Kinnaur Kailash

Trip Start Jul 02, 2007
Trip End Aug 03, 2007

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

A rat found a piece of turmeric, said he: "I will open a grocer's shop."

- proverb from Rudyard Kipling's 'Kim'.

With the trek approaching and the tooth no better, Cookie suggested a visit to a private clinic in Rekong Peo, on the way to Kalpa. Good plan.

Jenny slept well again, go me. She has somehow managed to empty the entire contents of her bag over the last day and a half, so this morning was spent packing. The lack of running water in the bathroom made it all the more interesting.

Breakfast [I've settled into a routine of aloo parantha] was good as usual, though it took a while to arrive. While we waited Cookie provided some entertainment. Francoise turned around quickly in front of him, tripping over him and causing him to stabilise her by grabbing her breasts. Unfortunately we didn't see it, but we heard the resulting surprised squawk.

The day was pretty cloudy, which was annoying since our final destination is Kalpa. The view of a mountain called Kinnaur Kailash is meant to be amazing, especially at sunset. It's one of the motivations for this entire trip; I saw a picture of it and declared that I had to go there.

I rode to Rekong Peo with the Czech pair since they are two in a jeep of their own. The tour company is the same for the both groups. They are a bit older than me, so it was a nice change, not to mention that they made the effort to talk English the whole time. On the road back we passed a sadhu's hut dug into the cliff face. He came running out and touched Lovely's forehead and handed him some nuts and sweet things. Apparently lots of people have died on this stretch so they felt it prudent to install a holy man.

We were all astounded to pass by a number of signposted laybys. "Dumping Area Number 12" being one of many. Offical dumping areas? The JayPee Group, a roadbuilding company, with fancy TV adverts about advancing technology and greatness and such like. Hmmm, not so great for the environment, huh?

The 'dentist' was a disappointment. His English was very limited [so he couldn't tell me if it would clear up ok in the next few days or not] and after a rudimentary glance at it he handed me a strip of paracetamol [which I don't need, thanks] and 8 Ampicillin tablets [which will not help me at all]. I'm not surprised there is a problem with antibiotic resistance - not only are they useless for the type of infection I have, but there wasn't enough of them for a full course. Honestly... I showed him my Metronidazole, but he didn't seem to recognise it. Great.

On the upside, the fluid in the abscess is now clear which can only be a good thing.

We continued up the winding road to Kalpa, nestled amongst huge pines and bathed in a breeze heavy with seed fluff. The hotel has a roof-top dining area with great views over to the Kinnaur range, including Mt Kailash at 6050m. The clouds had mainly lifted through the day, but they clung to the tops of the peaks. The rest of the gang walked to the 'old' part of town, but I stayed back and read. My tooth is not a major problem but the constant pain is tiring.

When they returned we all went off to the next village in the jeep. The road clung to the edge of the cliff as usual, but the drop was especially steep and high. A policy of 'no talking to Cookie' was instigated and pretty much everyone clung to their seats and made noises such as, "Ai ai ai!" at intervals. Cookie pulled over at a lookout point, a slab of rock jutting out over the abyss. He and I crawled on our bellies and peeped over the edge. Holy cow. Since the rock was tilted slightly away from the edge I felt safe enough to sit with my feet dangling. Everyone else made noises of disapproval from several metres back. Apparently young couples who love each other but aren't allowed to because the family doesn't agree jump together over the edge. Hmm.

The village itself was a typical tiny backwater, kids roaming the alleyways and everyone quick to smile at our greetings. Plus the omni-present weed.

kids Kalpa

rooftops Kalpa along

The drive back had me sat on the cliff-side of the car and I hung out the window with the camera until a fist-sized rock fell on the roof. Then Katrien squeezed my hand off.

I asked to be dropped off above the old part of Kalpa, so I could photograph the sunset. Getting down provided one of those classic moments where you ask an 'or' question ["To get down there, is it this way? Or that way?"] and the answer comes back 'yes'. I just picked a direction - left - and took it. I had to wait a while but it was worth it. Though the proper red effect wasn't on display, it was pretty dramatic. I would have really liked it to be clear. Never mind.


On the walk back I had a close encounter with a fox, which was quite exciting. A real life Himalayan fox, hee.

When I arrived back the group were sat around an empty plate of rice, so I assumed they'd eaten. I sat with the Czech's and ordered biryani and was told they couldn't do it as they didn't have the biryani colour. I suggested they make it without the colour, as I wasn't fussed and it would taste the same, right? I was given a reluctant nod. Only later [much later] when our meal arrived first, did I realise the Belgians had ordered 30 mins before us. Oops.

Sharing a room with Francoise tonight. The bed is super comfy, yey.
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