A small chapter from Chalisa Viravan’s diaries about visiting Mount Kailash, in Tibet, a place believed by four religions to be the centre of the universe

Many people have asked me why I chose to venture to such a challenging place. My reason is pretty simple — I did it because I wanted to. I was 14 years old when I left home to study abroad, so travelling has always been a part of my life. I also moved school a lot, so I always experienced new things. People usually think that those who travel to places off the beaten path are unhappy people looking for a solution. Maybe they got that idea from Thai dramas, in which women choose to run away to escape problems. Some think that it’s better to be comfortable at home. For me, I am an extremist in a way. Mount Kailash is the ultimate destination for me — I had heard about it in Thai literature, and as I grew up, I became interested in the universe and spirituality. I wanted to see it. I wanted to visit this place. The question was, who’s going to take me there?

I heard that The Thousand Stars Foundation founder Assoc Prof Dr Krisadawan Metavikul had taken people to Mount Kailash. I didn’t know her personally, so I asked a few friends to tag along, but only one could make it. So off I went

to the legendary Mount Kailash, where Lord Shiva resides. It is believed that Mount Kailash is the same place as Mount Sumeru, the centre of the universe and Lord Indra’s residence. According to the Buddhist belief about the universe, there are seven seas and seven surrounding mountain-walls, and there is Lake Anodat, which is believed to have healing properties. There are many mythical stories about this place in Tibetan, Hindi, Bon and Jain cultures. I believe that these stories make Mount Kailash a destination that many want to visit once in a lifetime.

In 2016, I had a chance to walk around Mount Kailash. Although the sight was magical, there were actually no mythical creatures. The food was just ok. Throughout my 15-day trip, I only took a shower twice. The air was so thin that my head felt heavy, as if a hammer was pounding my head. I was travelling with new friends, but they were all very helpful. On this trip, I learned a lot of things through the challenging experience. Forget clean bathrooms — even the air was scarce. It made me appreciate the air that I breathe at home. The bread that I shared with others in the morning tasted so wonderful when I was hungry. More importantly, I learned about giving and sharing. It might be a small experience in comparison to the place’s myths and legends, but it was such a valuable experience. I gained wisdom, and I understand that what makes Mount Kailash special is not just the place itself, but also the experience it offers.

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