Louie’s Tibetan Travels:
The Beauty of the Less Traveled Road
Louie Yi, President of Lotus Travel recently took a lengthy journey through Sichuan and Tibetan plateau and included many interesting stops along the way, including visiting Mt. Everest. As an avid photographer, this is something that he has highly anticipated doing for some time. Through this experience he reiterates some of his life philosophy. To experience and appreciate life’s richness most often requires effort and sacrifice. By reading his account, you will see how he set aside comfort and convenience in order to experience amazingly beautiful scenery along his travels.
The editor of this newsletter sat down and interviewed him about the experience. Sprinkled throughout this article are a few samples of his photography. (The photo above shows unusual red moss that exists on rocks during his lengthy car ride to Tibet.) To view a full sample of his selected photographs and notes visit the gallery on the Lotus website at www.lotustours.net.
I just returned from a driving trip to Tibet. A group of us, mostly young people half my age, were traveling together. We left from Chengdu in 4-wheel drive vehicles and drove for seven days to reach Tibet. We traveled along what is known as the Sichuan Tibetan plateau. This part of the journey had the
most beautiful scenery and the most horrible ride. Rocks would sometimes block the road and it was so bumpy you felt like the vehicle has turned you around 360 degrees. We drove for 8-10 hours per day like this. One can never take this journey without the 4 wheel drive. Since we were driving into a mountain range, the road is like a circle going around the mountain. The elevation is around 12,000 feet and if a person has health problems, it is not a recommended trip. If you ever get carsick on a regular ride, I do
not recommend that you take this trip route. When I looked out the window as the scenery would go by, I didn’t know if our car would fall into the river or the valley below. In fact, as we traveled along, I looked over and saw one car lying down in the river, which had apparently fallen from the road. This type of trip is not for the casual tourist, anyone with health challenges, or anyone under 16 years of age. The hotels or guest houses are very, very basic – with very poor bathrooms. It takes about 7 days of driving like this along the Sichuan Tibetan plateau to reach Lhasa. However the beauty of this difficult path is impossible to describe. I would say it is the most beautiful place on earth that I have seen. I would love to return in the springtime to see the beauty of spring flowers and landscapes at that time– it is breathtaking!
After the difficult week of driving, we arrived in Lhasa, we spent about 3 days there, visiting the Potala Palace, visiting the free market and in general seeing the sights in that area. One day while there, we awoke at 2:30 a.m. to travel in order to have the best view of Mt. Everest peak, but it was so foggy that day we could not see it very well. We also stopped and visited Yang Lake, which is the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. I could have spent one week just around Lake Yang – it is almost unlike any other lake I have seen. Some of the young people in our group had difficulty breathing and walking. I walk a lot each day and work out at the gym, so I did not have difficulty, even with my 20 lbs. of camera equipment. Many of the younger people were so surprised; but one really has to be physically prepared for this trip.
In leaving Lhasa, we drove 3 days to Xining, the capital of Qinghai province. This return road followed along the railroad there and the highway was smooth but the views were nothing like the beautiful scenery along the Sichuan Tibetan difficult path. That is often how life is, isn’t it? The important things in life can be difficult and tedious at times and require perseverance.
One can visit Tibet now via a railroad that has been completed. It takes tourists from Xining to Lhasa, Tibet, where the Potala Palace is and the most visited location there. One can also fly directly into Lhasa now, but that has a drawback of changing altitude so quickly that it can be too difficult to adjust to the elevation and one may get ill, or likely have to rest a great deal before doing any activities.
I highly recommend people who are interested take their trip to Tibet before things change too much. With the recent building of the train that comes into Tibet and an airport option now, modern life is getting closer and more prevalent. The beauty along the rugged path is by far the most breathtaking I have experienced. I hope each of you that are interested in this area, can go and see it before it changes too much – regardless of the path you might take.
Question: What trip route would you recommend to someone who would like to see several beautiful parts of China in one trip?
Louie: I recommend to travel to Jiuzhaigou Park, Tibet, Xinging, and Yunnan province. By visiting these 4 areas you will see so much of the natural, unspoiled beauty of China in one itinerary.