Tibet 2014 - Kailash: River Camp to Darchen

River Camp 19 September.

Our Tibetan Lama friend in Sheffield gave us some special prayer flags to bring to Kailash and we decide to tie the remaining ones together and string them across the river. Our cook gets very excited at the idea of something physical and charges across the river to secure one end with a large rock. Then it’s the last stage to the end of the kora where ladies stand by a cairn handing out sweets, then on to Darchen.  We unpack at the ‘hotel’ and take a shower in a dingy place on the main street that advertises holy water. The flimsy curtains and coming and goings indicate that showers may not be all that’s on offer. But we do get clean. Hot water, that’s a novelty.

Darchen’s a place for hanging out and trying on hats. In a cafe at the edge of town the waitresses don’t know what to do with us, they go and hide. It’s a sparse place for yak herders and pilgrims. A man by the door gestures to his table and orders tea. No words are spoken but he puts us at ease. He pulls out a bag of tsampa from inside his coat and we stir it into the tea. And then more. It’s very quiet. He’s very still, like a mountain and seems indestructable. He knew what needed to be done and the waitresses are relieved because everyting just flows on. No longer are we strange foreigners. Time has been suspended. I’m in a caravanserai in the heart of Asia and could sit here forever. He waves away our attempts to pay and when we leave a calm quietness has taken hold of us. One of those memorable tea house moments where nothing really happens and that’s just it.


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