A day-trip to Tabo Monastery

2014-10-13 at 16:34

After we hiked down from Dankar (see this blog post) we did meet a guy and his guide that did spend the night in Dankar as well. So we could wait together. The funny thing is that the owner of the guest house tells you when to get up so you can catch the bus down on the road. So we got up early and took the shortest way down. After about 45 minutes down the steep slope we did reach the road. And sure it is the morning bus from Kaza and it will be here at 8.30 – yes! And we waited 2 or so hours before the bus showed. Here it does depend on so many factors. Usually the bus will depart on time or a few minutes late. Than it is up to how many passengers will board and how much stuff they have to put on the roof. So 2 hours late is not really bad. Sometimes you might have a land slide and than the bus will never come. Happy that finally a bus showed we did board. What a coincidence – Lut from Belgium was also on the bus. So we all drove to Tabo together.

Tabo
Waiting for the bus. We did a stone throw competition and other stuff to keep us entertained.

Tabo Monastery

The monastery was founded in the year 996! That makes it the oldest Buddhist enclave in India and the Himalayas that did continuously operate. From the outside it does not look like a lot. Somehow it did remind me of some pueblos or other Mexican buildings. And after visiting the Tabo Monastery i can tell you that it is worth to come all the way here only for the monastery.
They have rare and priceless collection of thankas, statues, frescos, religious manuscripts and murals on the walls. I never saw anything like the main temple! There are about 50 clay images and bust in full size of demons and gods on the wall of the main hall. Sorry – no pictures allowed inside – so you have to google that. Since we had the other guy and the tour guide with us we could ask a lot of questions. What the tour guide did not know the monk did and the other way round. So we had a long and good tour of the different buildings. If you ever go – bring a good torch-light with you. It is quite dark in the temples. I have no clue why they build an ugly new temple next to it and do nothing to stop that old temple from going down south. There is water coming in from the roof. You can see tires and other stuff that was used to close holes. The repairs after the last earthquake where not done to good as well. The thankas fade and water ruins some of the paintings on the wall.
The monastery is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India as national historic treasure of India. I can not really see what they do for it? It should be on the UNESCO list. I would get better roofs or build a new big roof over the whole temple complex.

Tabo
996 – what a number!

Tabo
The main temple

Tabo
Our litte expedition on the way from on temple to the next

Tabo
Some caves to pray and meditate.

Tabo

Tabo

Tabo

Tabo

Menu
After the monastery we went for lunch – that is – we where looking for a place to eat and ended up somewhere at a small place. This is the last site of the menu. I never saw something like that before. In fact I did never know they even have to have these tests in India.

Tabo
Attention! Magic mushroom collectors crossing!

Tabo
The little shop at the bus stop. Everybody can find something here.

 

How to make a Cow happy Part 2

Next morning on the way to the German bakery we did pass the baby cow again. Time for more love.

How to make a baby cow happy

How to make a baby cow happy

How to make a baby cow happy

My favourite Place in Kaza – The Kunzaum Guest House

Kaza
Solar Shawer! He did install that one last year so even early in the morning we had hot water from the last day. Great! Big rooms and the guy and his family is really friendly. We got tea all the time and invitations for dinner. The night we came back from out trek we could sleep in the living room – all the other rooms where full.

Kaza

Trekking from Komic over Demul to Dankar

2014-10-04 at 15:08

After breakfast we packed our stuff and left Komic towards Demul. The walk is not really difficult since there is not a lot of up and down. We did not meet people on the way expect for a road crew. They where working on the street and happy that something happened other than working that day.

Trekking to Komic
Adios Komic!

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Landscape Landscape Landscape!

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Last time I was here the sky was blue most of the time. Now a lot of clouds – still nice to see. And it is not so hot when you walk.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
The highest point on that trek – over 4800 meters!

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Every little space that can support agriculture is used. A lot of work up here and not a lot to harvest.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Something went wrong with this little guy.

Dankar

We did reach the village and it was absolutely deserted. Everybody was out on the fields. Great – now what. We walked all over the village and almost gave up. Than we found a woman who returned to the house to get some food to bring back to the fields. Since Demul has a rotating system for the home stays she could not give us a room. She had to ask the guy that is doing the rotation and he was on the fields as well. She left us with her daughter and she did cook us a really good lunch. Later in the afternoon the boss woman of the house returned and we could stay at her place for the night.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
The daughter prepared our lunch.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Wood for the winter and food for the animals is stored on the roofs.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
In the evening all the animals have to get back to the villages. Over night they keep them next to the houses.

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Early morning in Demul

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Adios Demul!

After Demul it is down for a long time all the way to the valley. From there you go to Dankar or stop over night in Lalung. There is an old old temple there and i would recommend to stay there over night. If you still have power you can move on the same day of course.
Since we did not go to Lalung you can have a look at the pictures from last time.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
On the way down we did pass a herd of – I have no idea what it is – animals.

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Since I did walk a completely different route last time when one bridge was broken we had to ask someone for directions. We did pass a few houses and this friendly girl did offer us some tea and told us where to cross the river.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
Something went wrong with this guy as well.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
The bridge all the way down in the valley.

Than we had to walk up to the next mountain.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
Sometimes you think you are in America.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar

From Komic over Demul to Dankar

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
In the distance you can see Dankar Gompa

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
Getting closer – and closer.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
The view from Dankar towards Kaza which is somewhere in the left valley.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
A very tired doctor that was so hungry that he was not sure to survive till dinner.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
Our home stay in Dankar

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
Dankar Gompa in the morning.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar

From Komic over Demul to Dankar

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
At last the poor guy does feed the dogs.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar
Walking back down to the road.

From Komic over Demul to Dankar

Trekking from Kaza to Langza and Komic

2014-09-29 at 10:28

Time to hit the mountains! Lothy of Spiti Holiday Adventures did write us the list of guest houses and the next morning we started the trek. Four years ago I went up the mountain behind the temple to get to the first village. This time he told us to take the road round the mountain. We where on the street for a few minutes when we hitched a ride all the way to Langza. I do not really recall traffic in the mountains but it looks like everything does change here as well. So it was a lazy day of not really walking a lot.
We did check into our home stay and they did not remember me. I remembered grandma for sure. Last time when we where here it was her birthday and there was a party in the evening.

Trekking to Langza
Langza did not change too much – a few more buildings. Makes me wonder how they make the money to afford all of this. A new house and lots of children? They can not “make” more farm land. Strange!

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Grandma – still active round the house

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Lunch

Trekking in Spiti Valley
The kitchen sink – in the living room

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Grandma is in charge of the heating material construction. Animal dung rolled into convenient balls so they fit into the small oven in the living room. She forms it and dries it in the sun. Later it gets stored on the roof till they need it in the winter.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Another new house

They told us that there is a horse race from the lower part of town up to the temple. So we went to the temple. There where lots of people gathering down in the valley but no horses. After an hour or so we decided to walk back to the house again. That race never took place. Guess it would be nice to take a few pictures but that way the horses had a nice afternoon.

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Where are the horses?

Trekking in Spiti Valley
On the roof of the temple

Trekking in Spiti Valley
His car – his sister has her own car so they do not fight.

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Little sister was happy to dance in the evening sun

Off to Komic

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Who knows – I might be back one day again. Next time I will bring a few pictures from this trip and the last one to give to the owners of the home stays.

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Our home stay in Komic. I did stay here 4 years ago as well. The room with the open window was ours. Great view of the mountains!

Trekking in Spiti Valley

Trekking in Spiti Valley
View from our room

Trekking in Spiti Valley
Close to the harvest season so there was no time to collect dung for the grandmother here.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

2014-09-22 at 21:07

Good Morning Viet… err India!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

Sweet dreams – sweet dreams of something I do not remember any more but it was sweet for sure. Helena and Jathin did secure an early lift out of the valley towards Batal to catch the first bus that makes its way up from Kaza towards Manali. So it was some stuffing, puffing and movement in general and it was way to early to wake up. So I did try not and it worked not. I was sure that they would say Adios before they take off but they did not. So there was no hugging and “Have a save trip” and “See you again baby”. Instead it was another nice dream. Why not?

Since Miky and me had only a “I will help you to find a ride” from the other camp site organizer we had no idea when to get up. But somehow about 8 one gets a bit nervous as it is a long hike to the road and we wanted to make it to Kaza the same day. So I popped the head out of the tent. Miky was awake so I could go easy and pack the bag – which is not really fun. Than there was coffee or what the boss of the kitchen sold me as coffee and some food and another coffee and then good news. A couple was going to drive to Manali and they would give us a ride. Since that was the only car it was even very good news!
Turned out that they had a new Toyota and that this one was made in Thailand. Globalization me thinks. Still it was the best ride on that trip – at last the in the newest car – that is for sure!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Our heros! They had breakfast and left – thank you again!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Inside the restaurant

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
It doubles as shop – so lets take a look at the inventory with the eyes of an investor. On the left they have the light that has to burn all the time. Some laundry detergent, toilet paper, glasses, light bulbs and what not. But than – that big display full of Lays and Kurkure. PEPSI that is. Than we take a look into the drink section: COKE and more Pepsi! In the middle of nowhere with limited shelf space and after all that years he has his shop here. I imagine he knows what his customers do shop for. So that is where i would spend my money – great dividend stocks on top of that! Than he had a lot of Nestle sweets like BarOne (if you ask me the best chocolate bar you can get in India!) and KitKat at the counter. Not to forget the Maggi soups that merged with Nestle in 1947. Sorry Cadbury chocolate fans. Your choice of chocolate sucks and the stock sucks as well. Here you go: Mondelez International. We close that box right here before I get to many angry mails about my choice of chocolate or stocks.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

After some tasty food we had to find transportation. There where some locals that did wait for the bus to Kaza which is the biggest city in Spiti Valley. Also the owner of the restaurant did confirm that there was no bus so far today. Good news! Still we wanted to go right away and not wait for god knows how long. It did rain a bit on the way from Chandra Taal and the wind was cold. There is not really a lot of traffic so we had to wait a while. Than two trucks slowed down. We did ask them for a ride. Since there where two guys in each truck we had to split. No problem. This time I had less space and less music in the truck. I can handle that!

Trucking into Spity Valley

I was in the first truck since I wanted to make some pictures. And if the trucks are close the second is in a cloud of dust usually. Also you have the back of a truck in most of the pictures. At last the one you shoot straight out of the front window. So Miky did climb the second cabin. Lucky me – I just did not know now. My truck was bigger but had more power or it was a better driver? Anyhow we moved a bit faster. I would say we made an average of 18 km/h while the other truck did 17 km/h. Yes again – that is a bit faster than 10 miles per hour.
Which is not fast at all. Still better than standing in the cold wind or waiting in the restaurant for a bus that might not come at all.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Nice view without a truck in front!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
More nice view

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
At one time my truck did stop and the guys where walking from house to house to ask for whatever. Since they did not speak English I could not really communicate with them and had no clue what was going on. After about 45 minutes Miky finally arrived. His truck had a flat and they had to change the tire. And it was raining of course when they had to do that so he was not really a happy cat. My truck did not go nowhere that day – we found out because the guys in his truck did speak a bit of English. They where nice and I could squeeze in to the truck as well. Off we went for the last few hours before Kaza was in sight.

Our Truck
Reaching Kaza after all that slow trucking was so nice – took me a while to recognize from where we came in since last time when I drove in with the bus we came from the other direction. We did stop a bit after the “highest petrol pump in the world” at the temple. So it was only a short walk down to the guest house. The friendly owner did recognize me and was so happy to see me. And I was so happy to get a room at the place. He has a new solar shower so we did try that one before we walked for over the new bridge into town for dinner.

How to make a baby cow happy

First you should find a baby cow – than you can try. I was lucky – on the way to the centre of Kaza was usually a baby cow standing around and it was pretty bored.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Than you have to go over there – not to fast – and talk to her – slow and not to loud – in English. Guess it does not really matter but some languages sound quite harsh and I only speak English and German. Than I try first to get close from the front. Somehow it works well when you let them sniff at your hands. Next try to go sideways and stroke the neck.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Hmmm baby cow relaxes

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Happy baby cow – it did work again!

Lets go for a shave than…

Lets go for a shave than
Since I was on vacation I did treat myself and visited the local barber shop

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
80 Rp Sir! Local price! Sure – guess I did pay double at last. Anyhow – if you ever have the chance to get a shave in India. Go for it. Watch where most of the locals go – that is your place!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
I had a few shaves all over the world so far – the ones in India where the best. I was never cut – which is the most important thing for me ;-)

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Looks good. I did not give a tip since the boss was getting the money but I did send them 2 tea from over the street. Guess they did like that as well.

A day trip to Kibber and Key Gompa

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
After making baby cows happy and having a shave and lots of cheese cake and really good coffee from the “German Bakery” like the one you see in this picture it was time to take Miky to the local sights. After breakfast we walked out of the town towards Kibber which is a small village up at 4270 meters in the mountains. I was never there so I had no clue what to expect.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
We stopped the first tractor and they where happy to take us till they had to drive down to the river to fill their trailer.
Than we walked a bit till the second tractor stopped. Very happy with the short wait for our second ride we climbed on the tractor. There was a girl from Kibber on it that did speak English so when the tractor stopped after a few minutes she told us that the guy did something wrong and had to drive back. So we walked with her for about 15 minutes. We passed a few locals that rested at the side of the road. They invited us to sit for a while so we took a short rest as well.

Take a rest with the locals
They waited for the bus that should pass here “soon”. Everybody is waiting for something in India all the time. But waiting for these buses in the mountains is really boring after a while. And it can be hours or minutes – one never knows.

Take a rest with the locals
After 10 minutes and some small talk we decided to move again. And what was just crawling round the corner after 1 minute of walk? A truck going all the way up to Kibber! We stopped it and they where happy to take us up the mountain. The truck was full of small stones they like to use for road building. So it was heavy and the ride was smooth – compared to the bumpy ride in the tractors.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Some random house we passed.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Somewhere along the way a few minutes before Kibber I took that picture of a village on the other side

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
A few houses in Kibber. We where not really impressed with what we saw so we went to the first place on the right for a lemon soda and a salad. A friendly couple from the Dutchland was taking a drink there as well. It turned out that they rented a car and wanted to go Comic or somewhere. Since we are some kind of lazy day trippers I asked them for a lift and they did drive us all the way to Key Gompa. Now what to say – they did go there in the morning so they drove 10 kilometres more just to drop us there and had to drive all the way back to the other junction again. Thank you!!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
A tourist that was looking for the beach in front of Key Gompa.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
A friendly monk did give us a big tour of the gompa and he showed us even the old sleeping room of the Dalai Lama. The new one is in the making since the Dalai Lama wants to visit next year again when he is in the valley to open a new monastery. 4 years ago another monk did show me the gompa – but not this room. But than again another room that this one did not show us this year. Very interesting don’t you think? Hmmm maybe not!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

Key Gompa in Spiti Valley
Key Gompa in Spiti Valley – looks quite impressive from this site. It is 4166 meter above sea level so if you come by foot and have to climb up all the stairs you better be fit!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
On the way back to Kaza we did meet the guys that gave us a lift up to Kibber again on the road. Too bad they did drive the wrong way – up the hill and not down to Kaza.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
We had to walk quite a bit since there was next to none traffic and the few little cars that passed did not take us as they where full. A French tourist that had a drink in the same café in Kibber did pass us in a big taxi jeep that he rented. Do you think he did stop? Nope! Merde!

The Journey Into Spiti Valley

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Finally another tractor – and we where back in the race. I had a good ride all the way till about 2 clicks outside of Kaza.

The Journey Into Spiti Valley
Since our tractor went up the hill we had to switch to the blue tractor that you can see here behind our first one. It has a roof and if you are not super small you can not sit straight. Really uncomfortable – almost makes you want to stop the tractor and walk the rest of the way. He drove us all the way next to the gas station where we said “Thank You!” and walked back to our guest house.

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