Friday 22nd March

Today is a small festival in Jhong, celebrating archery. The same festival is also celebrated in other areas of Nepal at different times of the year.

A small group of about 20 people enter the square, the lama, the competitors and also a few people wearing traditional tibetan dress. After the lama has performed a puja (prayer), the archery begins.

‘Each household in the village is represented in the competition by one member of the family,’ explains Rajesh Gurung.

‘My brother, Kamal, is wearing the brown trousers and the blue baseball cap. He is the one who looks like me,’ said Rajesh, pointing out his family’s hope.

Jhong is a small traditional village tucked away on the hillside in lower Mustang, overlooking Muktinath and Jarkot. The stone-built houses are topped with walls of thin twigs for firewood and old prayer flags strung from one home to another between the electricity cables.

There are no tea houses where you can spend the night in Jhong, just the Mustang Lion Hill Guest House, which offers camping, food and drink. Rajesh Gurung, whose family run the guesthouse, spent today with us.

The whole family welcomed us, fed and watered us and made us feel at home. The traditional meal of dal bhat was made for lunch; wonderful milk tea and the local chung (alcoholic yop – Jim’s description) was given to us this afternoon before we headed back to Muktinath with its contrasting Main Street, filled with souvenir stalls, shops and hotel/tea houses…

Location: still staying in Muktinath.

(Photo: boys practising for the archery)