Sometimes the present just plops itself down in all its going-to-the playground, holding-new-baby, joyful busy-ness – even during this journey into the past.
But now we are home – and ready to leave the Chang Tang again.
Day 20 – June 6 @ 5:30 p.m. Beijing time
Well, this is the day we left the Chang Tang. We got up around 7:00, drank coffee [the instant, pre-sweetened, pre-lightened that had come to taste good. I saved a couple of packets but have not drunk them, yet], tea or our drink of choice, ate rice soup, and began to pack up our stuff.
It was a beautiful morning on the Chang Tang–bright, clear, a little cold. The hills were their beautiful shading of green and brown. And the chiru and the kiang (my two favorites) came out to say good-bye. For all its beauty and magic I am not sorry to be leaving. I want to get back to my life.
Jinpa and Mr. Lee found the road out of the Aru Basin–I don’t know how–and all went well for a while. Then we lost the cook. I guess he follows so far behind so he doesn’t have to eat our dust. But it means that he doesn’t always know when we make a turn. Eventually, Jinpa and Mr. Lee found him and caught up with him. Mr. Lee gave him a regular tongue lashing [in Chinese, so I didn’t know the exact words but the meaning was unmistakeable].
We got back to the little village where we camped Friday, May 26 and the same guy who motorcycled us up to the Aru Basin made Tibetan black tea for Heinrich and me. He didn’t have enough cups for Jinpa, Mr. Lee, and the cook. He’s 35 years old and has a 16-year-old son who actually made the tea. He used a blender to make yak butter tea for his father…In this home, a leg of sheep was out on the table. It looked raw but there were a lot of pots on the stove. There was also a head of a chiru that had been painted.
Then we continued driving. Heinrich spotted the only female chiru I have seen in this trip. She lay convulsing in a ditch, dying. It looked as though she had been hit by a car or truck. Sad.
We stopped at the entrance sign to the Chang Tang Nature Preserve for a picture. Also stopped when Mr. Lee found a mattress by the side of the road. He rolled it up and tossed it in the car.
About 45 minutes later we arrived in Gertse, which seems to be a town put up out of blocks of corrugated metal, within the last ten years. I haven’t seen anything attractive. It seems dirty to me. And I’m glad we have Jinpa to find us a decent place to sleep and a good meal. Actually, I’m so tired I could skip the meal and just go to sleep.
[At the lodging] they gave us each 2 huge thermoses of hot water. I used an entire thermos to wash my hair, my face, etc. and soak my feet. Then I found clean clothes. It does feel good to be a bit cleaner.
We eat. I’m eager to hear what Jinpa has learned about the baby.
8:22 p.m. Beijing time.
Baby is good. Even ate a little tsampa [barley flour and water balls].
I find myself regretting that the journey is almost over, perhaps regretting it more this time, in the comfort of my house, in my own life, than I did when I was so ready to get back to my life. Spending so much time with my journal and with these photos has made me very aware of what a remarkable place Tibet is–and how fortunate I was to be able to see it.