Bhutan

Bhutan Travel Blog

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At one of the checkpoints
We are now in a town called Wangdue Phodrang around 3 hours east of the capital. The place we are staying in is really nice. We are in a villa right (I mean 10 metres away) from a rushing river. Its a gorgeous spot and the river makes a huge noise. Very peaceful.

Today we had a very long car trip from a town called Jakar in the east of Bhutan. It was only 180km but took around 7 hours. It was a beautiful sunny day and the views were spectacular, however Hugh was a bit high maintenance for some of the journey. Although he seemed a bit more used to the bumpy ride, he still got pretty upset when he was tired and found it hard to sleep with all the bumps. Karma and Tendin were trying to jolly him along which worked momentarily, but overall I think this really overstimulated him which made him worse.
Finally he fell asleep and stayed that way for the last 2 hrs. Silence. Hurray!

We stayed in the Bumthang valley area of eastern Bhutan for the last 4 days. Its so far away that we didn't see too many other westerners. We visited the imposing Dzong and also several monasteries in the area. At one of the monasteries, we peeked into a room that had dozens of monks sitting on the floor, swaying and chanting their prayers with a lama presiding over them. Some of them were very small. Karma said they can be as young as 6.
Another monastery had the same chanting monks, but in front of the massive Buddha there were bowls of food as offerings - pieces of watermelon, black bananas, soggy biscuits, lollies and packets of chips - a tad smelly!

We stayed at the Swiss Guest House which is run by an older Swiss guy who came here, married a Bhutanese lady and never went home.
It was quite a cozy place - the dining room had a real swiss flavour - checkered tablecloths, moosehead and a huge cow bell. The rooms were little log cabins and each had a wood stove to keep warm. It was freezing there!
They make their own cheese, jam, honey, bread and brew their own beer. All the people that worked there loved Hugh. We were actually the only people staying there most nights as it is towards the end of the tourist season. He was passed around and his feet never touched the floor. He was amazingly contented with total strangers, smiling and laughing at them.
As soon as we arrived at the dining room for meals, he was snatched out of our arms. We always kept an eye on him but overall we didn't mind too much - its the Bhutanese way with the extended family taking care of the baby.
One of the passes on our journey

Hugh lapped up all the attention, but the downside is that our independant boy who is usually quite happy to amuse himself on the floor has temporarily vanished! He has become so used to being held all the time, that he always has his arms out for us to pick him up, and whinges a bit when we put him down. I guess he will snap out of it when we get home.

We went on a 2 day trek in the surrounding valley. It was going to be a 3 day trek but we decided to cut it a day short as it was raining, the track was very muddy, and it was extremely cold. We camped out one night but returned to the guesthouse the following day. The monsoon is traditionally June, July, and August but May is warming up to it.
All the gear was carried by horses and by the time we reached the camp, the tents were set up for us.
It was pretty cold but the people organising it had laid out foam mats in the tent and covered them with blankets. There was also a pile of blankets stacked up for extra warmth if we needed it (and we did). They even brought real pillows so we were pretty spoilt.
We were camped in a clearing near a river with mountains all around. There were a couple of houses and a monastery high on the mountain side. The houses in Bhuan look remarkably like swiss chalets.
The guys organising the camp set up a meals tent and went about cooking us dinner, but then we had to get the boy to bed. Another feature of travelling with a baby is all the time spent in the afternoon watching them sleep and then early nights again. Oh well, we wouldn't have it any other way, though the 'Down Under Discotech' in town did intrigue me!
Overnight the temperature plummeted.
shopkeeper with Hugh
I was in thermals inside a goosedown sleeping bag and I was still cold. The blankets came in handy. We rugged Hugh up and then had the dilemma. Is he warm enough? Too warm? I think he was fine because he slept soundly on his first camping trip and didn't seem to think it was strange.
The guys organising the camp were also enamoured of Hugh. Constantly holding and playing with him.
Our guide Karma, told us about some of the famous people who he has taken around Bhutan - Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz, Stephanine Power (from the 80's), Richard Gere, and Stephan Seagal. Bhutan is so small and the agency we went through is one of the longest running, and for some reason those 'VIP's' go through them. They also looked after the guy who wrote the Lonely Planet guide - which subsequently gave the agency a good rap, which I suppose is what led us to them in the first place.
Trongsa Dzong


15/05/07

We are now back in the capital, Thimphu. We had a pretty good 3 hour drive. Hugh finally seems to be getting used to the roads (though they were a bit smoother today I think). Karma and Tendid seem to dote on him more and more each day and he seems to love them. He flaps his arms and gives them a huge grin whenever he sees them.

We are leaving for Bangkok on Saturday, that is providing the weather is clear. Because the airport is in a valley, Visual Flight Rules apply. That is the pilot must be able to see the surrounding hills before takeoff. It is quite common for delays sometimes of a day or more. Hopefully we will be able to leave - we have accomodation in Bangkok prepaid and then are flying down to Krabi 2 days later.
We are driving to Paro tomorrow (where the airport is), and are staying there for 3 days.
Ubiquitous AIDS warning signs
One of the major attractions of Bhutan is in Paro - the Tigers Nest Monastery - it is built into the side of a huge cliff and looks like its floating.
We're had a great time in Bhutan and are glad we came here while it has still retained its unique culture. There will be a new King next year and it may not always be the way it is.
lrecht says:
How funny! We stayed at the Swiss Guest house too and had a great time (although the Raclette was a little less than authentic...) and we did the 3 day trek too.
Posted on: Aug 29, 2007
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At one of the checkpoints
At one of the checkpoints
One of the passes on our journey
One of the passes on our journey
shopkeeper with Hugh
shopkeeper with Hugh
Trongsa Dzong
Trongsa Dzong
Ubiquitous AIDS warning signs
Ubiquitous AIDS warning signs
Mr Tendin, Hugh and some curious k…
Mr Tendin, Hugh and some curious …
Hugh with Mr Tendin
Hugh with Mr Tendin
Curious kids
Curious kids
The Swiss Guest House
The Swiss Guest House
Hugh with some pilgrims at one of …
Hugh with some pilgrims at one of…
Monastery, Jakar
Monastery, Jakar
Jakar
Jakar
Hugh and Karma Dorji
Hugh and Karma Dorji
Trongsa valley
Trongsa valley
Our guesthouse in Trongsa
Our guesthouse in Trongsa
Looking down to the Trongsa Dzong …
Looking down to the Trongsa Dzong…
Trongsa Dzong
Trongsa Dzong
A break at one of the hugh passes
A break at one of the hugh passes
Bumthang valley
Bumthang valley
Bumthang valley
Bumthang valley
Our campsite on the Bumthang Cultu…
Our campsite on the Bumthang Cult…
pack horses
pack horses
river in Jakar
river in Jakar
Hugh being doted on
Hugh being doted on