Trek to: Hilsa & cross the Nepalese border into Tibet
Internal Transfer: Landcruiser to Purang (aka Taklakot)
Visa required: Yes if British plus an Aliens' Travel Permit
Currency:Chinese Renminbi (RMB)
Time Zone:+8hrs GMT
Day 5, 25/06/10 - Mt Kailash, Tibet
This morning's journey took us from Darchen to Tarboche at the foot of the Lha Chu Valley & the start of the Kailash Kora (or parikrama). It would seem that by absolute chance we had timed the crossing of the Drolma La pass to coincide with the Tibetan Full moon. A particularly auspicious time to be carrying out the Kailash pilgrimage.
Tarboche is adorned with hundreds, if not thousands of colourful prayer flags, from the flat plateau we were suddenly stood at what looked like a gateway into another world. The landscape had dramatically changed from dusty, barren plains to a red high sided valley. As we began our journey up the Lha Chu valley the scenery once again transformed & now everything seemed shrouded under a veil of shadow.
The route now felt besieged by vertical walls of a deep black rock, here I was again thrust back into my quest, taken back to Atreyu as he stood at the gateway of the Sphinx guarded valley...the words echoing, "in the beginning it is always dark...the Sphinxes eyes stay closed, until someone who does not feel their own worth tries to pass..." The chilling, darkness of Lha Chu Valley was an opportunity for me to reflect, to feel the chill of life within both the physical & psychological shadows.
As we walked the Valley we were awarded fleeting glimpses of the Western face of Mt Kailash, portrayed in mythology as ruby it is said that this face encourages one to follow bliss. It stimulates within a basic instinct of/for survival & strengthens both the physical and emotional heart. I have to say that the experience of walking here amongst pilgrims was deeply moving. I felt honoured to bare witness as each soul endured physical/emotional hardship & pain in order to achieve blessing.
Curiously our path was accompanied by two yaks, one black and one white, one the darkness and the other light. Our camp for tonight was at nearly 5,000m and just as we began pitching a wet blizzard blew in, visibility disappeared & the temperature plummeted...and I mean it really plummeted. I jumped into my tent to get out of the elements and soon found myself & my tent caught in a stampede of rather boisterous stray yaks!
To my surprise and admittedly, disappointment, tonight's camp spot was littered with rubbish. Just like in the UK I find it hard to comprehend the logic of some people - they escape into the wilderness or countryside to appreciate the views/landscape and then choose to litter it, how does that work?! I'm also not used to having so many people around, hmm I'm definitely starting to appreciate my preference for the more remote, peaceful locations.
We are pitched directly under the North Face & it is told that this face, made from gold can prevent spiritual corrosion. It does so by strengthening ones realm of complete understanding, clearing away any negative energy & helping to stabilise the emotions. Hmm, the negative energy I'm currently working on is that the blizzard has destroyed the Indian pilgrims toilet tent, which means on entering my toilet tent (something to which I've become fondly attached) I was horrified to find it had been used and abused by the masses, hence the negative energy.
Now I'm all for sharing but please people...hygiene standards!? The hole was no longer a hole but instead some sort of stalagmite; there was used toilet paper everywhere bar the assigned bag and the smell... well in all fairness, I'm not sure if this was a negative or a positive. The smell hit me like a wave of intense heat, enveloped me like a tsunami & realistically how often do you get a heat-wave at this height...a hidden blessing!?
I also keep getting whiffs of a death smell about this place. We've passed a few rocks which have flesh and blood traces scattered & right now I'm trying to convince myself that those are not the remains of a sky burial, though if I'm honest my efforts aren't really working.
The view this evening was divine, the North face of Kailash rose up like a geological dome, its sides harsh and severe yet its summit beautifully curved. As it would seem I'm a novelty out here, people keep asking if they can have their photo's taken with me beneath Kailash - hmm kind of cool I've never really seen myself as a souvenir before?!