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Day 61: Rongbuk

Michael Palin - HimalayaAfter prayers they gather outside and I present them with a thangka (from Kathmandu). It's accepted by the abbot, a big, amiable man with a very dirty, cherry-red duvet jacket over his robes. The monks gather round and study it with great interest.

By evening the wind has dropped as forecast. I sit in the room I share with Basil and make my notes as Everest, now completely clear of the cloud, turns pink in the dying sunlight. Apart from the very top, Everest is not one single, symmetrical shape like a Kilimanjaro or a Machhapuchhre, its outline being composed of a series of huge blocks.

Suddenly my view is obscured by two women banging on the window, staring in at me and holding their hands out. They're some of the saddest people I've seen and for a moment I feel a sense of frustration that the monastery can do so little for them.

Getting in and out of my sleeping bag are the most uncomfortable moments of the day. The cold snaps at my heels and yet dressing and undressing cannot be hurried at this altitude.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 61: Rongbuk
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Rongbuk
  • Book page no: 147

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