A Night In Lake Namutsuo, The Second Highest Salt Lake In The World

We all gathered in a hostel at 9am and started our journey to Lake Namutsuo, the second highest salt lake in the world (some sources said it’s the highest).  After our dinner last night, we had closer ties with each other. We put all our money in a ‘central fund’ and we elected a treasurer to look after it. It was quite a good idea.  

The road to Lake Namutsuo was very well paved unlike the one to the base camp of Mt. Everest. We stopped at a hot spring in Yangbajain, which was a little town full of hot springs, on our way to the lake to take some photos.

As I walked closer to the hot spring, the moist rushed into my nose. It felt so warm and so good especially in this dry area.

The hot spring with the mountain ranges as the backdrop
A glacier or a snowy mountain? It looked beautiful anyway with all the prayer flags waving and blessing the world.

We continued with our journey in the 4-wheel drive and finally arrived at Lake Namutsuo, a very beautiful lake like a precious gem. As we planned to stay here for a night, the first thing we did was to look for accommodation.

There were only two hostels. After we checked both of them, we decided to go for the slightly more expensive one because it looked cleaner and warmer. The only downside was the toilets were outside the hostel. It took us around 5 to 10 minutes to walk there from the hostel and there was, of course, no street lamp.

The common room in our hostel
The door of the hostel.
The view through the window of our bedroom. It was a bedroom with 6 single beds. We were given duvets but I didn’t use them. I used my sleeping bag. I like my own smell. One of my travel companions laughed, ‘just like a dog.’ (She owned a Golden Retriever.) 😀 Or, rather, just like Linus and his security blanket. My bed is underneath this window. As we took a rest to acclimatize, the sun shone on my face. It felt so warm.

The first thing I did after I settled in the room was to buy a can of oxygen at the reception. After the trip to the base camp, I learnt that it was very important. We all, except patients, take oxygen for granted, don’t we?

I was so glad that all of us were huge fans of photography. Most of us couldn’t walk fast except the girl who had a dog. She had been in Tibet for a week so she was used to the altitude now. For the rest of us, we still needed to walk slowly and take a break every now and then. The air was too thin.

Walking around Lake Namutsuo, 4,718 metres above sea level

When we walked around the lake, we saw some solar panels. Tibet actually ranked second in the world in terms of solar energy consumption. It received abundant sunlight from 7:30am (sunrise when I was there) to 7:30pm (sunset when I was there). That made 12 hours of sunlight. In summer, it’d get more. It seldom rained. Hence, solar energy was a wise choice. In fact, it was quite consistent with the belief of the Tibetans – they loved nature and they worshipped it.

Other than prayer flags, Tibetans also liked to stack up stone towers like this beside rivers or lakes. Sometimes we could see them on mountains and some stacked with an animal skull with horns.

As the sun went down, I became crazy. It was sooooooo beautiful! I couldn’t stop myself from (insanely) taking photos. Not just me. All of us were.  ‘This angle looks nice. That angle looks better. This is the best light!  The best colour! What are you waiting for? Oh, for the waves to hit the rocks. I see. Oh, look at that!’ That’s what all the amateur photographers were like. 😛

On the way up to the hill. At this time, the couple had gone back to the hostel. They were not used to the altitude yet. After all, it was only their second day. The dog owner had gone up to the top and was walking down the hill. That left another girl and I, struggling to go up.
It was stunning!
Another one!

We walked up the hill.  And there, I was stunned by the natural beauty of this place!  As the prayer flags artistically blown by the wind, the most talented painter in the world called nature created one painting after another as if it was trying to convey messages to all us through its exquisite paintings. What were they? Were you hurt when we didn’t treat you well? Were you happy when we appreciated your beauty? I wasn’t sure if I really existed in this part of the world now. I must be in my dream!

The top of the hill.  All the prayer flags were dancing in the air.

The wind was still very strong and the flags were still waving in the air.  Who cared about what was going on in the world?

When I was walking down the hill, I saw this – the moon, the sticks and the prayer flags waving in the wind.  I said to myself, if I didn’t take this photo, I’d regret it so I did.  It was my favourite out of the 800+ photos that I took during this trip. The only explanation was déjà vu. By the way, I got this question quite a lot, ‘what is that white dot above the stick?’  It was a moon.

The moon rose. 

The stars shimmered. 

Darkness fell and blanketed the world.

It was time for me to go back to the hostel to see my travel companions.

It was quite unsafe after it got dark. Stray dogs started to gather.  When I met up with the girls in front of the hostel, three dogs started to fight with each other and for some reason, they ‘besieged’ us.  They kept barking like mad and we were scared to death.  In the end, we managed to get around them and went back to the hostel safely.

That night, we had canned meat and cup noodles for dinner. It was an extremely simple meal but it also was probably the best meal I had in my life.

One of the best.

I was the happiest person in the world.

I was satisfied, not just because of what I had just seen but because of the fact that we could all gather together and eat in this harsh environment.  And yet, we chatted with joy.  It was something that money couldn’t buy.  Wealth and all other material things didn’t matter anymore.  There was no hatred, no politics but only laughter, harmony, joy and five rich souls at the dining table.

Music started to be played in the common room of the hostel.  The Tibetan travellers started to dance and they even invited me to dance with them.  So, I joined them not for long though because of the thin air.  The smile on their faces and the little girl’s giggle gently touched my heart.  It was so sweet to just look at them.

The night ended peacefully.

I slept with the music still playing in the common room.

With peace, I closed my eyes.  We would see the sunrise tomorrow.

I knew that when I opened my eyes in the morning, we would be welcomed by another brand new day.

13 October 2005

P.S. Most of the photos I took here were exhibited in my first solo photo exhibition.

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