11. A journey into Tibet – Kailash parikrama from Zutulpuk to Darchen and back to Zhongpo

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July 2012

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On the third
day of Kailash parikrama we would be walking for 8km. The remaining 4km to
Darchen is covered by vehicles.
There was some
commotion during night. A person in our group had turned mad. The comfortless
journey, lack of clean toilets, high altitude and tough trek was too much to
handle for that elderly person. At midnight, he started shouting. He was silenced
by giving sleeping tablets. Given his condition he should never have come do
far for this trip.
Morning, I saw
him digging a hole in front of his tent. He had turned insane. An ambulance was
called in to take him to a hospital.
The weather was
bad on that day with continuous rains. But it did not matter as the trek was
easy. It just took me 1.5 hours to reach a place where vehicles would pick us
up. Horse people had some difficulty for last 1 km. A steep gorge was next to
the trail and was dangerous to sit on horses at such places.
Back in
Darchen, I made a quick call to my Home to inform that I was safe and healthy. The
long return journey started.
At 5PM, we were
at New Zhongpo. It was 10th July. Until now I had not thought much
about return journey from Kathmandu. Now that the objectives in Tibet were
achieved, it was time to think about the plan for return.
Manasa Sarovar seen at the end of the trek
Due to the
delay in permits, the Tibet plans were changed. But as I had planned my trip
long back, I had booked my return flight on 12th July. But most
people had their flight on 13th July!! No issues if the old plan was
honored. Now that the dates of Tibet journey were changed, we would reach
Nyalam Mu on 11th, cross the border on 12th and reach
Kathmandu by evening. There was no way I could reach Kathmandu before the
departure of my flight!!
Sand dunes with Brahmaputra river in the background
I had booked
the flights several months ago and had got it at damn cheap price. I have to
shell out lot of money for last minute booking. Having Amrith, head of the
travel agency helps us now. He proposes a new plan.
He and five of
us (who had return tickets on 12th) would take a separate vehicle
and start very early from Zhongpo and head directly to border. Cross the border
and reach Kathmandu by evening. Sounds cool and we were excited!! But there was
a catch. We were travelling on group visa and can only enter or exit China as a
group!! And we cannot just go on own but the Tibetan guide must accompany us. A
moment of joy turned into gloom.
Back to beautiful roads of Tibet
But solution
exists for all problems. And money does its trick sometimes. If we are breaking
from the group, we need to pay some money to Chinese immigration to exit!! It
is not a bribe but a legal procedure (Mainly to cater for people who had to
return back due to health reasons or emergency). And Amrith was able to convince
the guide to wake up early and start from Zhongpo. Having an understanding
guide helps a lot in the trip.
Next day would be long and hectic!!

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