Nepal | Mustang 2013 | 13: Marpa


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In the afternoon we walk south to a village called Marpa. The walk takes longer than expected - we missed the bus - and I’m getting rather tired and grumpy by the time we arrive at an apple farm at the far end of the village. They’re developing different strains of apples but they all seem to get mashed and sold as a pulp, apart from some they make into extremely nice apple brandy, which seems to revive me. Marpa turns out to be a delightful and totally different looking village, there are paved streets, all the walls are painted white and the wood work is dark brown. I think it’s a kind of holiday resort for Nepalis and Indians, there are good cafes and many shops selling Tibetan crafts.

Kawaguchi, the extraordinary Buddhist monk from Japan who overcame every imaginable disaster in his attempt to reach Tibet, apparently came here, the house where he stayed has a balcony around the courtyard with finely carved wood panelling. The whole village is a delight, a long climb up stone steps leads to a monastery built up the hillside with wonderful views down over the village roofs. There are old and new rooms ain the monastery, the newer images suffer from the painted colours being to strong, for my taste, but the courtyards benefit from the ubiquitous white paint. The houses are stone built with wooden interiors, the narrow lanes are a small scale labyrinth; people sit chatting on the steps of their houses and shops on the main street, children are coming home from school and the village seems extraordinarily relaxed. We leave the village by apple orchards through a small gateway stupa below a huge white painted rock face with tall prayer flags.

It’s dark when we get back to Jomson but I call in to see if the Amchi is back. He turns out to be a larger than life character keen to show us his Tibetan medical books and talk about the universities around the world wher he’s an honorary professor. We take his photo under the large thankga made by an American woman who brought it to the village. The Amchi is the central character in the thankga. At the guest house it’s meant to be our last night with the sherpas and it’s time for a drink and our farewell dinner. One of the them gets absolutely plastered and dances and sings in the style of a coquetish woman. It’s all a bit tricky and the evening is rather odd.


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