A holy journey. A pilgrim’s way.
Every year, hundreds make their way for a holy bath due to the holiness of Gosaikunda for both Buddhism and Hinduism. It is said that this is the place where Lord Shiva used his trident to extract water from the mountains so that he could cool his stinging throat from a poisoning.
Lord Shiva is the creator, regenerator, and dissolver. Standing alongside Brahma and Vishnu, he is one part of three supreme deities in the Hindu faith. As I take on this trek, I find myself looking upon this journey and on some of the things that I can “dissolve” in my life, never to look back on them again.
Ascending across forests, this adventure will span the next few days and bring me to the banks of Gosaikunda Lake. Views of the Himalayas will be greeting me along the way. There are monasteries to visit and even a cheese factory to see.
The trail will also climb through tall fir stands before emerging above the tree line for an increasingly panoramic view of the high peaks. It will then enter the barren upper reaches of the Trishuli River, where glacial moraines and rockslides have left behind a string of a half dozen lakes.
The Langtang region, where Gosaikunda Lake is located, is part of the Langtang National Park. It happens to be one of the sites where the unfortunate 2015 earthquake occurred, which triggered an avalanche from the highest snow peaks, burying numerous homes and taking away over 300 lives.
I’m having a go at the prayer wheel at a stupa in Kathmandu to get the proceedings started. Buddhism believes that by touching and turning a prayer wheel, one can experience an incredible purification, accumulating an unbelievable merit.
Organised by Adventures Unlimited (Singapore), there were a total of 19 participants that made the trip from Singapore and Malaysia. Men, women, and children. Many were first-time visitors to the Himalayas. Some had not taken a trip like this in several years. Everyone came with an anticipation of the beauty the region would provide, but at the same time, have questions which sought answers.
The road to our starting point was bumpy. Broken roads. Rocks from landslides. One lane traffic. Oncoming vehicles making way and giving way. It is a reflection of the way of life here. There are risks and there are fears, with many feeling too powerless to react or ask for change. Yet the journey still requires each to go, to find a way to make it to the end of each day.
Clouds covered the Langtang Himal mountain range. Some seemed to be moving forwards. Others seemed to be moving backwards. Yet there is a purpose to these clouds being present, even if it is not known by those who observe the movement. The same is true for each of us. We can learn from our mistakes by moving backwards to review what occurred and what needs to change. We must then move forward and have a selective memory, disregarding the painful moments, and being willing to forgive ourselves for those mistakes.
We cannot be too afraid to revisit the past to understand what went wrong. We cannot be too afraid of what the future may hold either. Fear causes repetition, which makes us stay broken. Only when we have the courage to move forward, with lessons learned, are we able to make the necessary repairs.
Langtang is beckoning. “There’s a wind that blows in from the north. And it says that loving takes this course. Come here. Come here.” – Kathy Bloom
The trek starts after breakfast at a hotel in Syabrubesi. The trail meanders through forests of Juniper and Pine. We cross the river and ascent to Thulo Syabru, where the views of Langtang and the Himalayas mesmerize us with every fascinating sight. The suspended bridge signals the start of our 5-day trek
Getting into the flow of things can feel like such a burden at times. The start of every journey requires a certain amount of willpower to decide not to turn back. Even when there are 19 of us, as on this adventure, there are moments where it is only you. You must make the decision to put one foot in front of the other. You must decide to be honest with yourself. You must recognize who you are and who you are not.
Then you must be that person with every footstep you take, whether you find yourself in a dark valley or standing before the majesty of the world’s tallest peaks.
The prayer flags at the suspension bridge set the mood for the journey. It’s a transition point that is profound in its simplicity. This is the point where your cross the bridge. You are not going back to being the person you were in the past. You are also unsure of the person you will be in the future. All you know is what you have there in that moment.
And what you have is yourself. The masks we wear for the benefit of others are torn off. There is no more trying hard to impress everyone else. In that moment, you are who you are. You will be who you will be.
You control that moment. And in that moment, everything else lets itself fade away.
There was a total of 5 children who travelled along with us in this journey. I brought along my boy, Nicolas, who is 12. So often when we reflect upon things, we focus on the personal trinity: me, myself, and I. But this focus is wrong. There must also be a reflection on our relationships with others.
Nic has not been training as much as I would like due to his preparations for the PSLE examinations. It was difficult, and sometimes unacceptable by my personal standards, to see him struggle at the first part of the journey.
But I’m also forced to ask myself difficult questions.
- Am I right to set these expectations of him?
- Have I contributed to his personal stress in addition to the stress of his final year exams?
- Are his personal expectations better than my own expectations for him?
The last place my son needs to feel additional stress is in the sanctuary of Langtang.
Each tear is a poet, a teacher and a healer – Rune Lazuli
Physical limitations will always find a way to make themselves known in some way. An old injury begins to ache for the first time in years. Physical limitations dictate the pace you can take. Energy is spent dealing with your personal expectations and the expectations that others have. You must know what you can or cannot do.
It is impossible to please everyone, but that is not an excuse to avoid giving every moment the very best that you have. There will be hard decisions to make and they must be made. There will always be someone who disagrees. In that moment of disagreement, we can grow stronger by learning from one another’s perspective or we can grow weaker by assuming our own ideas are superior.
What people think is important. It is essential feedback to help us, help me, become better. But it is not something to fret about. Tomorrow must be allowed to worry about itself. This moment, right now, deserves whatever we each can give it.
Arriving at Thulo Syabru (2230m), our rest stop for Day 2. What greeted us was a somber sight of damaged and abandoned buildings. Village homes, schools, and other buildings are still going through repair efforts.
The haunting silence of an abandoned school affects me more than I ever thought it could. No more children’s voices. No more singing. The only thing that is left behind are cracks on the wall and broken furniture.
“What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. Do it anyway.” – Mother Teresa
Although there is fear present, there is also a certain grit that you can fill in the air. In the view of the open area from our guesthouses, the villages and houses are moving on. Although the horrors of the 2015 earthquake will always live in their minds, there will also continue to put one foot in front of the other.
There is no looking back.
end of part 1
Reflections from this post, “The Things You’ll Leave Behind on the Gosaikunda Lake Trek” is inspired by the book entitled “Never Go Back,” which is written by psychologist and preacher Dr. Henry Cloud. To find out more about this book, please click the image below.
Nepal Unlimited The Himalayan Panoramas – Gosainkund Lake Trek, Langtang National Park on YouTube