The Road to Bumthang

On the steps to the temple.
On the steps to the temple.
Natascha contemplated the meaning of life...or just her fingers.
Natascha contemplated the meaning of life…or just her fingers.
Our bus ride.....
Our bus ride…..

I’m always amazed by the journey from Trongsa to Bumthang.  The scenery changes dramatically….you leave the dense forests of the Black Range that runs north to south in central Bhutan and enter the alpine terrain of the upper plateau.  Once over the pass, you descend through forests of white pine and an open valley with straight roads (a very unique feature in Bhutan)…onto Jakar.

Up the steep stairs in Trongsa Dzong!
Up the steep stairs in Trongsa Dzong!

On our way today, we visited the largest of the Dzongs in Bhutan, Trongsa Dzong.  We had the chance to go into the inner shrine room in the temple, a very rare treat for us all.  The monks were in the process of lighting 1000 butter lamps in honor of the Buddha’s passing all those centuries ago.

Later in the day we stopped for tea along the pass, wandered into a nunnery and sat for a while to listen to chanting on this day of Buddha’s parinirvana.  The nuns chanted in unison and the mantra had a kind of soporific affect on us all.  Soon after, they served us butter tea, puffed rice, and a few treats.

Cleaning butter lamps at the temple.
Cleaning butter lamps at the temple.

From there we headed back to the hotel and settled in for the night.  Our day was easy and actually quite wonderful.

WIFI remarkably slow tonight….will upload photos when I can tonight or tomorrow AM!

From Punakha to Trongsa

Somedays, you wake up and realize the day is going to be great.  That the world aligns in such a way that all of the plans you put into place, all of the individual elements come together to make something truly wonderful.  Today was such a day.

We began an early morning (6:00 AM) ride to Trongsa.  The road across Bhutan, as I have written in the past, is a work in progress.  We trudged along through dirt, mud, gravel, and pavement to Namgay’s village and the Tsangkhap Lower Secondary School. TGF_3435 I will write more on the events leading up to the school visit, but let me just say that our visit was magical.  We connected with students in a way that just had not happened before this visit. Maybe some of the students remembered our last visit, maybe we were more open to the interaction.  For whatever reason, we spent the afternoon connecting with the kids.

After the football match on a field of mud.
After the football match on a field of mud.

We dropped off many of the school supplies we sent to the school; ten more boxes of supplies are on their way thanks to the donations of students at Sandia Prep.  In the coming years, I certainly hope we can supply this rural school with some of the things they need.

Check out the photos…I’ll post more extensive photos when we reach better WIFI connections.

Cleaning the butter lamps.
Cleaning the butter lamps.
They begged me for a photo!
They begged me for a photo!
Drinking tea on the roadside
Drinking tea on the roadside

TGF_3405

The morning communal meal
The morning communal meal
The cultured crew.
The cultured crew.
Pele La Pass...on the road to Trongsa
Pele La Pass…on the road to Trongsa
The question and answer session.
The question and answer session.
Layla, again surrounded by students.
Layla, again surrounded by students.