sexta-feira, 15 de janeiro de 2010

Lhasa / Kathmandu - 6th Day

Shigatse (3840m) - Younongla Pass (4500m)
Distance - 130km

At the end of my 5th day of cycling I got really body finally gave up to exhaustion...I could only spend energy with simple and practical things. Fortunately there was a luxurious suite waiting for me in one of the best Hotels in town.

I was in Shigatse, one of the biggest towns in the south of Tibet. The name means “The fertile Land”. Is situated in a plain at the confluence of the Yarlong Tsangpo and Nyangchu Rivers where Tibet's most fertile land is to be found. Is a ancient holy city and the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, one of the spiritual leaders in Tibet.

After a very nice lunch, taken in a nepali restaurant, me and Da Wa went to see one of the most important monasteries in Tibet. In fact is one of the most important and holy places for the Tibetan Buddhism. Thousands of pilgrims come every year from everywhere to participate in the festival (Buddha Unveiling Festival). I was told that this festival was about to happened. It would start in a few days after my passage trough Shigatse…

I got really sad because I was not in the best shape to enjoy and to appreciate the wonderful architecture and the soul of this sacred place. But I had to put away these feelings and try to get the best of the moment. So I struggled in a very slow motion to the huge complex of the Ta Shi Lhun Po Monastery that is surrounded by big walls built at the bottom of a small and rocky hill that stands above Shigatse.

This majestic Monastery was founded by the First Dailai Lama, in 1447. Has a magnificent architectural style with a golden roof and resplendent buildings. Is one of the Six Big Monasteries of Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat Sect). Dozens of monasteries belonging to different sects enhance the atmosphere of this place.

Inside the Maitreya Chapel (the main one) stands the biggest statue of a sitting Maitreya Buddha. With his 26 meters high is decorated with gold, copper, pearl, amber, coral, diamond and other precious stones. Inside it’s also possible to see several stupa-tombs and one of them belongs to the tenth Panchen Lama. Was built in 1993 and is the most splendid and costly mausoleum in China, since the 1950s. I got astonished by the beauty of the place. In the end the extraordinary effort really worth it! :-)

Shigatse was the place where my entrance to the Qomolongma (Everest) National Park was paid and I had no more than two days of riding to reach the Qomolongma Base Camp. The purpose of my bike trip wasn't about visiting Everest, however the opportunity to be so close to this mountain and to be in the same valley where the first expeditions set their base camps, in the early 20's, had put me in a excited and anxious state.

Despite the size of Shigatse no more than 3km were ridden to get again that feeling of being lost in the wide landscapes of Tibet and far away from civilization. :-)

This was one of the hardest day of the entire journey...During the day I made the decision to make the distance that was planned for the next two days. The purpose of this madness was save time and stay longer in the Everest Base Camp.

The first landscape after Shigatse

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