Thailand and Images of Tibet

As seems to be the norm when I am in the region of a globally recognised disaster I have seen nothing of it, a situation for which I am eternally grateful to the overseer of world disasters and pray that it may long continue to be this so. I understand that one third of Thailand is flooded and yet here I sit in the centre of Bangkok looking up at a blue sky and enjoying the cooler than usual air. Yesterday, following a visit to the barber*, I strolled down to the Chao Prayha River. By golly the water is high, but due to a network of canals and irrigation my little corner of Bangkok is dry.

Although Samsen has been lucky enough to avoid any flooding 7Eleven has had no large bottles of water for days and the girl at the café where I took breakfast this morning tells me she bought the last two bottles of milk yesterday. Supplies are struggling to get through.

So my initial plan of checking out a route from Thailand’s Issan Province into and through southern Lao to Cambodia and onto the temples of Siem Riep (Angkor Wat) and back into Thailand across a remote and newly opened border has been postponed until either the weather subsides or Mike sends me a kayak.

For now then I shall head south to Phuket to check out some details of my Thailand Winter Escape tour. Places are filling up and there are some details I wish to be sure of.

For now I shall leave you with a few more images of my recent ride through Tibet.

*Those who recall the story of my Bangkok barber may be interested in an update. The elder of the three has now slowed to a pace best timed with a calendar  as he circles his hapless victim. The instability of age has caught up with his eroding granite like velocity and several times as he makes his way from the right side of his customer’s head to the left he slumps forward with a disturbing jolt. He was administering a shave when I was there, still is I suspect, and I watched with morbid fascination as he saved himself from tumbling by grappling at the mans head whilst still maintaining a tight grip on the cut-throat razor. The other two barbers have seen none of this yet as by the time the noise of the fall has been interpreted by their senses to something worthy of observation and they have turned to see what is happening the old fellow is back on his feet and continuing his circumnavigation of the beard as though nothing has happened. I cannot help but wondering if in days gone by Vincent Van Gough ever visited a barber in Bangkok, it could explain a lot.

our campsite near Everest

the summit of every pass is heralded by colourful prayer flags that flutter taking Tibetan Buddhist mantras to the heavens

the most common mantra in Tibet is 'om mani padme hum' which translates as 'hail to the jewel in the lotus'. The jewel being the Buddha, the lotus being the Buddha's favourite flower, a flower that begins its life in the muddy dark depths of a lake and slowly works and climbs through the gradually clearing murk and mire on its journey through to the clear water near the surface and then, finally as it blooms into a beautiful open flower, it burst through to the clarity of day. The Buddha likened this to the journey from the deep ignorance of birth through the difficult path to enlightenment. I think it would not be unfair to say that many Tibetans are slightly obsessed with this mantra carving it in stones that they pile into walls, cutting it into the sides of mountains in letters ten metres high and as seen here carving in into the horns of dead bovine and ovine.

Everest as seen from Rongbuk Monastery

along the line between the brown foreground and the snow peaks beyond lays the 5050 metre Thang La Pass. From here it is a 4000 vertical metre decent over two days to our Nepali resort and my first beer in three weeks.

an early morning view, the frost still sitting on the ground as we climb our final Tibetan pass of the journey.

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2 thoughts on “Thailand and Images of Tibet

  1. darn, does me no good at all sitting here in Cornwall… as for the kayak well I would of course be happy to provide you with one but I cannot find envelopes big enough here..

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