Today we went to the Potola Palace which has functionally become a museum since 1980, but for many centuries had the Dalai Lama living there and was also a central point of government in Tibet. It was a very special place and I’m glad we were able to check it out prior to hopping in the van for the day. We saw the tombs of the 5th, 7th & 8th Dalai Lama, which were encrusted in gold and had loads of precious gems as well to send him into the next life with riches.
Also, on our way in, we randomly stopped at this store on the side of the road that was making incense from scratch. They had these water powered machines which were grinding tree stumps down into a paste that they then formed into incense. The stuff sells pretty expensively the further away you get as they regularly use it at monasteries. We got bundles for basically $10, which was a “deal” allegedly
We just pulled into Shigatze which will be our final stop before we head into Basecamp tomorrow. Today was about 7hrs in the mini-van at 25mph… Apparently a bus full of tourists went off the road last year and killed 30 people. As a result, they’ve change the speed limit to 25mph. To make sure you recognize these times, they time you between each of the police check points. If you reach the checkpoint too soon, you get a fine and points on your record. Naturally, people find a loophole and speed at 70mph between checkpoints, and just stop about 5 minutes before it to have a break.
Tomorrow I think we’ll be cruising for about 10hrs, 3-4 of which will be on a dirt road into basecamp. Hopefully the snow has melted and the road isn’t too muddy as we aren’t in the typical Jeeps that most people take in.