A place only in our dreams, until now.
Entering the forbidden kingdom of Mustang
Shrouded in mysteries this forbidden kingdom finally lay before our feet.
A high plateau with Tibetan traditions, culture and people, a little piece of Tibet outside a Tibet, consumed by the chinese.
Sometimes when you dream and long for a place your mind makes up a place so high up on clouds that when you see it with your own eyes you become disappointed.
Luckily this was not the case with Mustang.
The first taste of Upper Mustang, the valleys of long lost water which violently ripped them open while traveling through. Leaving us with these beautifully shaped landscapes that follows us everywhere.
The mountains here and in many parts of the upper mustang looks like the shapes of a church organ. Inaccessible caves looming high above, no way of reaching the entrance.
The mud floor in the traditional houses are made new every day with a bit of water and a broom, left to dry and you have a floor as good as new.
The natural recycling of things, the philosophy of living and dying, rebirth. They had all this going until plastic was introduced.
Unfortunately this is a reminder in each village where the local garbage mostly is thrown in the river but, washed up not far away.
In Samar the poplar trees still hold on to their yellow color, the people here are already different from the Gurung down below, we have entered the land of the Lobas, from here we never go below 3500m.
It’s from Samar and on where the up and down trekking gets its good name from.
We go down to the river, cross the river, climb another ridge descends to another river, climb another ridge, climb climb steeply up up up to the flag clad pass only to descend down to the closed river valley below. Amazing views and canyons keeps us going before we reach the Chungsi cave and its stalactite chorten.
In the beginning it’s hard to make out the natural chortens due to prayer flags and other ritual debris left to rotten and decompose in the circle of life.
The caretaker shows us around and shows us the massive rodent he killed during the night an act of real Buddhism we guess.
Wintertime in Mustang, we meet a lot of people and Monks on their way down to Kathmandu, Pokhara and India for the winter. They will come back after Losar (Tibetan new year). The only ones left are the poor, old and the ones unable to travel.
Soon after we reach Syangmochen, three guesthouses and a maniwall.
Syangmochen La opens up and gives us another breathtaking view of the high plateau, there is no way to get enough of this ever changing landscape……..Here you can see as far as the next pass, the villages folding open like a book.
Finally the Lo La and the first glimpse of the walled city of Lo Mantang, the scattered ruins on mountain tops reminding us of a fairytale, but also of the hierarchy of the Region.
Lo Mantang is like a living museum. The narrow lanes and the whitewashed houses, the palace and the views from the rooftops, Lo Mantang is a gem. Everybody in the street seems to be having a souvenir shop. The tourists are few and you are high prey on the streets.
A monk of Chode Monastery, Lo Mantang Charms, keeping bad spirits away
The key holders to the Monasteries of Lo Mantang are not people who are up early in the morning, you spend more time locating them than inside the actual monasteries.
Choosar Luri Gompa, and our guides.
Fossil in the riverbed at Surkhang Yara
Leaving the cave and looking around at all the caves surrounding you get the feeling that the world still got some mysteries left…..
A long day of walking and several fights (maybe due to the shortage of air to the brain in high altitudes?) later we reach the place where the bridge is no more. With the shoes off we balance our way over the strongly moving river the cold water reaching to our knees, we make it to the other side and after another climb we reach Tsarang after a 10 hour walk.
The days without guide makes us realize the importance of simplicity, we enjoy being able to communicate for the necessities in a mix of few essential words laughs and smiles.
Waking up to a snowstorm, a man offers us to walk with him to the next village after breakfast.
10 roxy (local ricewine) later and we decide it might be better to leave him there and continue alone……
The show is over, we leave our dream that became reality behind us, but the memories are still with us.