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The Journey from Inception to Action

28th aug

Had begun thinking about going on my second trip to Tibet pre-winter this year – began thinking about 6 weeks ago.

I gave the idea a hibernation break – so that it had the option of getting weak and dying out.

It didn’t.

When I picked it up again, it was just as attractive …..and had been patiently waiting through all the games my mind played.

So now I have allowed it to grow into a rough plan – with dates and with research on possible itineraries to be explored.

I have managed to keep it objective – haven’t allowed much emotional attachment to be built up yet – although yesterday I did feel some excitement building up…..

Once emotion sets in, its a one way street and there’s no turning back. I want to delay passing through that valve until another 2 weeks, while other life projects move along their own timelines towards completion.

After that, I will turn on the passion for this project and flow with all the energy it provides.

Right now I am evaluating everything logically and objectively. Ngari or Amdo. Tibet or Mustang.Now or never. and so on….

The difficulty of getting there, the date lines, the bagfuls of money, the state of mind and body….all are important considerations.


29th aug

it is true that fact finding and thinking is the only way to clarity….

hours of mental fretting later, i am clear about what i want to do. i will go to the remote far eastern tibetan plateau of amdo and spend time with the nomads there in the month of october.

the date has been set.

will apply for the extended china visa today, even tho i can get a 15 day china visa on arrival – i dont want to be constrained by the time limit of 15 days.

will then finalise the itinerary. and make flight bookings this week. apply for the special permit.

and then prepare the mind and the body for the hardship of nomadic living for a fortnight!

The excitement is now beginning to set in… am allowing it in very cautiously …..until its more certain I don’t want to get all happy – because there still is lots of time for obstacles to creep in.

the arabic word ‘inshallah’ or ‘god willing’ ( which translates to ‘destiny’ or ‘probability’ willing in my world) is foremost in my mind now


29th aug (evening)

visa application papers handed over to the agency. ticket to chengdu booked. but for a logistical question mark, the chengdu xining sector would have been booked.

bought 2 books with great detail on eastern tibet. and the map. my lonely planet tibet guide simply does not suffice for remote areas.

have begun making notes from the books. the preparation has started!

temperatures promise to be killing for the equatorial wuss. Xining – possibly at the lowest elevation in my journey will be 1 degree to 8 degrees celsius.

am making a list of places that interest me from the books. then will have to check the feasibility of a route that i make up on paper.

can’t wait to go horseback riding on the plains with the rugged khampa nomads and milk the dri of the drokpas!! cant wait to see if we encounter any  dreaded goloks!


2nd Sept

Travelling, to me, is less about ‘far and wide’ – time in the airplane / distance from point of origin do not add any value to my travel experience. Nor do the number of locations traversed matter.

Having formed / articulated this thought on what does not work for me into clear statements, has helped me to set the boundaries within which I will plan my itinerary to maximise the value I will get out of this.

The primary objective is to experience Tibetan Nomadic life. And secondary objective is to spend a little time around a few monasteries, soaking the atmosphere into my being.

So this gives me a broad itinerary already……I will try to live with 2-3 nomadic families in different parts of Amdo. And as I move between them I will also look up monasteries. Not sure if staying at a nunnery /monastery is allowed – but if it is possible, it will be done!

By tomorrow I should have the visa extension confirmed. After that, its full steam ahead in planning the details…..


Sept 3rd

The L Visa is now stamped on my passport. Ticket to Xining booked. But am too caught up in other domestic projects that are eating up my attention, leaving me with little time to build up the journey in my head and fantasize and read…

Next week I will be able to give this a little time…..but only a little – other huge events are around the corner…..this is an exciting and maddening and emotionally charged and unnerving time – in short – an absolutely wonderful time with many experiences waiting to happen…..many directions pulling my mind….

Wed, 29th Oct

Lats year around the same time, I had planned a trip to Bhutan. It fell through about 4 days before I left.

This is similar, except I have had more time for cancellations.

The news of the plague in one part of Tibet is all over the net – with health and medical advisory firms giving warnings about the risk. The medical risk certainly exists but given the distance between my destination and the infected area, I would have gone ahead anyway. But a friend reminded me of the travel bans issued by several countries that resulted in people being stranded midway through their travel – when the plague had struck a town in India a few years ago. THAT risk would be hard to take. And so I have abandoned the travel plan for now.

When I was younger, a debacle such as this one would have made me feel terrible for a few days. But now, I have seen enough real tragedies to not waste even an hour on feeling bad about something as trivial as a cancelled leisure travel plan!

Will just re-plan and use all my maps and my homework for a trip sometime in the future! And find something else to occupy my attention in the coming weeks!

‘Life – it is to be lived’ and this is part of living! kya karaa jaaye!


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