This post of A Personal Account for Guge and Kailash Journey wrote by Alexandra Nilsson (Denmark). She joined us for Our group tour from Lhasa to Mount Kailash and the Guge Kingdom.
“Did you feel the energy?” Tenzin Woaber asked while accompanying me to the shuttle bus taking me to the airport after a 17 day trip in Tibet. He was referring to the kora around Mount Kailash. The highlight of the trip for me that brought five fellow travelers and me from Lhasa through Shigatse, Kailash, Guge Kingdom, Everest Basecamp and back to Lhasa.
“No, not really” I answered whilst trying to find a balance between the enthusiasm and high thoughts the very first day of arriving in Lhasa with this numb feeling of not having completed the kora. A kora I, as a Buddhist, had dreamed of for many, many years. To circumvent Mount Kailash, the holiest of mountains, the center of the earth, a mythical space.
And so once again I was reminded to expect the unexpected and remain humble to circumstances. A challenge for many (Western?) people who spend most of their time planning, organizing and living up to expectations.
I am happy I made the trip (despite not completing the kora) and grateful to Tenzin and his team for making the traveling smooth and easy. Traveling in this part of Tibet is no easy task as distances are huge and provision sparse. I was happy to be on an organized tour with all practicalities, permits and checkpoints being cared for. My Tibet travel permit was waiting at the Chengdu hotel as promised and I was welcomed by the guide (Kalsang) and driver (Sonam) at Lhasa airport. After some days in Lhasa including a pleasant visit to a nomad family our trip began. The route was due West with the Guge Kingdom being the last frontier before heading back to Lhasa. On the way we visited Sera and Drepung monasteries, Shigatse, Kailash, Manasarovar lake and more – and all the way accompanied by mountains, plains, rivers that surrounded our little van speeding through. Every so often we would see grazing yaks, wild donkeys (we saw many), deer-like animals, even a very rare white wolf, vultures floating in the air, cranes and marmots living peacefully in Kailash. It was fascinating to see a landscape that has not changed in millions of years, but when we passed row house villages and towns it became quite clear that this is also a country in fast forward speed. There was not a village or town that did not have excavators ploughing up the streets or tearing down old houses making space for new and taller buildings.
As we stopped by the most cold and windy high passes or drove by rugged and snowy mountains I could not stop wondering how people can live here, how this in many ways hard and barren landscape has fostered some of the greatest spiritual capacities in history. Tibetans must indeed be made of something else than most other people. And as I passed Buddhist practitioners, many of them senior women, prostrating all around Kailash I wondered if the Buddhism I practice is the same as theirs.
So even if I did not feel the spiritual energy of Kailash as my mind and body was only preoccupied with one thing: breathing, I certainly felt the positive, joyful very welcoming energy of the Tibetans – especially personalized by Tenzin and his staff.