The magnificent Quxu Bridge oer the Yarlung Zangbo River is an important gateway from Lhasa to the Shannan area as it links east and west Tibet. On the sixth day we reached Gamba La Mountain after crossing Quxu Bridge and form here we headed west. We were at an elevation of 5,000 meters.
Our cars climbed slowly up the rolling mountains on a winding road with a deep valley on one side and steep cliffs on the other. At a place 4,100 meters above sea level we spotted two cyclists in front of us. Our driver seemed to read our minds and stopped the car. We all got out and introduced ourselves before having a picture taken with them. They were from Wales, one named Leion, aged 28, and his companion, Dylan. They told us that they were keen cyclists and interested in traveling long distances on their bikes. On their present journey they had brought all the necessary items from home for making the cross-country trip from Lhasa to Gyangze and the next stage to Xigaze and Zham where they would then leave Tibet for Nepal's Katmandu. They were very excited to meet us, and didn't show any visible signs of fatigue caused by high altitudes. Dylan said that this was their first visit to Tibet, but it would be by no means the last. Even though our meeting was brief it was difficult to bid farewell to our new friends. Within a few minutes they were left steadily peddling up the road, far behind our car. We could just make out their strong bodies in blue jackets struggling against the wind like hawks flying in the blue sky. This made us wonder about connecting so closely with nature, and those who are brave enough to challenge nature and themselves. Compared with them we seemed like cowards, traveling in an air-conditioned car and wrapped in fur coats.
At noon, we approached the Gamba La mountain pass. As soon as we crossed pass, we found an expanse of blue water, a pure blue band meandering within the Loess Mountains. We had arrived at Yamzhog Yum Lake, one of the three sacred lakes in Tibet. The water is quite startling, so changeable in the sunshine that it moves form deep blue, light blue and sky blue, to a purple blue and sapphire blue. We felt so refreshed here, agreeing that nobody could say they knew anything about lakes unless they had seen Yamzhog Yum Lake. Indeed nobody can be fond of the color blue in any other place after returning form Yamzhog Yum.
While having a picnic by the lake, we spotted a flock of sheep grazing nearby. One of the herdsmen picked up a lamb and allowed us to take photos. There didn't seem to be any discernible difference between the white of the lamb's fleece, the white of the clouds in the sky and the snow on the mountains in the distance.
Yamzhog Yum means lake on the grasslands in Tibetan. The lake covers 600 square kilometers and it is said that it takes the monks more than ten days to go around the lake. It is impossible to express the full beauty of the lake in writing but everything from tasting the crystal water to witnessing such spectacular scenery was a complete joy.
The blockhouse on top of Zongshan
Mountain where the Tibetan heroes
fought against the British invasion.
We finally reached the vast stretch of the Gyangze Plain after passing over the rolling mountains in the Nangarze area. Here there is fertile land, a huge expanse of grassland dotted with trees. In the fields local farmers were busying cultivating the land. Boys were playing after school, with some swimming in steams to cool themselves. They raised their hands and waved to us as our cars went slowly by. Some were a little shy and ran away when we tried to take photos.
Gyangze City is the home of Tibetan carpets. The city is also noted for Beiqoi Temple and Baiqoi Pagoda. The nine-story pagoda has 108 doors and 78 halls for Buddhist worship, as well as shrines and scriptures. The pagoda is also named Pagoda King or 100,000-Buddha Pagoda due to the fact that it has as many as 100,000 Buddha statues.
The city is also well known for the Zongshan site where Tibetans fought against the British invasion in 1904. They were defeated because of their poor weapons and Gynagze City was occupied by the invaders. All of them jumped into the deep valley beneath the battery where they had fought for several days, hence the name, "Hero City". The heroes are gone, but the battery and the blockhouse stand bravely on top of Zongshan Mountain. Standing before the blockhouse, we recalled how the Tibetan martyrs fought to the bitter end and we seemed to hear the cries of the armored horses and the sounds of the heroes clashing swords in the piercing wind.