06.10.2009 - 06.10.2009
Yamdrok Lake is one of Tibet's four holy lakes. It is a huge high mountain lake that winds its way through countless valleys and canyons. Tibetan's say it looks like a scorpion from the air, I think it does too.
It is a salt water lake, but the salinity is lower than the ocean, and low enough to allow it to be used for drinking. I tasted it, and it really wasn't that salty. I'm no salinity monitor, but I didn't really taste any salt. I remember tasting the Great Salt Lake on a pre-school field trip when I was 4, and decided I should taste this lake too.
We stopped in the valley and walked to the receding shoreline, and stopped again just before we crossed the pass into the next valley. The water was so clear and beautiful, the sky so blue, and the distant snowcapped mountains were gorgeous. Tibet is such a beautiful place.
There were many Tibetans on the mountain pass selling tourist goods and photos with Tibetan animals. It was fun to see a group of them sitting right there on the road, surrounded by empty beer bottles, hot water thermoses, and their motorcycles. They were playing some sort of game on the asphalt. Such a free, but arduous, life.
I paid 10 RMB to sit on a yak. It seemed smaller than other yaks I had seen. This yak was decked out in the traditional Tibetan yak garb. Even when plowing fields, the cows in Tibet have earrings and horn ornaments. It makes agriculture seem more festive and exciting. It made me think about how nice it is to put beauty and craftsmanship into everyday activities.
I finally got a close view of the yak's nose piercing. All of the water buffalo I see around Guangxi province are also pierced this way. The Chinese name for the yak is directly translated as "hairy cow." You can see why this is its name, with those long flowing hairs all around it like a skirt. Yaks are a type of cow that only thrive in very high altitudes, where they need a warm skirt.