2018 was a memorable year. I was celebrating a special birthday, and I had planned to visit Canada, but one of my closest friends had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Canada felt wrong. I needed to visit somewhere to lift my spirit, to hold her in love and in hope of wellness. Tibet seemed to speak to me. My partner rose to the challenge of Tibetan travel. I trusted my instinct and in May 2018, following my heart, we departed to Tibet. Travel restrictions were plentiful and we risked not being able to get to access to Tibet. We opted to enter via Lijiang, in the northwest part of China’s Yunnan province. We flew to Lhasa at 3 700m, to explore the ghostly Potala Palace and the mesmerising Jokhang Temple, known as the most sacred temple in Tibet, a magnet for Tibetans and fellow travelers.
Then we set about driving hundreds of miles, with numerous Chinese checkpoints. Sharing music, laughter, kindness and often receiving insightful Tibetan teachings, on route from our local Tibetan guide, Jigme and driver Phuntsok.
We climbed deep into the beauty and wilderness of the Hymalayas, navigating some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever experienced in my life. Journeying by sacred lakes, untouched landscapes and crisp mountain passes to reach Everest’s majesty.
As we drew closer, I was faced with my altitude fear in the first aid oxygen sentinels lined up at the hotel entrances, on the route. Our serene and wise Tibetan guide Jigmay encouraged me to shield my eyes. He smiled, helping calm my fears, “do not look at the oxygen tanks, you will be ok Lou Mam”. Trust, you are safe. He was right.
When I reached the stunningly dizzy heights of Everest Base Camp at a lofty altitude of 5500 metres, again I was a little fearful, but a kind little voice inside kept telling me I would be fine and I was. Jigmay and Martyn quietly and gently encouraged me to climb, at attitude, to experience ancient caves and magnificent sights. I felt truly blessed.
At Everest, I experienced presence. For me, it came in the form of feeling true peace. I felt peace in the energy of the limitless azure skies, as I rested beside freshly, flowing, glaciated, aqua waters and the simple, uncomplicated natural landscape. Still getting over the loss of my mum, I felt her peaceful presence in the shadow of Everest. Einstein’s quote came to mind.
“Energy is neither lost or created it is passed from one form to another.”
Our synchronistic journey introduced us to numerous special sights, meetings of local people, ceremonies and blessings by Tibetan monks in frightfully exciting ancient Indiana Jones locations. I felt present at a pivotal point in Tibetan history amidst the major changes to their country, landscape and culture. I learned about the humility, respect, and compassion shown from Tibetans to all even, those that challenge their culture. This presence gave me insight into the mystery of wellness. I smiled to witness the local Tibetan and Chinese Guard sharing music on their phones in Everest’s Tearoom. Two young men with common humanity and shared interest.
Tibetan people, the lost temples, the clear blue skies, and breathtaking mountains amazed me. No doubt, waking to a Yak by my window, then watching the golden sun go down on Everest were some of the highlights of my trip.