Friday, January 27, 2012

Asian Adventure: Day 21 and 22 Sleepover in a Monastery

Mustang Trek Day 6
Lo Manthang (3850 m) to Yara (3600 m)

With plans for a long day, we set off from Lo Manthang early in the morning. Unfortunately I had been sick through the night and it quickly became apparent that I did not have the energy necessary for any ambitious amount of hiking. Between an upset stomach, lack of sleep and stiff legs from the horse ride, I crawled along the trail at a snails pace. It did not help that for the first time in days there was no wind which meant that it was extremely hot. And of course we had to walk uphill... 

The trail gradually climbed up sandy ridges for about two hours before we reached the top of the pass at 4124 m. 

Crossing the ridge revealed a deep river valley and a series of towns set immediately below so we began the long steep descent skiing down the scree slope. We lost over 700 m of elevation in less than 30 minutes!



Upon reaching the bottom we began the long, hot slog up the rocky river bed towards Yara.

River bed

We reached Yara shortly after noon. Apparently I was not actually moving as slow as I felt but I was still absolutely exhausted. Not wanting to overexerting myself and end up sicker, we decided to abandon our plans to hike to the Luri Gompa in the afternoon and instead opted to take a nap. 

We had been warned that there was no formal tea house in Yara and that we would be staying in someones home. The "home stay" turned out to be sleeping in the dining room of a tea house under construction that had not yet bought beds for its rooms. Since we were the only guests the innkeepers offered us the choice to sleep in their "older dining" which was better described as their family gompa. Since it was quiet and dark, we opted for the old dining room. Definitely not every day you get to sleep in front of a Buddhist shrine! 

Tea house

Our monastery room

Innkeepers children

After a long nap, the hostess treated us to boiling hot showers out of a watering can. Thankfully I had mostly recovered my appetite and we enjoyed a hearty dinner of dal bhat before we retired to our monastery for the night.

Mustang Trek Day 7
Yara (3600 m) to Charang (3560 m)

Bright and early the next morning we set out towards Luri Gompa, well refreshed from a good night sleep in the gompa. Once again the trail followed the river bed - a horrible slog up the uneven rocks - but thankfully we made good time and reached the monastery within two hours.

The Luri Gompa is built high on the hillside into a cave. The outer room was arranged aournd the traditional alter covered with Buddha statues and yak butter candles. The second room was entirely filled with a giant stupa. There was just enough room to walk around it. The walls were painted with the story of Buddha and the ceiling was painted with a intricate lotus pattern.

Luri Gompa

Bridge to Luri Gompa


From Luri we followed the high trail back down to Yara passing through the tiny village of Ghara. The trail offered stunning views of the Dhampus ranges beyond before dropping into a narrow gorge.

We had lunch at the guest house in Yara before continuing down the river bed towards Charang. Unfortunately one of the bridges had been washed out and we were to lazy to walk out of our way to the other bridge so we opted to do a river crossing. The river was actually not that cold compared to home but our guide was convinced the water was - 30 C!

We continued along the river bed, passing countless false "last corners" before we finally reached a fork in the river and a sign pointing up a shear scree slope towards Charang. Thirty minutes and 500 m later, we emerged on the sunny plateau amongst the corrals of Charang.

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