Introducing Dégé (Derge)
Resting in a valley with Chola Mountain to the east and the Tibetan border to the west, Dégé (Dêgê), home of the legendary Gesar, an altruistic king of Ling, is steeped in tradition and still sees little of the outside world. Things are naturally changing but it still remains time-locked for the most part. Dégé was renowned for its apothecary monks who developed traditional medicine, but now people come for its famed printing lamasery.
Getting to Dégé is a gruelling haul and it is not uncommon for buses to overturn on the icy, hairpin roads. Altitude sickness is also a very real possibility.
En route you’ll see the towering snowy peaks of Chola Mountain stretching up 6168m, and the Xinhua Glacier which comes down almost to the road at 4100m. Chola Mountain itself was first scaled in 1988 and you might begin to wonder if your bus driver is attempting the same, as the bus grumbles and inches its way uphill to the top of the peaks. At the Tro La (Chola) Pass of nearly 6000m, Tibetans on board will throw coloured prayer papers out the window and chant something that you can only hope will carry your bus to safety.