Tibet: amazing people, amazing place

13 07 2010

Ecogirl is current on a field trip to Tibet. Her research project is focusing on these remote, apparently pristine lakes. Here’s an excerpt from her travels.

“….We went to YumDrok — over 4,400 m. We had to go up the Gampala Pass, which is just amazing very loooooooooong switchback road in fantastic shape (built only 8 years ago) – we climbed nearly 1000 m. There were prayer flags at the summit fluttering in the wind.

We had to ask around about fish and stopped to ask a Tibetan construction crew, and found a village by YumDrok. Even the Tibetans who catch the fish aren’t too worried about the species — they just catch them for the Chinese restaurant with a Chinese chef they run for the tourists. Pickings were slim — I ended up getting only 13 fish (4 species) but I am not complaining. It’ll do. At the lake’s high altitude, I was fine for about 3 hours, but then my fingertips started to tingle, swell and turn purple really fast — but luckily we were ready to go back by then and I only had to wait for about 200 m downwards before my fingers were back to normal. I think it was a really good thing I spent a day in Lhasa first.

This morning before we left, I did more research online and found a posting by a Chinese reporter (in English) about a village near Lhasa that is unusual in that Tibetans actively catch, sell and eat fish, so I forwarded that to the travel agency. They checked and sure enough, the village does exist. They called the guide to update him. After we got what we could at YumDrok, we headed straight there after a stop at a genuine Tibetan-run restaurant full of Tibetans for lunch. It actually reminded me of some of the popular Ugandan restaurants.

The fishing village was a funny place — a lot of money invested there. The guide and driver couldn’t explain as it was their first time there. There weren’t many fish for sale by the time we arrived, so we discussed with the fishermen whether we could come back tomorrow and if they could set aside key species for me. Anyway, somehow the conversation / negotiation with the fishermen took an unexpected bend just like the Gampala switchback road — I don’t know how! It seems that the guide and I are going to take a ride with two of their best fishermen in a raft/boat down the Lhasa tomorrow morning!

They liked how I asked questions about their nets and techniques, so perhaps that was how it started — plus I wanted many species of fish, not just the market fish. They do know their species well, and really enjoyed going through my Xizang fish book. Everyone was talking in rapidfire Tibetan, mixed in with Chinese & and English so it was a bit crazy. Anyway, that offer surprised me so I checked Lhasa river conditions out — it can be fast, but there are places where you can very easily float to the shore if you stay calm. I also checked out the boat — it is very stable with a near-square base, perfect for hauling lots of heavy fish onboard. Well-made with stretched and waterproofed thick and tough leather (probably oxskin) as well! With 3.5 hours on the water, the biggest risk will be the sun, and the guide already advised me to bring an umbrella — which I always do! 🙂

That’s all for now, I have to enter the data from this morning’s fish!….”

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29 05 2014
Kory Haggert

In June/July 2013 we travelled from Beijing to Shanghai to Zhangjiajie to Changsha to Luoyang to Xian to Xinning to Lhasa to Yangbajing back to Lhasa to Shigatse to Mt Everest to Kathmandu to Pokhara to Bandipur to Chitwan to Bhaktipur to London England and home to Calgary. It was trip of lifetime. I would like to see more of your pictures of Tibet

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