"Full many a ray of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness to the desert air."
from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kailash 2014 Day 11 : Back to Dongma/Zhongba, Saturday, Sep 14 2014

Today was an early morning for most people in the group. Many people had stayed awake most of the night, watching the happenings over and around the lake.  Raju garu had seen some lights moving on the surface of the lake. My room mates except for one who was feeling sick and low, had been sitting outside, braving the biting cold breeze for most of the night.

Anish had woken up at 3, watched over Manas Sarovar from his room, till he saw a couple of lights. Then, he stepped out to walk by the lake, and found the leader of another group that was staying at the guesthouse in Chiu Gompa. This person has visited Kailash more than 80 times and shared his experiences at Kailash with Anish, as they walked by the lake.

Tip for the yatri: The group leader whom Anish met, is the kind of person you want to plan your visit to Manas Sarovar and Kailash with. Our connection with Travelorg/Travelorg India was a major disappointment - and this is an understatement. Not only that the person who had supposedly traveled here 38 times had nothing to tell us during the entire yatra, but he was not seen by the group except at mealtimes when we had to approach him to talk while he ate. Knowledge about the Kailash/Manas Sarovar trek, customer service or courtesy are not the strengths of Travelorg/ Travelorg India.

Rashmiji had seen some lights move on the surface of the lake, and so had many others. As I had thought last night - where are you?, my question this morning was - why will you not show yourself to me?  I saw a few signs of the presence, but not as clearly and spectacularly as on my last visit. Maybe another time, another place, I will be waiting.

By the time breakfast was served, many people had morning walks by the lake, knowing that we would soon be leaving this physical form of the mind of Brahma. Just like the lake had changed colors and appearance at sunset last night, the sunrise was no less eye-catching.

Soon, the buses arrived, and we took the ride back to the government bus station complex, where we changed into our original buses.
our buses, and food supplies

the Sherpa team spotted a beautiful spot for lunch

the Sherpa team setting up tables

couldn't be a better place for lunch

Within a couple of hours, we had again reached the stretch of sands that had mesmerized us on our way in. And an hour later, just like that, in the middle of the desert, we spotted a beautiful lake, set up tables and had lunch.

The enchanting beauty of the sands felt like a designed distraction now, while a few hours behind us was the ultimate destination, the home of Shiva.

As we reached Dongma, the hotel wsa just past the checkpoint. After getting down at the hotel, some of the group went to visit a monastery close by.

There were two monks who appeared to be newbies - not really the officiating monks for the place. Outside, another photo opportunity - a good-looking local couple out for a walk.

a grandfather-grandson moment

Back to the same hotel in Dongma. The smell from the toilets was coming down the passages into the rooms. The travel agent from Travelorg/ Travelorg India was nowhere to be seen. I had to ask the Sherpas to get hold of the hotel owner to have the toilets cleaned, soap kept in the basins, have phenol tablets placed in the rest rooms. The Sherpas said one of them would do it, and sure enough, in half an hour, our quarters were livable again. The travel agent had told us that on the way back, he would get the Swamijis a room with an attached bathroom so that at least their quarters were somewhat nice, but he was nowhere around when we assigned rooms. Later, a couple of people asked the hotel owner if such a room was available, and found that the room was available and vacant. Travelorg/ Travelorg India had not asked for it - one more broken promise.

Tip for the yatri: Your yatra is going to be pretty much you doing all the work that you should be able to ask the travel agent to ensure, if you are unfortunate in your choice of travel agency like we were with Travelorg/ Travelorg India. Look for a good reference from multiple people. Select a travel agency who will have an experienced traveler and travel guide with the group.

Tomorrow, back to Nyalam, where the travel agent had said finally we would get rooms for two people each. He came by at dinner time and told Swamiji that there was a booking issue, so there would be an extra mattress in the room for a third person - we would have to accommodate an additional person in each room.

 AUM Namaha Shivaaya!


No comments:

Post a Comment