Mount Kailash – Day 3
Oooh, I’m sore! I slept so deeply last night, it’s amazing anyone could wake me up this morning. Who knew you could sleep so well in an adobe refrigerator? Actually, after the winds, the snow, and the extreme cold yesterday, this simple monastery felt like a luxury resort.
Our last day on the kora was an easy one. Losang had already walked down to Darchen and Dimitri and Irina had left ahead of us, so Thomas and I were on our own most of the day. We followed a long glacial valley for several hours taking in the beautiful mountain scenery and braid-like river below the trail. Our porter, who didn’t speak any English or Chinese, had found an old pilgrim to walk with; we could see them both further down the winding path.
Since we were not in a rush, we sat down on some boulders and watched the river below. We explored mani walls, Tibetan rock carvings, stupas, and such along the way. The sun was shining and the walk was a breeze, nothing could have been more of a contrast to crossing Drolma-La Pass.
After several lazy hours, we walked out of the valley with magnificent views of the holy lake Manasarovar in the distance and the soaring mountain Gurla Mandhata rising up behind. We passed through a small, stone Tibetan village, which appeared to be completed deserted at midday. In the distance, large herds of yaks were moving across the plains below us. It was definitely a National Geographic’s moment.
As we moved out of the village, we could see yet another mani wall in the distance with a body lying in front of it. (It reminded me of the exhausted Tibetans at the pass.) As we approached, we could see the body was our porter and that he did not appear to be moving at all. Lying awkwardly on the dusty ground, his neck appeared to be twisted around pinned in against the lower portion of the wall. Terrified that he had dropped over dead, we hurried over towards him. There was absolutely no movement – our fear mounted. Suddenly, at the last moment, his head popped up staring cluelessly at us, his goofy smile breaking the tension. He pulled himself up , and we walked back to Darchen together, very relieved that we hadn’t killed him. (Seriously, the backpack didn’t contain that much.)
Back in Darchen, Thomas, Irina, Dimitri, and I celebrated our success over Sichuanese food at a hole-in-the-wall in the center of town. After 3 days of instant noodles, it felt like pure luxury!