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Wishing Well
The cost of making a trip to Nam Co Lake in
the Tibet Autonomous Region was high, not fiscally but physically. The altitude of the glamorous spot is 4,718 meters above sea level. My companions and I all suffered from altitude sickness, which had gradually drained the excitements from us before we got there.

Mani stones, usually with an ox horn on the top, meant to represent prayers, can be found all around the banks of Nam Co.

Making matters worse, a storm was coming, and the sky became brown like mud. In a matter of seconds the lake disappeared under a curtain of rain.

We were sent to Zhaxi Peninsula, one of the main tourism spots around the lake.

Various tents providing food, drinks and even accommodation dotted the entrance of the peninsula. However, all of them are temporary and only turn up from May to October every year, just before winter comes.

We took shelter in the Sisters' Sweet Teahouse. Actually, the so-called teahouse of no more than 10 square meters seemed too crowded for six of us.

Rather than ordering drinks first, we could not wait to dry our clothes by standing around a stove attached with a metal pipe to the ceiling.

The owners, two young Tibetan girls, went out and brought back more fuel - dried cow dung.

One girl broke them off, as if nipping off biscuits, then threw the pieces in the stove. After that, she rubbed her hands on the apron for few times and continued making beef-stuffing dumplings next to me, with the price of half yuan for each.

Even though I was famished, I didn't dare try a single dumpling after seeing how they were prepared. I kept drinking sweet tea instead.

It tasted like black tea. The only difference
between them is that Tibetan people add powdered milk to the tea if fresh milk is not available.

If you are not accustomed to buttered tea, the classic drink in Tibet, sweet tea is a good option to boost your energy, especially at the unbelievably cheap price of 2 yuan (15 US cents) per bottle.

We could have stayed in the teahouse the whole day, drinking and chatting, as local people normally do to kill time.

However, after noticing that the ceiling had turned much brighter, we walked out the tent and unexpectedly stepped into a new world - Nam Co Lake surrounded by endless mountains sparkles like a huge blue diamond within walking distance.

Nam Cou, which means "Lake of Heaven" in the Tibetan language, is more than two hours' drive from Lhasa, the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is a saltwater lake with the highest altitudes in the world.

With an area of 1,940 square kilometers, it tops the first of the three most famous lakes in Tibet and is also a key site of Tibetan Buddhism.

The year of the Sheep in the Tibetan calendar
is the birthday of Nam Co. When it comes, thousands of disciples walk around the lake to pray for peace and happiness. This explains why only those who were born in the year of the Sheep can pick up stones from the lake, while others are not allowed to do because it will bring bad luck.

I was a bit disappointed when we reached the lakeside, because it seemed more like a crowded beach due to the number of tourists.

Suolang Duojie, a Tibetan man who volunteered to be our guide, suggested going to the back of Zhaxi Peninsula, which also has stunning landscapes but fewer people.

 

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