We are all bone weary now. Long days of travelling take their toll. Although I can't understand why its soooo tiring sitting on your butt being driven about – can someone explain that?
This hotel looks quite posh and the rooms are lovely. I think I have discovered why Bhutanese builders put a sill in every door way… it’s to stop the water that leaks from your shower running right past the drain in the floor and off out the door. Just kidding, I’m sure it has a deeply religious and/or cultural significance coz all the houses, temples, monasteries, even dzong bridges, everywhere has a big sill (often a foot high) in the doorway. The little ones in hotel bathrooms can catch unwary travellers though. I tried breaking my toe on one 2 nights back. Still can’t put a proper shoe on!
There is also a 3 point plug and switch very high up on the wall only 1 inch from the ceiling… wonder why??
While we still have 2 nights to go in Bhutan I’m pretty sure it will be the hotel in Trongsa that turns out to be the best. The room was great, the bathroom enormous, the food was superb, I was even able to have a soak in the bath without having my knees up round my ears. The worst was Jakar, Bumthang. The shower was good, unfortunately nothing else matched up, but we have been lucky, so not moaning.
I'm sitting in bed writing this and can hear doves cooing outside the window and also the bell on the prayer wheel chiming as villagers do their devotions.
Ok I best get on with the day as I have to pack my bag and have it ready to go before breakfast.
Fortunately today was a short one in the bus; it is just how the road versus suitable accommodation worked out for those doing the organising. We drove down another mountain through lovely pine forest with about a million switchbacks. Chimi told us the reason for the switchbacks is that when the road was proposed, the village on the opposite side of the valley bribed the roading authority as they didn’t want the road through their village or to lose any land. So instead of going down across the face of the hill and looping around the other side, the road had to go down one side in a series of tight switch backs. However, once the villagers could see what an advantage the road was, they approached the local authorities who promptly said no, you didn’t want the road initially and we’ve spent a lot of money on it and there are no funds left. It is not a great photo and only a small portion of the road is visible but you’ll get the idea. If you hold up your hand and extend the thumb the angle of the V between thumb and index finger is how steep these mountains & valleys are.
The roading network across the country was only begun in the 1970s. Having blacktop is a huge improvement and it only being 1 lane wide just doesn’t come into the equation. Drivers accept inching past oncoming vehicles as a fact of life & are patient and courteous. Occasionally a driver will come around a bend too fast or hog the middle but it’s nothing like the driving behaviour across the border. We stopped at a railway crossing in India; cars patiently queued up until someone came right up the right hand side and stopped at the barrier (and the same thing happened on the other side). So when the barrier lifted there were 4 lanes of traffic directly opposite each other with no room to move.
The countryside has been very different every day and after we reached the valley floor it changed again to a dry, rocky semi barren landscape. We have stopped in Trashigang for the night, which is a charming little town. Very picturesque. We had a wander around and visited the dzong which is undergoing renovations. As Allan said, the first rule of renovation is to preserve as much as you can. Unfortunately the adobe brick walls have been completely torn down and will be replaced by concrete. The character, history, charm and patina of old age will be wiped out ruining the dzong completely. We were allowed inside but again, the no shoe: no photo rule applied. The young monks were learning their scriptures which involves reading and chanting them aloud. To keep themselves awake they rock while seated. It seems a rather hard life to our eyes. And while they have the ability to withdraw before they are 18 to so would be a disgrace on the family and they also have to pay a fine/fee to withdraw which may not be an option.
Tonight’s hotel has been great. Nice rooms, fantastic shower and really good food. I discovered the Bhutanese equivalent of the bible in the bedside drawer this evening. A copy of “The path to Dharma”. Dharma being the various teachings of Buddha. Might have a look!