As you know, we love INSPIRING TRAVEL! Part of the way we seek to do that is by bringing in other writers to share their unique experiences of the world with the world. Today, we have a guest post by the incredible Arun Bulchandani, Neel's brother and thus, my brother-in-law. He's a grand example of a spirited adventurer. Sometimes, this looks like moving to New Zealand, and sometimes it looks like buying a car on eBay when he was 15 years old (don't worry his parents were able to undo the transaction)! Arun is a man supercharged with compassion, innovative thinking, a stellar sense of humor, and an inspiring zeal for life. We hope this post inspires you to travel.
In the summer of 2013, the dream of venturing to Tibet to visit the wonder of Mount Kailash became a reality. I had been to Tibet before, but never to the infamous Kailash. After the tremendous honor of being the best man in my brother and sister-in-law's (Dawn and Neel, the founders of comuse) wedding, a friend and I took off on a long flight to the high-altitude land of Tibet. The goal in mind was to circumnavigate the great and holy mountain; and bathe my soul in the beauty of the land. The place held a deep importance to me. A hero of mine, Sadhu Sundar Singh trekked the mountain on several occasions. So, naturally I wanted to go walk in his footsteps. The base of Kailash is also the source of the Indus River and this river was the lifespring for my ancestors of the Indus Valley Civilization.This was my chance to do a pilgrimage to the source of the river that brought them life.
After arriving in Lhasa and acclimating for a day we started the expedition to Kailash. It was a 2.5 day drive in a rugged 4x4 with a hired guide. Kailash is hailed as being the world's most venerated holy place and, at the same time, the least visited. Why? You probably guessed it.
It’s the journey.
The remote location makes it difficult for the average tourist, but I guess that’s the beauty of it. Often times the reward is that much sweeter when it costs you something. And, it’ll definitely cost ya financially, as well. Yet, the return on investment is far greater - whether you simply relax in Lhasa or venture into the wild, remote areas of Tibet.
Phrases like, “Check mountain out,” and “Wow, did you see that” were constant while awake. High climbs over several mountain passes gave breathtaking views of the beautiful mountain ranges, most notably the infamous Himalayas. At times the rocky terrain would get to me, but it would fade as the beauty of the scenery overtook my visual faculties, leaving any discomfort barely noticeable. From time to time the massive 22,000 foot Kailash would show itself and excitement would set in. The trek wouldn’t be easy, but it sure as hell would be worth it.
The night before our trek we stayed at Lake Manasarovar a.k.a: "The Sea of Tranquility," which was about 20km away from Kailash at a height of over 15,000 ft. While walking the lake I felt wrapped in a deep sense of peace. The majestic blue and emerald green water of the lake changed me. Perhaps it was a mixture of things; the altitude, the sea of energy coming from the mountains, and the feeling of oneness with God that it all seemed to bring. Thankfully, I’d rest here for a night before we headed to Kailash for the adventure.
The reality of the 33-mile trek set in after arriving at Darchen, the entrance to Kailash. It was going to be a beautiful battle and I was determined to win. For the locals, it wasn’t a big deal. They lived in the elevation. However, I was born in the flat-lands of the Midwest - not in the heights of the himalayas. Thankfully, I climbed a mountain in Northern California (Mt. Shasta) prior to the trip, so I would be better prepared. It would take two days for us, instead of the recommended three day protocol. We stopped at various camps to get some type of nourishment and often times some tea. Not Yak Butter tea though. Haha. I learned I didn’t particularly like it on my first trip to Tibet. After beating the ascent, and claiming victory over the highest pass, the remaining journey felt easier and we flew through it. The mountain was full of tibetans doing their pilgrimage to show adoration for their particular faith. It was a beautiful sight to see.
With breathtaking landscapes and a rich culture, Tibet and the Tibetan people have much to offer. Whether one simply visits Lhasa or ventures out into the remote places of Tibet they will be forever changed. God's beauty shines forth from Tibet and I’m glad I was able to see it.
Did this circumnavigation make you hungry for more outdoor adventures? How about a walk in Afghanistan or soaring through the treetops of California? Perhaps, you would you like to spruce up your home with wander-loving pieces?
Thanks for journeying with us!