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China: Draksum-Tso

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Draksum-Tso | China | Asia

[Visited: April 2007]

While planning my visit to Tibet, a visit to Draksum-Tso, also known as Bagsum-tso or Basum Tso, was high on the list of destinations I wanted to visit. I was therefore happy to find an agency in Lhasa that had a trip planned, and after having travelled alone, I was for once looking forward to doing an excursion with other travelers. When I opened the door of the minibus, I found it full of Chinese tourists, and a bad premonition crept in. I resisted the urge to opt out, and stayed. Just before leaving, we were joined by one other non-Chinese traveler. After driving over the Mila pass (over 5,000m), which offered us great views over the surrounding area, we continued on a long drive to Draksum-tso.

Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Draksum-tso with yak on the beach at Draksum-tso

When we finally arrived, the driver told us that we had ... 40 minutes. What I thought was our final destination and the place we would stay overnight, was apparently just a stopover on our way to somewhere else, and even worse, somewhere we had to rush through. I did not take the time to be disappointed and tried to see this beautiful place as well as I could. The 6,000m+ mountains around were reflected in the jade colours of the lake, and especially close to the small island on which the 14th century monastery is located, the water was totally calm. The serenity of the place and the sheer beauty of the nature surrounding the lake seemed totally contradictory to the haste with which we were supposed to "visit" the monastery. To make things worse, within a few minutes several busloads of Chinese tourists arrived and stormed the small island of Tsozong monastery.

Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Tsozong monastery: afternoon light coming through the windows

They proceeded with little respect for the sacred place, turning the large prayer wheel and ringing the bell as if they were toys, and burging into the monastery proper where a monk was trying to quieten them down. It was difficult to enjoy the scenery and the monastery, especially when I thought of the future of this kind of places under increasingly easy reach of Chinese tourists. While on the minibus towards the east, I was determined to escape the tour, and in fact did so that same evening. Instead of being on the minibus for the entire day to have 30 minutes in a forest, the other western traveler and I took the public bus back to Lhasa.

Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Tsozong monastery in clear Draksum-tso
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): View over Draksum-tso from the monastery island
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Tsozong monastery on Tashi island in Draksum-tso
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Building and blossoming tree of Tsozong monastery in Lake Draksum
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Prayer wheel of Tsozong monastery on Tashi island in Draksum-tso
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Wall painting of Tsozong monastery in Draksum-tso
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Swimming horse as a part of wall painting of Tsozong monastery
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Pair of fish: a symbol of the eyes of Buddha, happiness and being saved from earthly life and suffering
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Colourful detail of wall painting in Tsozong monastery
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Symbolical conch shell on curtain hiding the door to Tsozong monastery
Picture of Draksum-Tso (China): Walking on the floating bridge towards Tashi island on Draksum Tso

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