The Yotong La Pass, at 3,551 m (11,540 ft), is the highest pass that we drove over on our tour. When we reached the top, we stopped so we could hang up a string of prayer flags. We bought the prayer flags in Jakar and wrote the names of our dear family and friends on the 10 flags. So, if you noticed some extra vibrations coming from the east, that is the prayer flags sending their message out. All of you were in our thoughts this morning as we hung the prayer flags.
As we headed out of Jakar this morning, we noticed that the colours of the leaves had started to turn from green to yellow, red and orange. Three days ago, they were still green. Winter is approaching at the higher elevations.
Our first stop in Trongsa was at The Museum of Monarchy. It is Sunday, the museum was closed but Tashi did his magic and we managed to get a personalized tour. It turned out that when he was a monk he had studied with the monk that helps to run the museum. Tashi seems to have connections all across Bhutan.
We were really impressed with how the ancient watchtower had been refurbished. It consists of a circular five story tower and 2 lower towers. The inside was redone in a modern style in complete contrast to anything we have seen so far in Bhutan. The displays were statues, religious paintings and artifacts from the kings of the Wangchuck dynasty. The picture below was taken from the courtyard of the main tower looking over the Trongsa Dzong into the valley the towers once guarded.
We then drove to the neighbouring valley to a palace where “K2” lived, and is now home to monks. In Bhutan, the people fondly call all the Wangchuck dynasty kings K1, K2 etc to K5. K4 is the king that introduced democracy to Bhutan. K5 is the king getting married in a couple of days. Anyway, back to the story….This palace was where K2 lived and died. Tashi again did his magic and convinced the main monk at the palace to let us into K2’s bedroom. In its day, the room would have been magnificent. The room has bright yellow walls with large flower designs, windows on 3 sides and a painted ceiling. The story is, that after planning the assignation of one of the local deities, the deity’s protectors had cursed the king with an illness and the king died by the window in this very room.
Mur’s two bits
I’m from the prairies and when the lightning flashes and the thunder claps, it is a single boom. I lived in the mountains for several years and was quite surprised and impressed the first time I heard the thunder echo down the valley. It was quite an awesome concert. Bhutan is a country of mountains and valleys. When the thunder booms here it echoes, and echoes, and echoes. The local belief is that Druk, the dragon of Bhutan, is running up and down the valley, his footsteps creating each echo.
Bhutan is full of stories and imagery such as this and it makes for a very colorful society. I think that there is a good number of the population that still, if not truly believe, would like to believe in all of the country’s stories. If the number of prayer flags that are hung up is any indication, the beliefs are still strong and the folklore will continue to be part of the Bhutan fabric for many generations to come. Let’s hope so.