“Your View is Here”

6 AM…KNOCK KNOCK. Mur’s mind, “ What’s that? We don’t have a wakeup call??” Mur, “Yes?” Young Lady, “Your view is here.” Mur, “Pardon?” Young Lady, “Your view is here.” Mur’s mind, “We didn’t order a view.” Mur’s mind, “ Oh, Ya, our view!” Mur, “Thanks!”

It’s sunrise and the clouds that have been obscuring the Himalayas are now gone and the sun is lighting the snow on the tallest mountains.  They are quite some distance away but they are still spectacular.  We are awestruck. Photos at 6 AM.

Up early, might as well eat breakfast early. Fast shower and downstairs to the dining room.  Buffet breaky as all meals have been in Bhutan. Cornflakes, toast, rice, hard boiled eggs and porridge. Totally boring and bland.  Most of the food has been that way.  I’m afraid of the chili’s that seem to be a staple in Bhutan, but the food we have been getting is beyond mild.

Rice is a Bhutan staple.  White rice or red rice is at every meal, breakfast included.  As it is such an important food stuff, you can imagine how many rice fields populate the country side.  I’ve seen rice before.  While it is growing, it is the most beautiful green colour.  The rice in Bhutan is ripe and just about ready for harvest and the golden colour is just amazing.  The last 3 days, I have taken numerous photos in an effort to catch that colour.  I’m hoping I’ve been successful.

Today’s big event was the festival in Wangdue.  We were a kilometer outside of town and the traffic jam started.  Everybody for miles around comes to these regional festivals and with only one main road in this country, it gets hugely congested.

Everyone comes dressed to the nines and the festive attitude is pervasive.  So much show and so much colour.  The pathway to the dzong is elbow to elbow with market stalls lining the sides.  Inside, the dances occupy the center of the courtyard and the spectators pack the perimeter.  The idea of personal space is no where near what it is in North America.  At lunch, L mentioned that it reminded her of the Calgary Stampede – the whole city gets caught up in the festivities.

The dance has a story.  The details are lost on us foreign folk but the general outline is relatively easy to follow – good spirits fighting off bad spirits – and if nobody explains the real story, your own made up version will suffice.

The main highway in Bhutan gets smaller the further east it goes.  We are not past the busiest tourist area and the road is maybe 4 m wide.  For what reason, I’m not sure, they maintain a centre line.  The condition of the road has deteriorated but overall it is still not as bad as Indian highways.

The drivers here are quite courteous. They don’t race to see who can get farthest along before pulling over to let each other pass.  They just wait.  As things go, everyone is patient and very few people exceed the speed of safety.  Our driver, Mr. Karma, is a saint.  I don’t think I’ve held my breath even once.  He’s very cautious and slows when the road surface is bad, even if we are the only car for miles.

That being said, it is amazing that these roads even exist.  I was on the “cliff” side of the car today and the edge of the road drops straight down, I’m guessing about 500 m or more. I ski and generally do not have a fear of steep slopes, but if these slopes had snow on them, I would think twice about embarking on a slide down them.

At 6 AM this morning, we took in a long distance siting of the Himalayas, but the view of the festival and all the other views along the road today, close or far, were no less spectacular.

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