest and Makalu. My Nepalese -Tibetan horizon had as for only limit the 8 of 10 highest peaks of the world.


How many people are likely one day to paint the color of their dream. This journey, where the sidereal tops and the sky meet, has the color of my dreams.

For the questions relating to the situation Tibetan: to see note de route 100 Dharamsala 

Y Chang: a beer made with the excess of barley. Fresh, sharp with the opaque color of yeast.
Y To eat: the thantuk (soup of all, peas, cabbages, pastes punts, carrots...), momos Tibetans (raviolis with the vapor stuffed with vegetables, potatos, cheese...).
Y To see: "7 years in Tibet", with Brad Pitt, the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer meets in Lhassa the young person Dalai LAMA with whom it binds friendship. "Kundun" history of XIVe Dalai LAMA by Martin Scorsese.
Y To read: The eye of Tibet, a polar of Eliot Pattison, a Buddhist fiction
Tingting and White Snow(Milou) in Tibet, translated into Tibetan and Chinese
Y a bar impossible not to go in Lhassa: Makye Ame
Y the  10 highest mountain of the world

  Peaks name Height Location
1 Everest 8848 Nepal/Tibet
2 K2 8611 Pakistan/China
3 Kangchenjunga 8586 Nepal/India
4 Lhotse 8516 Nepal/Tibet
5 Makalu 8463 Nepal/Tibet
6 Cho Oyu 8201 Nepal/Tibet
7 Dhaulagiri 8167 Nepal
8 Manaslu 8163 Nepal
9 Nanga Parbat 8126 Pakistan
10 Annapurna I 8091 Nepal

Cat tinetine, reporter in Tibet, 5.5.07

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