In and Around Lo Montang

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Lo Montang 17 Aug

Bad planning day. We want to go up the valley to the villages of and we should have taken horses. In the event we wait for a 4x4 which takes forever to arrive. So a late start. Around the village of Gharphu there’s a couple of gompas and some caves you can climb up to. Perhaps it was just the disorganised feeling of the day but they didn’t make a great impression. I think the advice is to take horses, set off earlier, go further and see more.

18 Aug

Bev has a chest cough and goes with Kancha to see the local amchi. G and I walk around the backstreets and onto the walls for a view over the rooftops before heading back to the Champa gompa where we get to see the large Maitreya Buddha on the ground floor, the statue is so large that the plinth is in the lower floor. The walls are coveed with a huge collection of ancient Thangkha paintings, they’ve been cleaned up but not repainted. Back at the Thugchen gompa we saw goodbye to Luigi and talk with one of the Tibetan thangkha painters. His father was a Khampa warrior, one of the group that settled in Mustang and conducted raids against the Chinese army in Tibet right through the sixties, until Nixon’s rapprochment with China ended the CIA support and the Nepalese army forcibly disbanded the Khampas. Like other Tibetans we’ve met he tells us of the difficulty of getting documents from the Nepalese government that would enable him to travel.

In the afternoon we walk up the valley to the north of Lo Montang. I’ve been given a contact at Namgyal gompa but it’s closed for renovation and the only sound is of barking dogs. We drop back down from the rocky outcrop and and walk up the valley under beautiful cloud streaked skies. The paths take us through pleasant fields of barley and potatoes, the surrounding hills are topped with the outlines of ruined buildings. We see a Korean group on horseback; they’re all women except for one tall man with a professorial air who yesterday asked if I was shooting with a film camera. A girl collecting dung for fuel explains that she only collects yak and cow, there’s plenty of horse dung but it seems that the smell is too strong. We re-enter Lo Montang by the Choede gompa, as we approach, the red walls and a solitary tree are beautiful against the white background of hills.


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