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Donnerstag, 16. Dezember 2010

Himalaya reloaded 2011 - 4th day-Thami

4th day of trek,16th of December 2010 / SOLO LONG TREK THROUGH THE HIMALAYAS
Namche Bazaar (3.440 m) – Thami (?3.750 m)
7 hours slow trek, no backpack today
acclimatisation walk
 As being sleepless was a relevant and less explicable fact during this adventure, I will probably start the daily story not talking about weather conditions, but about how many hours I slept or counted sheep last night. So, I had a remarkable victory, as I successed to have a nap for about three hours, including twice night walks to the toilett (you shouldn’t laugh about details until you don’t experience yourself their meaning in those circumstances).
The expected 76 monks started really to arrive about 7 a.m. and .... surpriseeee!!! They began to sound in their long and heavy telescopic trumpets (a sort of alphorn, called in Romanian “bucium”, but very different and made from metal. Check a very interesting web site about these tools here http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/Tibet/TibetNepal.html)
Certainly that not only my tired morning brain vuit, but the entire valley and the surrounding mountains have been invaded with those non-earthy bass sounds! It is beyond your acoustic imagination! The feeling you get, especially when it comes so unexpected and the air is suppressed of something you cannot define. I remember an almost similar feeling as I was in Tanzania and I deeply slept in Arusha. At 5 a.m. I was awakened by a very strong call to prayer, which were transmitted through giant loudspeakers of a nearby mosque. The air is suddenly shaking..... the particles turns into something like crashing your thinking and feelings. There is something in these fascinating human events I cannot describe, unless you are already used to its. The very low tones are monopolizing your entire being and all pores you have. This is all I am able to describe and suddenly I have to see how poor my vocabulary is, in any language I try (I know only three).
At 8 a.m. I was in the dinning room. I asked the owner if I can have my breakfast in the big dinning room, where the monks were and he surprisingly said yes. So I took my heart with me and I entered the big room ..... there were about 30 monks, all lined up, perched on the benches behind the tables, the space was U-shaped and behind them were the large windows. The morning sun flood the room. So it was an impressive game of lights, shadows, steaming cups of tea, faces hidden by formed shadows, gestures, hands movements and, above all ..... that collective mumbling that can soften your knees ...... The Tibetan monks don’t sing, they chant their mantas and prayers. You just have to listen to them, how it sounds. It is like mumbling, but not really mumbling.
Do you have any idea if I stayed there for my breakfast? Alone among so many monks? Or if I left the room and went to the small dinning room?

I knew it is or actually only seems to be a weird experience. I terribly wanted to make detailed pictures but I hadn’t the nerve for that. I just felt my place is not there. Not that I didn’t belong there, only that it wasn’t my place. In an usual situation I leave the issue, but then I couldn’t left, the attraction was to strong. So, I found a place at one end of the U-shaped bank's row and I took a seat, ordering my breakfast. I had a short breakfast, I stayed there no longer than 40 minutes, but no other tourist had entered the space, I was the only one. I tried to register the mumble, that vocal collective sound of the monks, as they already prayed, due to their ceremony ritual. They had a cup of tea in front of them and were mumbling in that yoga position. Some discussed to each other. Very young faces and also some older monks together. The very young monks looked to me or to my yellow hair. Some of them wore dawn jackets. It is strange to see the monks with dawn jackets, but such of things penetrated high Himalaya in the most isolated corners of the human settlements and it is strange in the same way to see porters having and using their mobile phones.
I couldn’t tell it was a holy atmosphere, it was only very unusual. As I started to feel as an intrus there, I started to feel also uncomfortable. Not rejected, just not suitable. As I have no religious believes, of course that my perceptions are different and there was a very strong religious ceremony. I was curious to see and to feel, but I didn’t feel involved in any way, at any level. It was mystical and I was conscious about the place I was: somewhere in the Himalayas, near Tibet, in the midst of a population where Dalai Lama is the supreme authority. On that early morning I stopped to be on the footsteps of Edmund Hillary, but in front of the gates of a culture and religion I didn’t know. I had sometimes have read about it, but never approached it in such a close manner.  I was there! It is like you try to make the difference between “to live” or “to survive”. I didn’t feel myself in a way, it was like I was an invisible entity in a performance hall where it was myself. I was looking to myself, there, in the room and to the things myself I was looking at. Myself I was a hidden eyewitness. (The feeling of being just the invisible eyewitness of yourself and your life segment came again along of this adventure, when I was alone in the highlands, including today.).
After about 15 minutes the people from the lodge staff began to come into the room carrying some heavy things. Each of them carried 3 pieces of some things covered in colored textile. Yellow background, orange, red, blue, green lines. Every monk had got one piece and began to unpack it from the textile cover. Softly, but decided gestures. They took the long wooden board on the top, put it in front of them on the table and began to chant the mantras written  or drawn on those long pieces of paper. I suppose it was a special paper. I suppose those books are very old and kept under special conditions.They look special. Very special.

After a while, you feel lost. If you let to be lost. Pragmatic as I am, I just thought I should leave the ceremony. Nobody invited me there and I didn’t feel completely welcomed, so I left the room. From that moment, I left everything in my mind which could have any connection to that morning.
At 9,30 a.m. I started my trek to Thami, it was the second acclimatization day over 3.500 m and I was alone this time, entire day. I met not any single tourist on my trail. The trail starts from the Namche Gompa. Yesterday was to the right, today was to the left, it leads west past a large array of prayer flags, mani stones and a chorten. 
Due to the information in Lonely Planet Guide, the carved mani stones all the way to Thami are some of the most complex and picturesque in Kumbu area. After crossing the open dusty and dry plateau the route passes through shadow forests and I stopped once on the very narrow path to take a picture of the funny ice shapes formed over last night. You reach than the settlement of Phurte and at the end of a long mani stones wall – you should take the lower left side – you see a forest nursery that was established by Hillary’s Himalayan Trust. 
High on the hill there is Lawudo Gompa, where a few westerners study and meditate under the tutelage of an English-speaking lama. A isolated place. A girl was swinging in a simple swing, a thick rope hanging from a tree branch and a piece of wood as seat and nothing seemed to bother her and her world around. Such a silence. On trails like this you usually are surprised by existential questions and it is partially your choice if you enter a sort of existential crisis or just accept that ..... we actually live in such of different and diverse realities, that the effort to debate and argue is completely useless and stupid!
On the right side it can be seen the Thamo village and down there, the river 
I try to imagine this area being flooded, under waters .....

After crossing a ridge marked by a chorten and trekking into another side valley, I entered the large village of Thamo, the headquarters of the Khumbu electricity project. The original power-house was built below Thamo, but the site was destroyed in the 1985 flood and the generating plant was moved far upstream to the village of Thami. Looking to the Bhote Kosi River along the valley it is difficult to imagine it can become such dangerous, because now it was just a normal river far away down in the large valley.
Entering Thamo, on the right side I saw some small stone builings serving as local school. One of its were a donation from Austria. As holiday time, everything was close and empty.
Entering Thamo, 11:30 (2 hours from Namche, very slow). When you enter, follow the left side of the mani wall. When you come back, also the left side of the walk direction. If you do not respect this, it's suppose to have bad luck. Local people respect this very strictly, but not all porters and guides which accompany tourists.
The locals were working to a construction, they were busy to break a rock with empty hands. One had a sledgehammer and the other held a pipe in a fixed point of a boulder. As my return, after about 4 hours, they were in the same place, doing the same hard work in the sun.
 I followed the left side along the mani wall, closing to the village on the hill in front of me. On the top of the village was a proeminent gompa, but the way to that point was still long, through the village. Very sunny, very few people, no tourists. A police man was hanging out on a stone fence and he spoke to me. I stopped, I thought he wants to see my permit, but he just wanted to change some words with somebody. The same question came also from him, if I am travelling alone. I said, others are following me later, but I stayed 5 minutes for a short chat with him. It was 11:30.
The way to Thami was long, but offered exceptional landscape!! Very nice route indeed. I climbed past Khari monastery at the top of Thamo and treked above the fields of Thomde to a few teashops at Somde (3.580 m). From the fields on my left side some men called and whistled to me, it is difficult to give an interpretation to such of behaviour, either positive nor negative one. The scenery became quite dramatic after a while and there is a good view towards Tesi Lapcha and the peak of Pharchamo (6.187 m) above it. On the trails of Himalaya, on these long and narrow path, there are from time to time places which give you a very special feeling of reaching the legendary Shangri La Land (see the movie “Lost Horizon”). Imagine a long, narrow, dusty and dry path, walking alone, no wind, no soul, the sound of the air and sun. The scene is more intense if you have a strong sound of a river, as in this case. 
Then, a very steep and relative long series of stone stairs. You cannot distinguish anything at the end of the stairs or on the top of it. You have absolutely no idea if the path is going further or you will reach the top and you will see just an abyss, a void, a nothing more. It can be a lake, a very steep descent, it can be ice or snow, sand or water. You see only the line of the last stair and the blue of the sky. Like you will step directly on the sky, you see? In this case, the additional element it was a range of snow mountains. 
But I remember about Annapurna trek: I was climbing on an endless series of stone staires for two hours through a shadow dry  forest. Narrow area for two hours, path and stairs alternating. I was tired. Then it come a new series of stairs, but much more wider format. The top of the stairs was between two large rocks, a very special rock on the right side, senzational colors and lines, white and rusty brown. Senzational. 
Coming from the shadow, at the top of those stairs the sun was very strong. I could see the last line of the stairs, but nothing further. I was thrilled of suspans and surprise as I reached the last stair and in front of me stretched an incredible generous large valley filled with an absolutely dazzling-green! I suddenly felt the need for taking a sit on the stairs for few minutes. The change of the scenery was too incredible.
 That moment remembered me about the legend of Shangri La and every time I think about it I feel an internal weight due to an emotion which I don’t know to describe and I don’t know to explain where it is coming from.
Today I felt all these again. I was curious what it will come behind the line of the last stair, but I took a break for trying different shooting of pictures at the feet of the series of stairs. It was like an extended prelude, even it sound silly. Someone who is deeply passionate about sceneries, mystical places, dramatic landscapes, mysteries and new sensations will get the idea, no doubts.

From Somde the trail traverses high along the side of the valley, then makes a sharp descent to a bridge high above the Bhote Kosi River.
Here it was a segment of the trail when I felt ..... how could I say? That mixture of fear due to a stormy water sound that somewhat paralyzes your senses, due to the fact you realize that you are alone somewhere in a fairly isolated wilderness. And one more thing, I don’t know if I manage to describe it: it is not fear, it is a strange feeling that occurs when the scene in front of your eyes is suddenly beyond your previous imagination or expectations. I mean, you go on a path or way and after a bend you land suddenly in a totally different landscape. It is too sudden, but different from what I described above in this chapter. 
 This picture I took from the other side of the river. You can see the small path coming from the right down to the bridge along those painted rocks.
  At 1 p.m. I saw the village in front of me, but I decided to return. It was a very sudden decision, I cannot explain the reason. Maybe I am still not so curageous for such of adventures in the wilderness, I cannot say.
At the point I returned I had on my left another river and you could cross it if going down to a small bridge. On the other side I could see a long narrow path and I suppose it is a path used only by local people and leading to Tibet. In Thami there is a police station that doesn’t allow trekkers to travel further – I wonder why not?! - north on the trade route between Nepal and Tibet. That trail leads to Nangpa La, the 5.740 m pass crossed by trains of yaks carrying goods between the two countries. The pass is still a major crossing point for Tibetan refugees, and is also used by both Sherpas and Tibetans for the trade of yaks, wool and Chinese goods.

I returned also on the same trail, enjoying the day. It was very warm and very sunny, as usual on highlands. I didn’t stop for lunch, I was late because stopping for pictures to often, I had an extraordinary sunset, the cold embrace seized me after the sun slowly disappeared, so I increased my speed. Cold, darkness and silence give the strong feeling that the lonely desert around you becomes deeper and deeper.  
 At 4 p.m. I reached Namche again, in the lodge was crowded, the 76 monks were everywhere and a big trekkers group checked in with their porters and guide, so I choose to have dinner somewhere else.
But before dinner, I could visit the special religious room of the lodge and I also inspected more detailed the settlement of Namche, going all around. (...)

Some pragmatic info of the day:
 Breakfast: 520 NRP, dinner: 510 NRP, 
 accommodation: 100 NRP                                READ HERE about the next day

My first adventure in Himalaya can be read on March 2009


1 Kommentar:

I'm WATCHing YOU!! :-)