Silk Road Summary by Nick Middleton

The story is about the trek that the author took with Tsetan, a guide and his mate Daniel from Ravu to Mount Kailash to do ‘kora’ (Buddhist spiritual practice/ritual). He had heard a lot about the spiritual magic of the Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash and wanted to experience on his own.

They packed some sheepskin clothes for extreme cold weather and then hired a car that Tsetan drove. They took a path lading South West form Lhasa to Kashmir, the ancient fabled trade path called as ‘Silk Road’.

They came across beautiful natural sights of fleet gazelles and blooming valleys. They saw the dominant yaks and tarrying Tibetan Mastiffs that guarded the habitations of the nomadic tribes of the mountains. 

As the elevation started to increase, the air pressure dropped. So Tsetan opened the gas tanks to release the vaporized fuel in order to avoid any leakage. The author and Daniel got out of the car as the turns and bends on the road became acute and the snow made the road slippery.

Tsetan was able to drive it till the small town on the banks of Lake Mansarovar called ‘Hor’. The author found the sight of the lake disappointing and the town even more desolate and morbid. They had some tea and then Daniel boarded a truck back to Lhasa.

The author and Tsetan went ahead with the journey to Darchen. Here, the health problems of the author worsened and his sinus got completely blocked. He started having trouble breathing and after a sleepless night, Tsetan took him to the city hospital and medical college.

The doctor attributed his troubles to cold and fatigue and gave some medications to help him sleep. After a relaxing sleep, the author decided to cover the final stretch to Mount Kailash.

However, Tsetan had to go back to Lhasa to find other tourists. The author sat at the local café waiting to find other pilgrims who could accompany him to do the ‘Kora’ at the mountain top. However, he was disappointed by the lack of pilgrims, especially those who could speak English. 

Suddenly, the author is approached by Norbu, a Tibetan who worked at the University of Beijing. He was not a practising Buddhist but was wring a research paper on the spiritual Mountain and the ‘Kora’.

They both chatted for a whole and then hired yaks to haul their things. When they reached the summit of Mount Kailash, the author performed his ‘Kora’ and prostrated while Norbu observed the place for his research.