Phobjikha Valley and Gantey Gompa
After breakfast at the hotel, Kemcho and Tashi picked us up for the long drive out of Phobjikha Valley and back to the capital of Thimphu. Our itinerary had us stopping at the Gangtey Temple which is currently under renovation and inaccessible. We did at least stop at the site above the pretty valley and snap some photos of the temple with the deserted valley and mountains in the background. Since Kemsho re-opened up last night, Cindy finally got the nerve to ask about the abundance of phalluses everywhere, especially the ones painted on many buildings, often obviously in a state of what the French affectionately refer to as “Le Petite Morte“. I am still not sure we got a satisfactory answer but it has to do with good luck, fertility, having sons to carry on the familial lineage, etc. and is not really to be construed in a sexual manner.
Whatever, there are larger than life wieners happily spurting all over many houses and you can’t help but crack up.
Resting Yak on the way to Thimphu
As we started our descent into the valley, again winding back and forth on incredibly narrow and steep roads, we came across a small encampment of Yak herders and kids - unfortunately, Tashi started to drive off as I was snapping the picture of the small boy with the weather worn cheeks so it is a bit out of focus but they were really cute and amazingly happy considering their circumstances.
We stopped for a quick visit to Wangduephodrang Dzong where I liked the skeleton paintings above one of the temples and the laughing monks in red robes walking down the street. We ended up for lunch at the same summit place again (flies included) where the $1,700 Bell and Dorje set that we saw on the way out to Punakha was mysteriously absent.
Either a very wealthy tourist came by or the shop girl had moved it. An unremarkable lunch left us ready to be back in Thimphu to prepare for the next leg of our journey.
Yak Herder Kid
We wound our way back down into the valley and over a weird “overpass” cloverleaf kind of thing that Kemcho explained could cripple Bhutan if it was shut down or damaged. Apparently, a bit back when the Indian government was trying to bring in some telephony towers and equipment, they wanted to break through the overpass; however since this would cripple the infrastructure, they had to crane everything over this little two-lane overpass thing. Kind of funny.
When we pulled up to the Pedling Hotel again in Thimphu, coincidentally, Kencho (the owner of Snow White Tours was walking into the Swiss Bakery and we finally met.
She said that she would be treating us to dinner this evening and looked forward to hearing about our trip. After checking back in to the hotel (this time a queen sized bed J) we decided to give the internet a shot and found a place that had broadband (sort of) and spent the next several hours there letting people know we were alive, paying bills and updating the blog. A quick “touch” before dinner and we went to the lobby to wait for Kemcho to pick us up for dinner.
Yak Herder Kid - sorry it's out of focus but Tashi started driving away!
Something happened with Tashi and so Kemcho picked us up a bit late and said he hoped we wouldn’t mind walking to the restaurant. Right then of course it started to drizzle but it wasn’t pouring so we walked through Thimphu and eventually to a four story building where the restaurant was. First we popped into a beauty salon on the first floor where we met his very shy wife who owns the salon and often coifs and manicures the Queen’s. Unfortunately, she was to busy to take a stab at my growing, poofy hairdoo. It ended up that this was the building that Kemcho lived in and we went up to his modest apartment and met his three cute sons and his brother-in-law before going upstairs to the Conifers Restaurant to meet Kencho for dinner.
We ended up having a great, leisurely dinner with Kencho, the owner of Snow White, and talking all about Bhutan, America, traveling, etc. She is a very interesting, sweet and sincere woman and we immediately liked her. It didn’t hurt that she bought us our first bottle of red wine in well over a month! Tashi ended up taking us back to the hotel and we said farewell as he won’t be accompanying us tomorrow to Phuntsholing. He is a really nice kid and will hopefully one day make it to the states. Tomorrow is our final day in Bhutan with a long, early drive down south but we are ready for the next adventure (Sikkim).