Outside of Lhasa, one catches a glimpse of a Tibet that has changed only slowly over the centuries. Farmers still plow their fields behind lumbering yaks and dried yak dung is the major source of heat. Flocks of sheep are still tended as they've been for centuries.
The landscape has a stark and desolate beauty. Certainly, it seems that coaxing a living from these barren and rocky hills is not for everyone (and, indeed, many younger people have left to move to the cities in search of a less rigorous life). But for the traveler, these bleak landscapes hold the exotic charm of being on the roof of the world.
Our travels took us to the outlying cities of Gyantse and Shigatse, mainly to see religious sites near those areas. Along the way, we stayed in the Gyantse Hotel – one of the stranger hotels I've ever lodged in – and visited an outdoor market in Shigatse.
For a look at the religious sites we visited, go to: Tashilhunpo & Kumbum.