I’ve already told you, in quite some detail, about how scenic Tibetan roads are. But there’s a road in particular – China National Highway 565 (the Zanda Connecting Road) – that deserves a post all of its own: this post!
Here’s what it looks like on the map:
It comes off the main Lhasa-to-the-west highway, and leads to the ruins of the ancient, mysterious Guge (pronounced Goo-gey) kingdom.
Brief interlude! Apologies for repetitive usage of adjectives like fantastic, magical, monumental, awesome, etc., etc.
That out the way, back at it…
The views along this road are simply fantastic, magical, monumental, awesome, etc., etc.! See for yourself ->
As I’ve paraphrased many times before, why bother with words when you’ve got a zillion photos! And please note – here: NO Photoshop. Those colors of the rocks are the actual, real colors!
Ah – a sign: good. Looking forward to read all about these OMG rock formations and their crazy colors…
Great. All in Chinese with a sprinkling of Tibetan. One place name in English: ‘National Geopark of China’!
Ah – no: there are a few more anglo-words ).
Zanda Earth Forest – an out-of-this-world place, and you might think not of-this-world too, since no one knows anything about it (and there’s hardly anything on it on the net). Even our guides didn’t seem to notice it or know anything about it – we came across it by chance on our way to Guge…
Meanwhile, DZ gets Bad Boy out. Here’s the result:
Oh my geology! ->
Here’s Bad Boy really being put to the test ->
But… who’s that?
Midori Kuma, of course – with his twin sister!
Back into our ride and onward, or, quite often – side-to-side! ->
Views from up top:
And from below:
It seems that, out here – God is given a helping hand of late, after doing perfectly fine on his own for millions of years ). The helping hand comes from… the Chinese government, which clearly invests quite a bit into the development of Tibet. And it comes in the form of bulldozers and workers leveling out this, straightening that, strengthening something else…
…And the results are most impressive. Like! ->
So yes, as you can see – remarkable roads, wonderful views. But it was time we were getting – finally – to our destination for the day: the icing on the cake, or, as we say in Russia – the cherry on the cake!… Here comes – Guge!…
The icing on the cake on our whole Tibetan trip was a brief visit to Guge, which was an ancient kingdom in Western Tibet. Heard of it? Must say, neither had I. And it turns out it’s really quite a substantial, worthy place: must-see. It was the icing on the cake but the other way round: it’s the cake under the icing – or the cake under the cherry!
History tells us precious little about what was here and what went on. Our guides gave us one version: it was nothing but a kind, socially-oriented community. Then came along very bad attacking hoards who started to tyrannize (read: murder and rape) the population. The king of the mountain kingdom gave himself up to the invaders to be imprisoned in exchange for a promise that the killing would stop, but the intruders broke their promise, executed the king, and everyone had it real bad.
Only ruins remain:
There it is – the fortress atop the mountain: the ruins of Guge kingdom.
There’s plenty to see here; in fact – it’s totally awesome here!…
It’s literally a settlement cut into a mountain: steps, paths, corridors, tunnels, rows of buildings in different directions.
Apparently, according to the internet, there’s a labyrinth of tunnels inside the mountain; however, tourists are shown by far not all of it, for some unknown reason. Still, just what we were shown was most impressive:
Next up, time for us to slowly (we were still at a very high altitude – some 4000 meters above sea level) climb to the top of this kingdom – up steps like these:
If you take your time, attentive to the surrounding scenery, the walk is a wholly pleasant one.
Ancient walls, caves, labyrinths…
To be honest, I’m not sure what else I should say about this place. It’s simply magical, but copy-pasting from the internet doesn’t seem right. The links given above however take you to plenty to see and read about the place.
We finally make it up to the top!…
Up at the top (was it euphoria kicking in again?:), the mood was very positive. Those four up there wanted to form a word with their bodies and limbs – à la Help – but they couldn’t come up with one. ‘Help’ would have been most inappropriate. No help was needed!…
And assorted other views from up top:
As per, DZ whipped out his bad boy long-focus lens and got in a few masterpieces. Here are some highlights thereof (check out the first pic: it’s snowing!):
And that’s your lot for today folks. And that was us coming to the end of our Tibetan adventure too. It was time to head back home…
All the pics from Tibet are here.