The year was 1978, and Drs. Will and Joan Weber set off to Nepal with a group of curious souls who wanted to be immersed in and enlightened by a different culture in a very different part of the world. And so began Journeys International, the first travel company of its kind (and recently named one of the top six tour operators on the world), with boots on the ground and arms wide open, ready to embrace the world’s diversity.
Long-time traveler Dick Siebel recently traveled to the once-forbidden fabled Kingdom of Lo in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal on a custom adventure with Journeys International. The trip was timed with the beginning of the harvest season and the spectacular three-day Tiji Festival.
Access to this region was restricted by the government of Nepal until 1992, and Mustang was accessible only by foot until the last bit of road was completed in 2015. Mustang's culture has descended in its pure form from the Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism (contrasting to the Yellow Hat sect to which the Dalai Lama belongs), and it remains one of the only spots on earth where Tibetans live according to their own unimpeded traditions.
While there, Dick witnessed the annual tradition of processing recently harvested barley, a crucial element to year-round food security.
Lhasa, Tibet is accessible by road, air and rail, provided you can get the permits, reservations or vehicles to make the journey. I had been to Tibet on three previous occasions since 1986 using some combination of air and road travel, but the train trip sounded like a good way to see a great deal of the Tibetan Plateau than the road or air routes.