Our first stop today was the Iron Bridge. Bridges were made of wood, until a Tibetan bridge-builder named Thangtong Gyalpo came along and introduced using iron to support the bridge deck. Great chain links span the river and support a wire mesh deck, where bamboo was laid over top.
We saw house ruins along the way. An uninhabited house is not demolished as the spirit needs to leave the house in its own time, so the house is left to fall apart on its own.
We are off to Thimpu today. Thimpu is the capital of Bhutan and has a population of about 100,000. The city stretches down the Thimpu Valley. There are architectural controls on the buildings, which must be designed in the traditional style and have Buddhist motifs. Thimpu is the only capital city in the world without traffic lights, just policemen directing traffic with ballet like arm movements. There is a surprising amount of traffic congestion.
Banks are always an interesting experience. If your business is with a standard teller, they have adopted a “take a number and wait in the queue”. As we needed to exchange Travelers Cheques, we went to the foreign exchange counter, where we got involved in a scrum. There was no formal queue, but it was all elbows to get to the counter. On a side note, neither the Bank of Bhutan nor the Bhutan National Bank would cash Canadian dollar Travellers Cheques. Although at the Bank of Bhutan, they did cash another tourist’s Canadian cash.
Thimpu has all the necessary attractions. Soccer field, 60 ft high Buddha, Palace, Folk Heritage Museum, Textile Museum, Painting School, Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory. We visited a number of these and have gotten a good feel for life in Bhutan, both long ago and now.
Our last stop is the Dochula Resort up and over the Dochula Pass, a meager 3,100 m (10,000 ft) in elevation.