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

July 2012

Previous posts:
A journey into Tibet - Kailash Manasa Sarovar
1. A journey into Tibet - At Kathmandu
2. A journey into Tibet – Mountain flight
3. A journey into Tibet - Manakamana
4. A journey into Tibet - Kathmandu to Nyalam Mu
5. A journey into Tibet - Rest day at Nyalam Mu
6. A journey into Tibet - Nyalam Mu to Zhongba
7. A journey into Tibet - Zhongba to Manasa Sarovar
8. A journey into Tibet - Manasa Sarovar, Darchen and Ashtapad
9. A journey into Tibet – Kailash parikrama from Darchen to Derapuk
10. A journey into Tibet – Kailash parikrama from Derapuk to Zutulpuk

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!!