The Long Drive West

Sitting in the dining area this morning, I wondered at the trip and the travel we have done.  We have covered miles and miles of ground in the past eight days and this day promised to be the longest so far.

The thing to know about Bhutan is that the roads are one lane tracks that hug the mountains.  I imagined looking at a topo map of Bhutan, the road carved into the side of mountains, contouring around each hill and valley.   The road winds back and forth across the country.  And this road is, in fact, the only West-East road in Bhutan, meaning that all traffic crossing the country must, by necessity, use this trunk road for all travel.

The amazing thing is, it all seems to work fairly well.  We passed TATA trucks, dump trucks, machinery of all sorts, small cars, big cars, SUVs, tiny vehicles….bikes, motorcycles and folks walking along the road.  All headed in one direction or another traveling on this remarkable road.

At the same time, when you see a sign that says “65 kilometers” what it should say is “about three hours if you are lucky!”  The thing is, travel in Bhutan is necessarily slow.  For those of us who are

On the road to Wangdue, the stupa appeared.
On the road to Wangdue, the stupa appeared.

anxious or ADD, this scenario might seem like a nightmare.  For those of us more patient, the travel becomes an experience in seeing a lot of scenery, flora, and fauna in this Asian nation.

To summarize this day for you: we left Chamkar at 8:15 AM and arrived in Wangdue at about 6:45 PM (with numerous stops).  We saw landslides, stopped vehicles, temples, and ate lunch in one of the most serene places in the country.

In fact, along this road are some of the most remarkable sights you can see in Asia.  One of them, Chendebji Chorten is a stupa copied from the style of the great stupa in Kathmandu,  Bodhanath.  The stupa is white, rounded, and, at the top, the eyes of the Buddha face each direction.   We stopped for lunch at this site as rain began to sprinkle on us in the dim daylight of the afternoon.  The hotel we stayed at in Chamkar town prepared a boxed lunch that included eggs, sandwiches, cut vegetables, and a small cake.  Our moments here we quite wonderful and the stream nearby offered a beautiful melody that passed through the trees surrounding the road.

All in all, we traveled a long way (in terms of time spent in a vehicle) and saw a lot of the country of Bhutan.

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