30-Apr-2006 -- 31N – 91 E: Naqui (那曲) Prefecture, Tibet
Line Hunting Date: April 30, 2006
A dedicated trip for line hunting for change
Upon completing of our work in Tibet, it was near the start of the week long May 1st holiday. Instead of retuning to Beijing straight away, we arranged a jeep through a travel agent to enjoy the scenery near Lhasa for a couple days. A large salt lake bordering Lhasa and Naqui called Namtso was our secondary objective, and the primary objective was this confluence point about 15 km from the eastern lake shore.
The mystery of the Cairn
Three week after our visit to this Conference point, another party – Ayers and Schroeder – also made a visit, but they were able to file the hunting report without much delay. The 2nd hunting party was puzzled by the small cairn at the all-zeros point, which of course was our doing. In short, the little mystery now solved.
Getting there was a good part of the fun
The travel service arranged a Toyota Land Cruiser for our 2 days trip. This turn out was the right vehicle for the job. About 4.5 km before the confluence point, we ran across a rather rough patch with deep mud and water right next to a village. Our somewhat timid driver was reluctant to push onward until we offered to take over the driving. This was a stretch that a lesser car will not able to make it. Before we reached this stretch we stopped at another village for lunch. At one of the home style little restaurant we had the best yak noodle soup and unlimited yak butter tea. The overall drive from the shore of Namtso to the confluence point was an exercise of figuring out which track to follow on a desert plateau. As we got higher up, the view of the Namtso lake was spectacular. There were three more much smaller lakes alone the way, including one right near the Confluence point.
The easy hunt
Once we passed the stretch of rough and flooded part of the road, the drive to the confluence point was easy. Once we reached about 700 meters from the confluence point, we send the car to the nearby village and walked the final stretch. After a few photos we piled a few stone to make a cairn and walked toward the village about 800 meters northeast of the confluence point.
The hospitality of the No-name village – the best part of the hunting trip
This 6-household village was already alerted of our arrival because our car and driver went there first. Before we reached the first compound, the welcome party consisting of all 12 residents who were home came to greet us. One of the young ladies speaks Chinese so we can communicate well. Right away, the lady whose home is closest to the confluence point invited us for tea. We had a couple cups of yak butter tea and some very tasty fried bread at her home. Of course we had to visit other homes also. More yak butter tea, and more bread. This little village is by far the most friendly community we ever encountered in all the hunting trip we have done so far. We learned that the village actually located in Naqui prefecture, so we no longer in Lhasa area anymore. There is no official name for this village but it belongs to the Nie Ma Township of Naqui. As far as the villagers could tell they do not recall ever having visitors from outside other than from nearby villages. We made arrangement to send photos to the Township mayor. -
The wonder of the heavenly lake
Located at 4,700 meters above sea level, Namtso is either the highest or 2nd largest salt lake in China and the highest salt lake in the world. The Tibetan name means Heavenly lake. It is also one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. After achieved our primary objective – the confluence point, and filled large quantity of yak butter tea, we went to the eastern end of the lake. At this part of the lake, there was a strange phenomena - large piles of ice blocks on the lake shore, the result of surface ice pushed by the wind and crumbled on shore.
From the eastern shore we drove 40 km to an area called Bird Island on the south shore and found a place for overnight. Before sunset, we hiked up the bluff to the end of the bird island which offered fantastic views. During the night, the stars seem brighter and bigger than anywhere else. Perhaps the thinner and clear air plus almost 5 km closer to the sky made a big difference. Our secondary objective – an overnight visit to the Namtso lake tuned out to be as much fun as our primary objective.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge: 1 – a drive-up with the right car (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
Scenery: 4– Namtso lake and surrounding area is truly a special high-altitude environment (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
Culture-social factors: 5- Isolated Tibetan village nearby with wonderful hospitality (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)