Immersed in a hotspring that is tucked within a mountain cave, sitting beside the venerable and irrepressible Dorjè Kandro. Just days before, we began the fifty-two day walk from my - then - home in ‘Shangri-la’ (Gyalthang) in northwestern Yunnan, to Lhasa along one of the main routes of the Tea Horse Road. Dorjè was a kind of Peter O’Toole of the mountains - elegant, naughty, strong in a way that very few mortals are strong, and utterly devoted. But mainly, just naughty. He was notorious along much of our routing through northwestern Yunnan province for being able to calmly smoke a cigarette, sing (out of tune), take sips of firewater, and carry on a conversation…all while carrying 25kg’s up 45 degree slopes.
He never did make the journey all the way to Lhasa, having had to turn back in Chamdo, Tibet, to help another team member and friend, Dakpa, return home after succumbing to sickness and dehydration. Dorjè featured heavily (in so many brilliant and provocative ways) in my book “The Ancient Tea Horse Road” and in fact easily warranted a narrative and book dedicated entirely to him and his exploits. Though he loved tea, he loved whisky more...and we loved him more still. Very much missing ‘the Dorj’.