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Upper Mustang Trek: Day 3

It will be a long day today, hence we get to start our trek sharp at 8 AM after breakfast in the hotel as planned. We have a great night sleep after a heavenly hot shower, hence the confident and moral for the morning was superb, with an exception Mandy wasn't feeling that well. Hopefully she will be fine for the long walk today. We were walking on motorize road but somehow the road was heavily damaged, I am not quite sure how the transport going to pass through somehow. We took a shortcut to climb over steep walking trail but it was a challenging one as the ground was quite sandy hence it was very slippery. Luckily the distance wasn't too long, and standing high up it let me see clearly the nasty road condition down there, with a excavator repairing the road. Although the trek by far wasn't really what I am expecting as we were walking along with motorize transport for quite some distance, but imagine that if we were to came 5 or 10 years later, the whole area might already being modernized and lose it forbidden status. At least for now, we can still felt the presence of 'forbidden' occasionally along the trek, and it was still worth it.

Waiting eagerly for our breakfast.

Departing out from Chele village.

School building in Chele.

Road condition was heavily damaged from Chele to Samar.

A look back on a very dangerous trail that we just went pass.

Mandy trying her very best to conquer this early morning hike.

According to Kumar, the trail road to Samar was closed due to safety concerns, hence the only choice was to take the motorize path, which might took us additional hours of time. We don't seem to have any other choice, hence we can only try to speed up little bit to ensure we able to reach our destination, at least before dawn approaching. Half way through the road, Mandy condition worsen hence Kumar have to stop a jeep that passing through, and negotiate with them to fetch her directly to Syangboche. To further loosen our loads, the two huge duffel bags that both Ramzee and Buddha carried were also being tag along with the jeep. Waving goodbye to Mandy, and remind her to have a good rest early there, we took a deep breathe, and continue the challenge. After really long distance and massive elevation, finally we manage to reach Taklam La which standing high at 3624 Meters, with Ghyakar village at another side of deep gorge.

We have to follow this motorize path in order to reach Samar.

The view along the trek.

Village of Chele as seen from the road high up.

Samantha chatting with both Ramzee and Buddha.

Mandy on the road steadily.

The Kali Gandaki riverbank still can be seen down there, but was very narrow here at upstream.

Still very long way to go.

The mountain with natural carving.

Herd of cow went pass us while we resting and eating apple.

Very long road that we walk through earlier.

Still not the end to the elevation yet, more climb awaiting us still.

Just a little bit, keep the feet going guys.

The team celebrate the success of reaching Taklam La and hoping that Mandy will recover soon with comfortable rest at Syangboche.

We can see village of Ghyakar on the opposite side of a deep gorge from Taklam La.

The subsequent distance was almost flat and more to descend hence we got to have a relax walk for a while. After passing through Dajori La at 3735 Meters, we can finally see village of Samar not too far away. We stopped at Himali Hotel & Lodge to have our much desired lunch and rest, as the first half of the trek today was truly a challenging one. Although just a minor stop, but the perfect match of delicious fried rice with mum's homemade sambal, the super cute baby in polar bear costume, and relaxing moment by soaking off my leg in the freezing river water, all of these encounters for sure get me well prepared for the upcoming second half of the trek, both mentally and physically. Bring it on!

The view from Dajori La.

Right turn to Samar.

Samar village as seen from the trail road not too far away.

Samantha, Ramzee, Buddha, and Kumar following up from the back.

Our lunch break at Himali Hotel & Lodge.

Lovely dining hall for a good afternoon rest.

The interior of the hotel.

Samantha taking a photo on the snow mountain range far opposite. This was the freezing river water that I comfortably soaked my legs, it felt so replenishing!

Simple fried rice that match perfectly with mum's home made sambal.

Cutest polar bear ever!

Whispering for a successful trek for the day while spinning these prayers wheel.

Beautiful peak, but I can't recognize its name.

OK, time to resume our expedition once again.

The exit from the Samar village.

After leaving Samar village, the route lead us down toward a deep gorge until the river, crossing a wooden bridge, and hiking all the way up once again to similar elevation as Samar. Immediate doubt, why there wasn't a hanging bridge built here? We then came across a junction which to the left directly toward Syangboche village through Bhene La, and to the right will lead us to Syangboche by passing through Chungsi La and opportunity to visit the incredible Chungsi Cave. Per our itinerary plan, we took the path to the right. Remember the doubt that I brought up earlier on why they did not built a hanging bridge in between the gorge earlier? Now I have the same question on my head once again as we have to pass another similar deep gorge, which mean to went all the way down once again and hiking up! Truly a toughest trail by far and once we were back to the flat ground, we were almost exhausted already but it still wasn't the end of the day yet.

Stone stupa on the way down to the deep gorge.

Forgot the name of the flower, but Kumar shown us that it can be eaten.

Reached the bottom of the gorge.

Passing the wooden bridge, and it was all the way up again.

A random view from the gorge.

To the right, to Chungsi Cave.

Here we go again, deep down to another deep gorge, ouch!

Crystal clean water flowing within the gorge.

How deep we descend, we then have to regain those elevation again.

Finally some flat ground to walk through!

Thought it will going to get flat from now onward after two deep gorges? I hope so, but in reality, after we passing through a small farm full of sheep shit, which probably quite identical to bubble mix with milk tea famous back in Malaysia, immediately there was another elevation to reach Chungsi La which was at 3810 Meters above sea level. Ramzee knew that I am exhausted hence offer the help to carry my day pack for the hike here, thanks! The trail wasn't too steep, but it was quite long in distance, and since we were already exhausted badly, hence it was a rather slow hike for us. It was a super tough climb with our condition at that time, but seriously the view at the top was super stunning! Especially the view back to Samar village, we can clearly see the two deep gorges that giving us a serious challenge earlier, and on another end, we were almost at the similar height as snow mountain range far in front of us! It was like walking on the sky.

Wait, we have to hike this mountain now? I think the answer was a big YES.

The far away view on the way up.

After some really hard time, finally we reached Chungsi La.

Check out the two deep gorges that we went through and immediately a hike to Chungsi La at 3810 Meters, this was definitely tough.

Fabian and Kumar at Chungsi La.

Kumar left a prayer flag here praying for a successful expedition for the team.

The superb view from Chungsi La.

Wait for me my teammate!

The walk on the sky.

You have to slow down to enjoy these view for sure.

Syangboche was also at around elevation high of 3800 Meters, which probably mean the rest of the trek will be flat all the way right? That was what I thought initially, but just after few hundred meters walking on the sky, the trail once again lead us all the way down into deep gorge once again! Going down was all right, but it means that no matter how, you will have to gain back the elevation at later stage, by just thinking about it, my legs feel shaky. We probably descend about another 400 meters here, and at one point of the trek, a strong wind out of nowhere hitting straight on us on a very narrow path with a high cliff just a meter away! By our natural reflection, we direct lean our self toward the ground which lower the chance of getting blew away, which if I didn't do so, probably some one like me with 80 KG ++ will also being blew away! That was how strong the wind was there on the valley.

Another descend again? Not kidding right?

A photogenic tree on the way down.

The view of the same tree from bottom.

Do you see what I saw here?

A face of a giant! Probably a protector that guarding this forbidden kingdom of Upper Mustang.

Getting so much deeper into the gorge once again.

Just think about the hike later on alone make me felt so worried.

After passing through yet another small river, we finally reach the Chungsi Cave but required minor side route and climbing some staircase before reaching it. Samantha decide to skip it and Buddha will be escorting her all the way to Syangboche from here on, while the rest of us keep the self torturing going and decide to give the cave a visit. I almost gave up during the staircase climb but Kumar insist it was a highlight of the entire trek hence I keep forcing myself to move my legs up.

Finally reached the bottom of the gorge.

Few of us decide to spend some time to explore Chungsi Cave.

One of the shelter near to the cave, probably for the Lama.

Time to explore the Chungsi Cave.

No regret at all, this one was hell of a temple build inside a cave, very colorful and quite historical as well. Chungsi Cave was a famous Buddha pilgrimage of Mustang, and was believed that Guru Rinpoche meditated here in this cave during 8th century. Unlike other caves that we were seeing along the way, Chungsi Cave was a natural sky cave. There was also a Ancient Tibetian saying that the stone inside the cave was used to make the medicine of back pain.

The entrance into the monastery.

Fabian praying at the main altar.

It was also first time visit for Ramzee here.

You can hike a little bit into the deeper side of the cave using a path just next to the main altar.

Another view again on the main altar.

Huge Mani stone in the monastery.

Countless prayer flags was hanged here.

Fabian and the Chungsi Cave.

Me with the Chungsi Cave.

Done the visit, and time to face reality again. Final elevation gain of 300 meters in 3 KM of distance wasn't a tough one from the paper, but at this point of time, it was a minor stop for me for every 5 steps that I took. The surrounding getting freezer as dawn approaching, but no matter how hard I tried, that was the best tempo I can achieve, hence I have to stick with it. Even water supply was exhausted at this point of time. After massive hard work, we finally manage to Hotel Nilgiri in Syangboche at 6 PM, just before the day turn to total darkness. Mandy and Samantha waited for our return and we gave each other a big warm hugs for a really long and tough, but memorable day! The distance covered today was nearly 20 KM, but with countless of elevation change.

We need to walk our self back to the junction down the gorge and make a left turn to continue our trek to Syangboche.

This 3 KM of distance with elevation gain of 300 meters was a nightmare to us, but we really glad we manage to complete it before the day turn to total darkness.

I remembered I just stand there and totally have no energy to move my feet, even a step!

No joke, this rather flat trail required me to stop for a break, probably for every 5 steps that I took.

Syangboche - Nepal

November 2018

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