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Friday, March 09, 2012

The Chinese Connection in Changthang Cold Desert

The Changthang cold desert is one of the most remote and hostile regions in the world and it is possibly one of the prettiest too. The Himalayan landscapes in this region is simply outstanding with the snow clad mountains casting a strong contrast to the dry and barren countryside.

Sunset at Tangtse 
Since this area is very remote and hostile, it is very difficult to find a place to stay here. But, if push comes to shove, you end up finding a manageable place even in the remotest of villages. And that is how we found the Yakmik Changla Guest House at Tangtse when our original plan got altered due to permit issues and road blockages.

Evening sky at Tangtse 
This guest house is part of a local home. The place came well equipped with a bukhari (kerosene room heater) in the common living room and a LPG room heater in our 4 bedded room. Thus, our chances of weathering the minus 30 degree Celsius weather was very high. In fact, we were really comfortable inside. The rooms were simple, but came with nice beds and thick blankets. And all this for 800 rupees per night, which was very reasonable given that they would be spending quite a bit in the form of fuel (LPG and Kerosene)

Sunset on the way to Tangtse 
The food was excellent even though options were not much. Lunch and dinner are wholesome meals where Rotis, dal and sabzi being available for the vegetarians, while yak meat, the local delicacy was available to the non-vegetarian eaters. Breakfast and evening snacks are limited to Maggi and Bread Omelette. Again, very limited resources, but feels like heaven in that biting cold weather. And the icing on the cake was when we asked for Chang, the local brew (millet beer) and they provided us this too.

Sunrise in the Western Himalayas of Changthang Cold Desert 
But, everything about the guest house was not that rosy. And we figured that out when we used the restrooms. First, the restrooms had no light and second, they were open to the world at the bottom. But, the best part is that our offerings that go down 20 feet below us is fed by the pigs below. To all those who are not aware of this, this is called the Chinese loo. Phew! This Chinese connection was quite an interesting experience for us.



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