Bistari, bistari 2.0 - A second trip to Nepal - Tsarang to Lo Manthang

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March 23rd 2013
Published: June 5th 2013
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Tsarang to Lo Manthang

The big day of the trek- the day we get to Lo Manthang! In all honesty Lo Manthang,the destination, isn't the big thing for me at all- it is the entire trek in this region. So far it has been such an incredibly different experience to the Everest region and the Annapurnas; in the culture, in the architecture, the people and the landscapes, it is very unique.

So a routine breakfast? In a way- porridge as usual but.... this porridge is standout with an NPI (Nepali Porridge Index Score) 10/10!!! Departure is just after 8 this morning via the Tserang Thupten Shedrub Dhargyeling Monastery, phew, what a mouthful. The monastery is 700-800 years old. There are normally 45 monks in residence but right now most of them are away on holidays for a month. It is very elaborate; from the rich red double doors to the intricate paintings on the walls, from the ancient relics inside glass cabinets to the chorten statues containing the ashes of previous monks, it's all so, very impressive. There is filtered light coming in through the monastery- it is illuminating the monks robes that are lined up on the benches in the most perfect way. The cost of entry is NPR 200 pp, we spend half an hour inside. We then head over to the fort, it is deserted and we can't find anyone to let us in. It's interesting in that a new structure has been built in front of the old crumbling one. There is a pack of wild dogs roaming the boundaries, they seem to congregate down at the rubbish dump, we steer clear. We leave the village through a labyrinth of small streets and alley ways, there is a water course running through the village that adds to the overall character. Like Syamboche, the back side of the town in strewn in litter.

We trek down and across the Charang Chu then upwards for about an hour to the chorten that marks the border between Tsarang (Charang) and Lo. The Belgians have beaten us there and are looking very comfortable reclining back on the stones. We take a bit of a break with them and eat some digestive biscuits with jam which was great until I felt a weird sensation in my mouth- my lower tooth bridge had broken. Interestingly, (not that interesting actually) it
The Monastery The Monastery The Monastery

Note the monk on the hill at the LHS
was last year in Chitwan that it first came slightly loose- a visit to the dentist just before I left Perth declared it'd probably be ok- alas, not so (just to complete the boring, mundane story- I am now getting a tooth implant later this year... in case you are wondering). Anyway, I was feeling a bit upset about it and IMO there's nothing better than exercise to get over a bit of stress so I charged on ahead full tilt for the next hour by myself. It was actually great getting some distance between me and any other living soul. The terrain was flat, it was really windy (I love wind) and incredibly dusty. There were caves across to the north- no signs of life, the only other things I passed were 2 horses grazing and 1 tractor. Just as I approached the hill and prayer flags at Lo La 2 trucks appeared that added to the overall dust factor. So windy and cold up at the top- as in so windy you could almost get blown off the edge. Took a few dozen more photos across the plains where Lo Manthang (Plain of Aspiration is the Tibetan translation) is now visible. It was only a half an hour walk from here into the town to the Hotel Mystique. The Hotel Mystique is the only lodge open at this time of the year and is located just outside the main city walls.

We entered in to the courtyard and got taken up to room 202, a tip- 202 is windowless and almost pitch black with a wardrobe smack bang in the middle of the room!!!!, ask for a move- we did, and then got room 204. Room 204 is like a conservatory by comparison! Really sunny, windows with a view and it smelt really, really nice. We have a late lunch (2.30) before heading out to explore. Actually our main objective was to find the coffee shop that was advertised in the LP. We had also seen a rock sign for it on the way in so were somewhat excited. Did we find it? Yep. Did we enjoy the coffee? - Nope! it was closed for the winter. No big deal. Instead we spent the time more sensibly taking in the sights. We circumnavigated the village to start with, really fascinating- ancient high walled structures. Huge walls. Cows and horses everywhere. Inside the walls we went in search of the main monastery. That was interesting- the alley ways were full of packed snow/ice and cows (and cow dung; slimy, wet, slushy, mixed with snow and ice cow dung). We finally got to the monastery, found the 2 huge dogs that guard the place, found the bell that summons the monks but no luck with the monks- according to the old guy who lives next to it we should try again tomorrow. We did find the Belgians, we did find the internet place and we did find the town centre with lots of women, kids and old people sitting in the last rays of afternoon sun. It's a very atmospheric place. It is utterly devoid of tourists. I can't imagine how it looks in the busy season- I really enjoyed this version.

On the way back to the lodge Mary gave a couple of kids some pencils and notebooks and I had a bunch of girls hair elastics to give, big mistake!!!! Within 30 seconds word got around and we were swamped with crying kids who had missed out! Lesson learnt... Back at the Mystique we treated ourselves to a bowl of hot washing water then spent the night chatting around the fire to an American couple, community nurses from a Navajo Reservation, the horse guys awaiting their Japanese clients, the Belgians- they were trying to fix a head torch by torch light that ultimately everyone had a go at without success, Dhana and Santos and the new, pre-season kitchen girls who had just arrived from Pokhara. It was a nice night. Seriously late to bed- 10pm!

Additional photos below
Photos: 36, Displayed: 26


Scenic lake?Scenic lake?
Scenic lake?

No, rubbish filled water hole on the edge of the town
Today's terrainToday's terrain
Today's terrain

Plains, hills and mountains
Boundary chortenBoundary chorten
Boundary chorten

Tsarang and Lo
Overlooking Lo ManthangOverlooking Lo Manthang
Overlooking Lo Manthang

The graffiti on these stones/chortens really irritated me

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