Nyingchi in Tibetan means the throne of the sun. The town is in southeastern Tibet just 2,900 metres above sea level. Warm air currents from the Indian Ocean make the local climate relatively warmer and more humid than other parts of Tibet and easier to adapt to. Wild peach trees blossom splendidly in spring painting the mountains and plains a romantic pink.
The road to Nyingchi from Lhasa goes through the Mila Mountain pass at 5,013 metres above sea level. Mila Mountain is the climate demarcation point between Nyingchi and Lhasa. The mountain region has perennial snow and thin air, and visitors can enjoy the spectacular snow view at the rest area in the pass. Past Mila Mountain is the back garden of Tibet: Nyingchi. This is a world covered in white with colourful prayer flags printed with scripture fluttering in the wind. Tibetans believe that wind can spread the scriptures on the flags and every time a flag flutters with the wind the scriptures have been recited once again.
The Basong Cuo scenic reserve is in a ravine up the Ba River, and it is not to be missed when travelling to Nyingchi. Basong Cuo means green lake in Tibetan and this is one of the country’s holy lakes. It looks like a crescent moon set in the valley with crystal-clear water that shines like emerald jade under the sun. Visitors can take a raft to an island in the centre of the lake to visit the over 1,500-year-old Cuozong Temple. This is one of the famous Red Sangha Nyingmapa temples. It is quaint and mysterious and sees an endless stream of pilgrims.
Nyingchi is still chilly well into springtime but it is already a pink ocean of flowers. Travellers from Nyingchi county to Bomi peach blossom grove see the fantastic view of peach blossoms set against snow-capped mountains along the journey. Standing amid the blossoming peach trees in the grove is like being in a fairy world you never want to leave.
Lulang stone pot chicken is a must-try dish when visiting Nyingchi. The pots are made from natural smectite stone from the Medog mountains and using one to stew locally-produced palm ginseng and Tibetan chicken over low heat produces a soup that is light and nourishing, and helps relieve altitude sickness and chills.
Transport: Fly from Hong Kong to Lhasa, then join a local tour or rent a car and head straight to Nyingchi.
Itinerary: Basong Cuo, Lulang forest, Yaluzangbu canyon, Mount Namjagbarwa, Peach Blossom grove.
Climate: Mild and humid. It is colder than Hong Kong and has relatively large temperature differences in a day, so take sufficient warm clothing.
(By Kori Song, winner of the fourth Young Writers' Debut competition.)