|1. First view of Lake Manasarovar|
|2. Photographing the lake.|
The holy site have attracted Indians from across the border for at least 1700 years. A Hindi poet Kalidasa wrote the waters of Lake Manasarovar are "like pearls". Drink of them erases sins of a hundred lifetimes. But the waters are foul and filled with parasites. No one fishes the Lake. There is said to be only one kind of fish, one with teeth, that when it dies, it flips onto the shores and then people collect the fish, dry them, then make a broth to be given to pregnant women or animals to make birthing babies easier.
We spent the night in a water front guest house. There has been a boom in guest houses of the primitive style - there is still no way to ignore you have to walk outside in the night to the open aired "corral" to take care of business. There is no electricity and the rooms are cold. If you want to bathe, pour hot water into a plastic bowl and have at it. Well, the window in mine room at least had a view of the lake. That's something, I guess.
|3. Jim, me and Carlos at the lake|
We had a warm meal in the eating room where a group of Russian and a group of Italian tourists led by a climber name Carlos were also preparing for the Kora. So far I'm the only American I've run in to but who knows what we'll meet along the holy roads as we pray our prayer beads pleading with God to get us through the pass (18,180 ft) and keep us healthy. I have the luxury of a pony to ride when times get tough on the steep ascent part. We may finish the Kora in 3 days or 4 days depending - on me, I guess. I'm slow. We will not have any electronics but one satellite phone - and I'll be anxious to get back to a place where I can continue the blogs. We've even resorted to recharging the MacBook Air in the car (special plug) while I write away on the long hauls.
|4. Guest house in Darchen|
In the stillness of the night, when the dogs stop barking, I worry about my family and friends and rev up serious prayer that life keeps moving on and upward for them. There's a desperateness about losing contact with each loved one. You don't realize how much they participate in your courage, confidence and peace until you are out in the world alone. When all is severed from that source you grasp for memory and prayer and always feel that no matter where you are rather than being an insider looking out, you are an outsider looking in, and everyone looks at you as an outsider and gives their poor English a try out - cheap, cheap, very cheap. Good.
|5. Kids are kids|
Then there is the loss of information. Do you realize I have no idea what is going on in anywhere in the world? Not even here? I'm a news freak and need my 60 Minutes fix. I guess if I understood Chinese I'd have a chance to learn something at some hotels. CNN and BBC are long gone from these distant places. We went to have breakfast in a little coffee shop yesterday morning before we left Saga (a rather bustling truck stop kind of city) and the proprietor had the TV on - An NBA playoff game. Whoopee. I saw about five minutes before we headed to the grocery to get supplies.
|6. Mt. Kailash from Darchen|
Here in Darchen where we launch our Kora the streets and storefronts are full of merchandise related to trekking and to hanging prayer flags. But curious are the pool tables in front of the shops where men leisurely play pool most of the day here in distant western TIbet. Pray for strength and understanding.
|7. Pool tables on the streets of Darchen.|