Today we crossed the Pele La Pass (3422m) which divides west and east Bhutan. We also went to Phobjikha which is main one of 4 valleys the black necked cranes migrate to from Tibet for the winter. There is a visitor centre with an observation lounge and we watched a documentary about the efforts to keep a suitable habitat for these amazing endangered birds that fly over the Himalayas. The final count on January 18th this year recorded 396 birds in Phobjikha which is more than treble that of 2006 when the documentary was made. As I’m never likely to see one of these birds I took a picture of this photograph for posterity. This was a very pretty valley and the farmers here use dry stone walls. The main crop is potato as it’s too cold for much else.
You know what is like when you travel, the first time you see something you get all excited. After a week you are still interested in that something… but no longer excited. The first time we saw a monastery up on a hill we got excited. Yesterday when we saw a yak, we got excited. Today we saw many, many yaks. We even saw one so close I could almost have touched it out the window of the bus. It didn’t even blink when we stopped right beside it – how lucky was that! We also saw a yak herders hut on the way out of the Phobjikha Valley. The black part is made of yak hair and is completely waterproof. We are probably quite lucky that it’s been a cool spring and the yak herders have not yet moved their herds up the mountains. The yak herder was way up the hill above us and we could hear him laughing at the crazy chilips photographing his hut.
We are now in Trongsa, the geographical centre of Bhutan. The villages/towns in this part of Bhutan are perched on the side of the hill rather than being down in the valley. We are staying at the Yangkhil Resort & I can see the Trongsa Dzong from my room tonight. (Unfortunately the lights were not turned on until it was fully dark.). Dinner was wonderful. The food in Bhutan has been very bland (except for chilli cheese) as it is toned down for chilips (foreigners), but it is too bland. Not tonight; we had ginger rice, roti, roast pork, a variety of vegetables and a potato curry.