Of course we were nowhere near done. We had another seven days. While we might not experience the same altitude again, to paraphrase Yoda: ahead much hardship we would see.
But that can wait. For now, we kicked off our first post-Thorung La day with an easy, four hour stroll into the Mustang district of Nepal that followed a flat road, safe enough for any car to pass. Thankfully we didn’t see any, or much of anything else.
Only after we reached the town of Jharkot did we spot a Gompa on top of a hill as well as these mud buildings:
Back on the trail, the barrenness bothered Rose who found the flat moonscape a bit dull and, with Thakur, cranked her steps double time to pass through as quickly as possible, eventually disappearing beyond hills and turns ahead of us in the horizon.
I didn’t mind the flatness as much, not least of which was for the rest it gave my legs. Coming off the previous day of repeated impact, again and again on each knee, walking on straight even ground was a treat. The other aspect that kept me focused was the possibility of seeing fossilized molluscs.
We’d seen examples at vendors’ tables on the way in: impressions of prehistoric animals in varying chunks of rock. We searched, and even threw a few rocks to break them open, hoping to reveal a prize inside, but sadly didn’t spot anything as extraordinary as what the vendors had.
Probably not all that surprising, considering they could comb the area whenever they wanted, ensuring anything interesting was scooped and slapped with a price. After about an hour of panning for prehistory, we caught up with Rose thanks to a river of these guys:
We hung around and watched a couple of shepherds steer what looked like hundreds of goats across a lone patch of grass. While the sight itself was surreal – hundreds of goats in the middle of a dustbowl – the sound was even more odd. In the valley, there’s really no sound at all, except the occasional gust of wind. From this quiet, still atmosphere erupted: BLEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHH!
“This guy with the stick is hitting a little too hard. Hey, someone back me up on this!”
After staring at the herd for longer than Thakur could tolerate: “Goats. Okay we go now?”, we kept walking, passing once again back into the repetitive landscape:
It wasn’t to a sex shop: we learned similar upright sculptures are found in other Buddhist cultures in the area, particularly in Bhutan where they don’t even feel the need to include a man with a member and often have disembodied penis’ graffitied all over houses and shops.
It would be a just world if the Bhutanese had a football team named the “Flying Cocks”. Google tells me otherwise unfortunately, so you’ll just have to create the logo for it in your mind.
The short of it is (okay. really, anything I say from here will sound tongue in cheek) the symbol of the penis in certain Buddhist spots is meant to symbolize virility and good luck, as far as I can tell from what I’ve read. Considering that, if Bhutan ever opens up to more Western trade, I won’t be surprised if Viagra is one of the first companies there.
So we passed Le cock, and sauntered into a Buddhist monastery where young monks were just starting up a game of soccer, which we joined in for a while
All told it was an easy restart to the Circuit. Next stop Jomson then one of the tastiest burritos I’ve ever had anywhere, care of Marpha, followed by goodbye to our two Australian cohorts: Shari and Michaela who were hitching a bus ride to catch up with their Mum in Kathmandu, leaving us a trio on our way further down the mountain.