Shigatse to Samye – 12th May 2014 – Tour day 13

We had a leisurely start today and had breakfast at the third eye restaurant again.

Our leader has been warning us if the effects of altitude sickness seemingly since we arrived in Tibet and has said that we will be most affected when we are at a Everest base camp and staying in the tent city tomorrow night.  Consequently most of the group had purchased an oxygen pillow in case we need to use it during the night.  We’re both sceptical about the need but have gone with the flow and night one between us…just in case! We also went to the pharmacy this morning to buy some more paracetamol although could only manage to get a cold remedy – but at least it contains paracetamol! 

We left the hotel at 10am for the 4 hour drive to  Sakye.  We had a couple of stops on the way including one at a small town where a couple of small dirty children came along for money and where there were stake seeking the usual tat. 

We are now on the ‘Friendship Highway’ between Tibet and Nepal.  It was built with money from the Shanghai government and do the milestones on the road show the distance from Shanghai…currently 5018km! This road will take us ever closer to the Himalayas and Mount Everest which we should be able to see tomorrow.

Or third stop was at or one mountain pass today, the Tsuo La (4500m).  As is usual the past was bedecked with prayer flags and a fair bit of rubbish. We walked up some steps to the top of a ridge 4580m and took some pictures before getting back on the bus for the descent into the valley below. 

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We arrived at Sakye at about 2 and after checking in met for lunch.  The town itself is home to about 10,000 people but is not nearly as developed as the last place! The hotel is nice enough but there is no heating or hot water.  The room is freezing and it is definitely warmer outside. 

After lunch we visited the  monastery which is home to the colourful sect of Buddhism.  There were three chapels to see and each has the usual buddhas.  In this sect the lama is allowed to marry, although the monks are not, and the title is passed to son or nephew.  The third chapel contained 11 stupas (burial chambers) to the previous abbots of the monastery.  The monastery used to be split into two parts but the north was destroyed during the cultural revolution. 

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After this visit we took an optional hike of about 30 minutes up to a nunnery above the town.  This was definitely a test given that Sakye is well above 4000m!  We went into the chapel and, far from the more formal arrangements in the monasteries that we’ve visited, this was far more relaxed. There were for nuns during in the chapel, all of whom were so friendly and eager to pose for pictures with us.  They were selling amulets, which had been blessed, for about 50p and so we all night a little some thing.  This was one of the highlights of the trip so far as they were so very welcoming and friendly and had a cheeky sense of humour. 

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We returned to the hotel and meet up again for dinner at 7.  The food was good, but wire greasy.  Early to bed again tonight as we leave at 6am for the 9 hour drive to Everest. Hope it lives up to expectations!
 

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