September 2013: Back from our trek in Upper Mustang, Western Nepal, near the Tibetan border where we heard the unearthly sound of those long brass Tibetan horns called Dungchen and the higher pitched Galung.
Used in ceremonies, festivals and pujas, Dungchen produce a deep unearthly sound that seems to vibrate the air with a primeval resonant sound not unlike a prolonged trumpeting of elephants. Galung are higher pitched and may include valves to vary the pitch. Both instruments are usually played in pairs to maintain the sound when one of the players stops for breath!
After flying from Kathmandu to Jomsom we started by trekking up the Kali Gandaki gorge before taking higher paths between small villages heading north to the old capital of Lo Manthang. Only a few hundred people live in this medieval walled town close to the Kora La and the border with Tibet. Until 2008 it was ruled over by the King of Mustang, Jigme Dorje, he's now just a figurehead but is held in reverence by the LoPa, the people of Lo Manthang.