September 21, 2008:
Ghami (3,520 m) to
Lo Manthang (3,800 m)
After a pretty good night's sleep I got up before 6 am and packed my stuff. Went outside and enjoyed the
views from the rooftop. Went down to the kitchen and had breakfast, a tasty potato omelet. We were
supposed to leave at 7 am, but Suzi dragged her feet a little this morning and we left at about 7:30 am.
We went through the streets of
Ghami and then down to the
river and crossed the
steelbridge. I went ahead of the
others. Up to the Mani Wall
which is the longest Mani Wall in
Mustang. Legend has it that
contains the intestines of
demons killed by Guru
Rinpoche, the Padmasambhava.
I kept going ahead and up through
great scenery to the Chingel La pass
which is at 3,870 m. I was up there at
about 8:45 am, so pretty fast. Spend
some time there enjoying the views of
Nilgiri, Tilicho Peak. Suzi, Yam and the
boys came soon as well and we
slowly descended towards Tsarang.
There were lots of sheep herds in the
vicinity of the pass and along the way
down towards Tsarang.
The way down from the pass to Tsarang pretty much followed the roadbed, a sign of things to come in
the next few years. At one time Yam, our experienced mountain guide, was not quite sure which way to go
and wanted us to follow the road further which curved away from our route and would have been quite a
detour. I was happy that Gyan was with us as he told Yam that he was wrong.
We got to Tsarang at around 10:45 am. After taking
some pictures at the big Chorten outside of Tsarang, we
walked through the walled streets to the Maya Lodge.
We left our packs here, ordered lunch and then went to
explore the gompa.
The gompa is called Tserang Thupten Shedrup Dhargyeling Monastery. It had some nice wall paintings
inside it and a few statues of deities. The Monastery is 775 years old. Several of the monks showed us
around and explained things to us.
The monks then took us to another monastery. It used to house nuns and was in desperate need of
repair. We walked down some steps and found ourselves in a hall with beautiful wall paintings inside.
Many of them, however, were in bad shape. There was a hole in the roof exposing this room to the
elements. It is sad that places like that receive no funding at all to preserve their cultural monuments.
We went back to the lodge and had lunch. After lunch, we started our walk to Lo Manthang at about 1 pm.
First, we had to cross the river behind Tsarang. A steep hike down and a steep hike back up and we were
on the other side. I was going by myself. I felt in good shape and wanted to see how fast I could go. The
trail was easy to find because it was just following the road. A steady uphill walk. After while, I passed
another huge chorten in the middle of nowhere. I wondered why these chortens were standing in the
middle of nowhere and got my answer about this a few days later. Apparantly these chortens mark the
boundaries between the villages.
Further up, there were many caves in the rock walls. They used to be inhabitated long time ago. The last
part of the trail I was very deserty and I walked on hard packed sand. Around 4 pm, I got to the pass, the
Lo La at 3,950 m, from where I had my first glimpse of Lo Manthang, the capital of the Land of Lo.
I waited at the top of the pass for almost
25 minutes for Suzi and Yam. We then
descended towards Lo Manthang
together. We were looking for a place to
stay. At the first lodge, we talked to the
owner who first told us he room, then
he did not and then he had a room
again. Anyway, we left and went next
door to the Mystique Himalaya Lodge
where I got a huge room with western
style toilet and shower without problem.
Suzi and Yam then went to find the Amchi, the Tibetan
Doctor. Suzi was hoping to be able to stay with him.
Gyan, Darbir and I went to one of the two restaurants
across street. Gyan and I had a couple of bottles of
Lhasa Beer. Lhasa Beer was cheap up here as Tibet
was close. Yam and Suzi came back soon. Suzi was
happy that the Amchi invited her to stay with him in his
house for the next 10 days. So she picked up her stuff
which she left in my room and left. Yam, Gyan, Darbir
and I then had dinner at the restaurant. Went back to my
lodge around 9 pm, went to bed and slept pretty good!
Nilgiri
Darbir, Suzi and I
on top of Chingel La
Tserang Thupten Shedru Dhargyeling Monastery (left) and big Entrance Chorten to Tsarang (right)