Sleeping in (one of few days!), we were on the road again and back into the great landscapes of Ali. On our way, we saw several packs of wild Tibetan donkeys. Apparently, these donkeys are the bane of nomads existence. Being a protected animal, hunting is disallowed, but when they pass by vegetation they pull the roots out and leaves nothing but patches of empty dirt! So all along the way, you see massive areas of fencing, keeping these donkeys out =P
History Note: Our destination, Mount Kailash (冈仁波齐) and Lake Manasarovar (玛旁雍错), is considered one of the holiest places for several religions including Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism and the local Tibetan Bon religion. Almost daily, people from all over the world come to circumambulate the mountain. In Buddhism, to do so once, would be to cleanse yourself of all your sins for 500 years. For devout Buddhists, they would aim to circumbabulate the mountain 13 times. Folklore says that, a young woman accidentally drowned her child in the rivers, and to cleanse herself of this sin she continued to circumbabulate the mountain, and it wasn’t until the 13th time that her sins were cleansed. NOTE! If you come here in the year of the horse and circumbabulate once, it is equivalent to doing it 13 times… Again, don’t know why but that’s what they say.
As we got close towards the mountain and all passengers in a semi-drowsy mood, our Tibetan driver slowly raised his hand towards Mount Kailash and said “Everytime I come here, I feel so calm and serenity from within.”. We took a detour and visited the saintly lake of Lake Manasarovar and the ‘ghostly’ Lake Rakshastal. These two lakes, although separated by a mere 4kms, is vastly different. The saintly lake, is a freshwater lake full of fish and vegetation and in the shape of a circle, while the ghostly lake is a SALT WATER lake, where no life forms are found. The strangest part? THEY USED TO BE CONNECTED BY A RIVER! I’m no geologist, but this is pretty freakin’ cool!
So we wandered around the lakes, taking in the amazing scenery. Any day in Tibet, when you have blue skies, you’ll have some amazing scenery you’d wish you can take with you wherever you go… The only thing is it gets really chilly once the sun sets!!
Our Tibetan driver, continuing his awesomeness, managed to bypass two ticket booths and worked some off-road magic (almost hitting the ticket salesman in the meanwhile) and saved us $800 worth of tickets! Respect. Super awesome!
Tomorrow: Cleansing our sins!