September 20, 2008:
Syangboche (3,800 m) to Ghami (3,520 m)
and crossing the Nya La (4,010 m)
I hated that day, or at least the first part of it!! Woke up to continuous rain. Windy and rainy and all grey in
grey, depressing. We had breakfast downstairs again in the kitchen. I ate pancake and fried potatoes. We
decided to wait a while before leaving, but the rain would not let up. I would have been perfectly contempt
to stay in the lodge all day, but my travel companions wanted to go on. So we left at about 9 am. It was still
windy and raining. We went up the pass and then down towards Gheling. At times, we were ankle deep in
the mud and slipping and sliding down the trails. At one time where there was a cliff, there was a rockfall
and a small rock narrowly missed Yam. We arrived in Gheling in a little over an hour.
In Gheling, we wanted to visit the gompa. While Suzi and I were waiting at the entrance to the gompa, Yam
was looking for the keyman. Suzi and I discovered that almost everything in our day packs was wet,
although I even had a trash bag over mine to protect it. Luckily, the cameras were dry inside the camera
bags. After a few minutes, Yam returned with the keyman.
Went into the gompa which belongs to the Sakya part of Buddhism. Some nice paintings but overall
quite disappointing. We left Gheling and continued to climb up this valley in the rain. We could make out
the Nya La which is 4,010 m high and which we had to cross. It was a long slog as we were totally
waterlogged. Going up the pass we could for the first time see the roadbed which had already been
carved out. Only dirt right now, but going all the way from the Tibetan border via Lo Manthang to Gheling.
It finally stopped raining and after crossing the Nya La we headed down to Ghami, a lovely village.
We went to the guesthouse, the Royal Mustang Guesthouse, and decided to stay here overnight. We were
all wet and did not want to go furthyer to Tsarang. We could make it all the way to Lo Manthang the next
day anyway. We got a couple of rooms, again, opening out to the rooftop. From up here there were
gorgeous views. We changed clothes and as it had stopped raining now, hung up our wet stuff to dry.
We went down to the kitchen for lunch. I had fried rice with veggies which was very good. Suzi and the
boys had Dhal Bhat. The Didi looked familiar. So I asked her whether she was related to the Didi of the
Red House Logde in Kagbeni and she said that that was her sister. After lunch, the Didi took me to the
temple inside the house. Here she had numerous Tibetan artifacts for sale, including several old
thangkas. And as I am a sucker for thangkas, I bought one. She said it is 90 years old and was blessed by
her grandfather whose name was Lama Samda, apparantly a well known Amchi (Tibetan doctor) in his
time. Also the wallpaintings in the temple were done by her grandfather and they were beautiful. She is
slowly selling off the thangkas to tourists. I am pretty sure that the thangka I bought and the ones she
showed me were authentic. She also explained to Suzi and me how the thangkas were made. I did not
quite get it, but it had to with yak leather and tsampa and hung out to dry for about a year. Something like
that. Anyway, the thangka smells quite bad now that it is hanging in our house.
We went back to the
rooftop and enjoyed
the views. The clouds
were lifting more and
more and revealed the
mountains
surrounding Ghami.
Ghami also has a
gompa, but as the
keyman was out in the
fields we could not
visit it until about 6
pm. We went inside
but just like the one in
Gheling, it was not
very impressive. We
walked through
Ghami for a while until
it was dark.
We had dinner in the kitchen/dining room. It was a huge room where the kitchen was in one corner and all
around the walls of the rest of the room there were benches and tables. About 15 more people were in the
dining room waiting for dinner, all locals. They were fed sherpastew by the Didi. The head of the house
was sitting next to me in the corner. He was apparantly a Kampa, a Tibetan warrior who must have settled
in Mustang after their fight with the Chinese ended in the seventies. He was clearly in charge, he got food
first and whenever he said something, everybody listened. Went to bed around 8:30 pm, listened to my
i-pod for a while before falling asleep.
View of Gheling
on way back