Next day woke up very early, finished my morning ablutions quickly and rushed out of the shady hotel. Waited at the road crossing for almost 2.5 hrs for my bus to arrive. As it was a slow bus, took its own time to arrive and when it did, i ran towards its screaming and waving my tickets at the driver, asking him to stop. The bus was full with locals who were taking a 2 day journey to Tashigang with night stopover at Jakar-Bumthang where i needed get down. I was the only tourist on this bus and got the attention of everyone who tried to chat with me whenever we got a chance. Soon everyone on the bus came to know that I was an Indian tourist going around Bhutan and got smiles from everyone. We stopped at a small house for lunch and everyone jumped out excited to eat more Ema dashi (the chilly dish).
I decided to eat apples and did not want to try something during a full day bus ride. The journey was pretty tough as it was a cramped bus with no space to stretch. After some time the bus stopped and found we had a flat tyre. Everyone jumped out and started helping the driver in changing the tire. A few vehicles who passed by gave a curious look and then moved on. The vegetation changed rapidly on this route, lush green forests take over and the road starts getting narrower. Beyond the village of Chendebji the roads enters the broad valley of Magde Chu. Finally the dzong of Trongsa
slips into view, seemingly suspended in midair on the other side of the valley. Just one look and I started contemplating if can stop here.
After some more time passed the Trongsa Dzong kept teasing, looking so near but still 15 kms away and takes an agonizingly 30 mins to reach the town. The road moves into the valley, crosses a river and at the very end then turns back towards Trongsa town. After some quick calculations in my head and some inquiries with the locals in the bus I decided to stop in Trongsa. The next stop Bumthang was 2/3 hrs drive from here and seems transportation can be arranged. All the passengers in the bus were surprised by my sudden decision to get down in a small town and wished me a good/safe journey and bid goodbye. The bus driver even reminded me that I had paid the fare till the next town. And there I was standing alone at the bus station with my luggage as the bus moved on.
Started walking towards the town and saw only one house open with a Bhutan Bank board with a security guard outside.
Trongsa enjoys a strategic location with the only road between west and east Bhutan running through it. I went into the bank which actually had closed, started inquiring about hotels, transportation. The guys in the bank were busy counting the money but still gave me all the information i needed. None of them felt any kind of uncomfort, uneasiness by a foreigner walking into a bank when they were counting the money openly. I remembered the comment made by the hotel lady owner in Thimpu
, that crime is literally absent in the central and eastern Bhutan. During travel through central and eastern Bhutan I did not feel threatened, scared or skeptical of anything. People were super friendly and always
had smiles on there faces.
Most of the residents of this town are Tibetans who were now very well integrated into the Bhutanese society.
I moved towards the town and started looking for hotels. Reached the hotel named Hotel Nidakasum and the owner was sitting outside. I inquired about a room and she gave all the details, single bed room with attached bath facing the Trongsa Dzong all at only Rupees 200. She informed that the water heater in the room is not working, but when I mentioned that I need to visit the Dzong to offer my prayers so needed to take a bath, she immediately got some water heated on the gas stove. After a quick shower went to the Dzong and it was almost 5pm, time for it to close. But the security guard outside saw my permit, had a nice chat and he mentioned that I can stay inside for another hour.
So in I went, quickly up a flight of stairs in an elevated courtyard to reach the main prayer hall. There were novice monks everywhere and heard the "hellos" and "where are you from" as i replied to them and passed on. Later on my way back chatted more with the monks who were actually surpised to see a single tourist from India. On my way back saw a few locals engaged in there national sport, Archery.
Came back to the hotel and checked for dining options. The hotel lady suggested a local dish to which i readily agreed and the food was ready in an hour. I don't know if it was the place, the surroundings, the climate or the hospitality of the people, but the food tasted heavenly. Was chatting with the owners and a few other guests who dropped by to have some "drinks" in the restaurant. I enjoyed every last bit of the food in my plate and was full before I retired back to my room felling really really glad that I stopped at this small town of Trongsa.