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The most popular route to reach Samye is by boat across the Yarlung Tsangpo river. The boat is not laid on especially for tourists, it is a regular ferry service used by local and travellers alike. We shared a boat with many local people and their large bundles of luggage, ducks, a dead goat in a plastic bag (with feet and head sticking up), mattresses, bags and boxes. There were some great characters on board and the one-and-a-half hour journey offered a fantastic opportunity of people watching.
The journey takes you across and up the river and although the distance it not that great, it is very time consuming as the boatman has to negotiate the strong tide and avoid the many sand banks.
Once you alight the boat the other side, transport awaits to take you to the monastery itself, a journey of some 15-20 minutes. The transport here can take the shape of local buses or open backed lorries. As tourists, we were given first choice of the various forms of transport, and (despite my best efforts to travel in a lorry) secured the more comfortable buses. The journey is very bumpy, on uneven, sandy tracks.
Updated Oct 16, 2005
Inside the main chapel, you suddenly come face to face with this tourist trap: a souvenir shop! They sell tacky yaks, jewellery, prayer beads, pictures, thankas, books and other things a tourist may – or may not – want.
Written Oct 16, 2005