(At Village Guesthouse, the third house on right in the village below Mt. Gongga Monastery)
Yesterday, a nightmare came true. It started raining at about 2 in the afternoon and never stopped (till now). We spent the evening huddled in the big tent, which serves as kitchen and sleeping place for horsemen. A good part of the night was spent in sponging the water puddles inside our tent using tissue, adjusting the outer layer of tent to stop the leakages. Alas, it was too late to adjust it. So another lesson learnt about camping, in a very very hard way, always keep the outer layer of tent taunt at an angle so that it doesn’t touch the inner layer. Because, if it does, then your tent will leak for sure.
My nightmares from Bedni came rushing back. Near midnight, Daniel told us that the area around our tent is getting flooded, we can shift into the big tent if we want to. I was initially hesitant to do so as I just don’t like the way these horsemen stare me. However, I wasn’t prepared to get soaked at night either. It was freaking cold as we were at the mountain top. So in drizzle, we shifted our entire stuff into the big tent. And lol behold, what did we find? The big tent was dripped as well. Plus there was no floor layer in that tent. But now all our stuff was here. And the rain was still going strong outside. So it didn’t make sense to go back. So we got into our sleeping bags, trying to adjust to the new water situation, with the horsemen staring at the two girls unabashedly. My sleeping bag was just next to the kitchen garbage so I had to face the leaking wall of the tent! The entrance door to the tent, right next to me, didn’t zip to the end, leaving last 2-3 feet open. We kept an umbrella there to shield from rain and wind. However, in an unnerving situation comprising of water on my head, grass below me, egg shells on my feet, open air to my left and four staring horsemen to my right, I was too shocked and distressed to think about sleeping. I was prepared to stay awake the entire night.
In the middle of the night, I had to pee. In the light of my head lamp, with ghostly fog all around me, I pee-ed while raindrops kept falling on my back and butt. Yes, this had to be one of the toughest nights of my life. The RAM of my mind brought back another experience of a long scary night in 2010 and I end up meditating for the rest of the night. It got me a few winks of sleep.
Finally it was morning again and I was happy we will be leaving this place soon. So when Daniel said that we will get breakfast at 9:30, I said lets just get out of here. I don’t mind not eating as long as I am not in the rain. I was already drenched completely. It was so cold that water in my bladder bag had frozen. So we quickly packed and literally ran down the hill to the monastery.
In the foggy night, one of the horses got lost. So our horsemen were still up looking for it. We had a delayed lunch with a few other travelers who happened to be in Monastery. These were three people, a guide, a porter and a girl who was going to Lhasa on foot. It would probably take it two months or more, but she had time as her college was over and she had taken two years of break to explore her country and the neighboring areas. She was very happy to see me as I am from India. She was in Rishikesh last year for three months, where she learnt yoga.
Finally, we got moving again. Walking helped get some warmth. Otherwise even in 4 layers, including a down jacket, we were shivering. It was this journey, from monastery to village below, about 6-7 kms in total, which we covered in 1.5 hours, that I learnt to hike down. Since I was already so uncomfortable today, I was able to risk my otherwise controlled downwards hike, by taking larger steps and lightly jumping on stones downhill. After a few minutes, I got used to the pattern: spot a stable stone on right, jump on it, and repeat the same for left foot and be quick. I started enjoying this game, it made downwards so easy.
This guesthouse has a toilet! That’s the first thing we noticed. Yes monastery had a kind of toilet too, which was nothing more than a hole in the floor. This one flushes water. :P Plus, we have beds with blankets. I can’t even start describing how luxurious bed feels after camping.
There has been no contact with family from last 5 days. Tomorrow, we will get the signal again. It is the last day of hike. Although, I am really excited and looking forward to talk to Nitesh and my family, I know I will miss this time spent with these people here. The no-signal-situation was necessary for people to talk to each other. It was so amazing to have a mix of Singaporeans (all of Chinese origin) and Europeans in this group. I couldn’t help thinking how India and Germany are at the two end of a spectrum, while Singapore is somewhere in the middle.