The crews were up early this morning to catch the best light over the canyon on the way to the Guge Ruins some 18km away from the hotel.
The Guge Ruins are a deserted ancient city built like no other where the crews were free to roam around and enjoy the history ancient and new. They had the option to ascend the paths to visit the different temples or to walk down the valley and back up the other side in a circle to visit another smaller temple.
The temple at the top has an old gatekeeper who unlocked it for crews to have a look inside, where some ancient thankers and boxes and piles of scriptures in silver and gold are kept along with a religious icon of the footprint of the Buddha. These are many and are acknowledged not to be actual footprints of the Buddha, but replicas or representations of them which are held in great reverence.
With the top standing at around 4,000m, most opted to stay on the lower levels but a brave few embarked on the climb to the top including Lloyd and Treacy Reddington, Mark Molyneaux, and Event Director Liz Wenman.
Phillip and Yvonne Haslam arrived at the ruins in their own car fresh from repair. There were still some minor adjustments to be made to help settle the car down but at least they are back driving under their own steam.
Once the crews had visited the ruins, they had the option of heading back into Zhada to the Tholing monastery, which is currently being renovated, or to start the journey to Darchen, where we would have our night halt.
There were also two monasteries near Darchen that crews could visit as well. The Tirthapuri Hot Spring and Monastery are associated sacred sites with Mount Kailash and Lake Manarsarovar. Pilgrims typically come here after completing the Kailash pilgrimage. They bathe in pools fed by the sacred springs, then visit the cave and monastery associated with Guru Rinpoche. The Bonpo Sanctuary of Gurugyam and the cave hermitage of Yungdrung Rinchen Barwa, are the major centre of the Bon religion in far-west Tibet, which was the official Tibetan religion before the introduction of Buddhism in the 7th century in Tibet and one associated with the prayer flags.
Some opted for a flying visit of both monasteries, while Car 20 – Richard Cunningham and Paddy Walker in the Mercedes opted to climb up into the caves themselves.
The road to Darchen was long and wasn’t helped by the military filling in newly formed potholes. While several members of the team and crews got embroiled in a traffic jam, David and Julia Little took Car 2, their Bentley Super Sports off-road and shot up a neighbouring field to skip the tailback.
Car 10, the Rolls Royce of Mark Robinson and Yvonne Fuller had another day of it with problems with their fuel system again. Their woes were added to further when, while looking for a fuel station, they took their eyes off the road and ended up in a ditch. The police arrived and helped sweeps Richard Last and Simon Clooney to get them out unscathed.
The Camel Range Rover of Tim Wilkinson and Steph Duckworth, Car 21, also suffered a broken rear shock absorber today and were seen in the hotel car park off-loading as much kit as possible to make the car lighter. Sweeps Gary Pickard and Gary Oliver then made a temporary spring assister to help keep them on the road until replacement parts arrive in Kathmandu.
Other surplus supplies were also stockpiled in the hotel reception ready for children from a local Tibetan school to collect when they came to see all the cars.
Tomorrow is the longest day of the entire adventure as we head back to Saga with the crossing into Nepal imminent…