Just driving away from the airport we’ve been awestruck by the beauty of this place. Looking out the car window we see prayer flags, burley dogs, and intricately decorated buildings. This is going to be fun.
We’ve been driving all day on narrow winding roads - past cliffs and rushing creeks tumbling through steep side canyons. We saw MONKEYS! A big troop of White Langurs crossed the road right next to our car.
Bumthang valley is amazing. It’s like an ecological paradise with forested hills gently sloping down to a peaceful valley and an untamed river. It’s been a gorgeous day. The air smells fresh - like flowers. We’re just drinking it all in and wearing huge smiles the whole time.
We were really lucky to visit in late September - after the monsoon, and before high season. We’ve often been the only foreigners at tourist sites, even here in the capital city of Thimpu.
Druk Path Trek
So far, we’ve been socked-in by clouds at every viewpoint. However, this morning we got up early and climbed up to see our first good view of the Himalayas. Later in the day, we climbed to the highest point of the trip at 13,780 ft and saw Mount Jhomolhari.
The Ha Valley is home to a joint Indian / Bhutanese army base. It’s also a conduit for dry goods smuggled in from China. Luckily, we’re here during the Imtrat Mela, a huge military exposition. We chowed down on Indian food and were entertained by paratroopers and motorcycle acrobats.
Dochu La Pass
We’re drinking tea at 3,174 meters. There are beautiful Cyprus forests on all sides. Earlier today we passed hundreds of Indian road workers. They were doing everything by hand. We saw whole families chipping rocks for 100 rupees a day… yes, children too.
This funky little town is a bit raw, but fun. We’ve been touring the market this morning, and will see the Dzong this afternoon. Our guide told us the government has plans to demolish the town and move it to less a less congested site further down the valley. That’s a shame.
We now know why the air here smells so wonderful, it’s from the budding marijuana plants that grow along the roadside. This morning toured the vegetable garden where much of the hotel’s food comes from. It was incredibly bountiful, double and triple cropped in places.
After dinner last night, a huge lightening storm appeared on the horizon. Around 1:00am it moved through with high winds and sheets of rain. We stayed dry because Kim battened down the hatches like a sailor in a Cyclone. Today has been drizzly and waterlogged. We’re glad we saw the views yesterday.
Even though it’s been drizzly, the trek has been the highlight of our trip. Last night we had a fantastic dinner and one of our guides built a huge bonfire. Everyone took turns singing. Kim and I killed off a bottle of “Bhutan Highlands” whiskey. Hat’s off to Karma, Migma, Rinchen and Targe, our most excellent guides.
Last night we had dinner with the owner of the Gangtey Palace Hotel. We told him it was difficult to understand the nuance and complexity of the Bhutanese culture. We thought maybe it was best to just let it wash over us and see what sinks in. He agreed. Later, we toured his personal art collection.