Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
Mustang was, until recently, a Himalaya Kingdom forbidden to the foreigners. During the night they close the gates of its walled capital, the beautiful Lo Mustang, where there is a royal Palace. The King of Mustang hates the westerners.
I was enjoying the popular trekking of the Annapurnas when, arriving to Kagbeni, I saw a caravan of gurungs with their yaks carrying rice, with whom I made friendship. They told me that they were heading to the walled city of Mustang. I borrowed a Tibetan cap to one of the gurungs and camouflaged myself into the group passing the control without being noticed. The soldiers at the border where drinking chang, playing to a kind of billiard with wooden buttons and did not pay much attention to the caravan. We crossed the Kali Gandaki gorge, powerful rivers, and in the first village, which in my diary I wrote as Chusang, I decided to continue alone. The third day, after climbing a pass I turned my head to the front and: Oh my God, what emotion! That was really unbelievable! Never in my life I will I forget what I felt upon that vision. Lo Mustang appeared as if my magic in the horizon. It looked a lovely walled city surrounded by the Himalaya Mountains. I continued my trekking and after two more hours I traversed the main gate and entered the medieval city, but continued my way to the border with Tibet through the villages of Nipu, Guru and Nechung. After crossing the Kore Pass through the border number 23, I noticed in the distance a Chinese military base, but I surround it to avoid it because I had no Chinese visa. After a few more hours I saw some houses. I had arrived to Legse, in Tibet. It was already dark. I was so tired, feeling pain in my hips, that I knocked at the first house that I saw, asked for water in Chinese: “Tsuei ching, gewo Tsuei” (Water please, give me water), and fall down to the floor. There was a family. The husband, afraid of my presence, disappeared to come back half an hour later with two Chinese soldiers with rifles. I was sleeping. They lighted me with their lanterns and after a short interrogatory allowed me to spend the night with the family, but next day they sent me back to Mustang through the border number 23.
Near Lo Mustang I saw holes in the mountains and was told that there lived monks until their death, in meditation, Every day a small novice took some food for them thorough a hole in the hole where they were enclosed, and when after three days the same food was there, is was an unequivocal sign that the monk had died. Then they sealed the hole and opened a new one for another candidate to follow that way of life (or death). The vision of those holes was horrible and provoked in me a reaction of rebelliousness.
After being expelled from Mustang, I returned on foot to Kagbeni and could finish my trekking around the Annapurnas through the Thorung Pass. I was robbed by the Tibetans part of the 20 kilos of Chinese canned food and delicious biscuits that the Chinese army gave me. In the caravanserai of Lo Mustang I paid twice more than the locals for the momos, for the tea, for the tsampa, for the bed, etc. But anyway it was peanuts. I did not complain. I was conscious of the cheating but I did not argue and observed from their behaviour in order to learn more about the human nature.
The first night I slept in a kind of caravanserai in Samar, where they gave me food, momos, cheese of yak and tsang, a very dense tea, like soup, that they prepare in a kind of quiver called domo. The next day I crossed Guili and Gami, and in the second night I found a Buddhist Tibetan monastery, near the beautiful Charan, where I made friendship with the young monks of the Gelugpa sect when I gave them a picture of the XIV Dalai Lama.
Chortens were a kind of mark for the travellers which helped me. They show the way to the gonpas, or monasteries.
Once back in Kagbeni I walked until Muktinath and visited its famous temple, and the enxt day I continued my trekking around the Annapurnas.
Date posted: September 2013
Have you been to Cave architecture of Muktinath Valley of Mustang? Share your experiences!