The Goddess of Compassion would reach down into hell and lift people up to heaven. She did this continuously. Each time she lifted people up and then turned around, there were more people in hell to lift up. She lifted and lifted and lifted and suddenly became so despaired about not being able to keep up that she collapsed. She shed 1,000 tears. The God of Infinite Wisdom saw her pain and gave her an eye for each tear that she shed and 1,000 arms to aid in her quest. He also gave her 10 more heads. With 1,000 arms and 11 heads The Goddess of Compassion was able to lift people continuously from hell to heaven and not despair.
I’ve read about butter tea. What I have read has not been all that complimentary. Basically the accounts have said don’t bother trying it, you won’t like it. Yesterday, I had the chance to try it. Tashi was talking to the monks, again, and getting us into places we should not be. We were standing in the monastery kitchen staring at 21st century cooking equipment in a 15th century building and all of a sudden Tashi asks us if we want to try butter tea. One of the monks had some tea brewing and was perfectly willing to share. Debbie could not imbibe as butter is not on her list of acceptable foodstuffs, but L, R and I said OK. The monk washed 3 mugs in steaming hot water and poured 3 completely full cups of tea. I was hesitant and only took small sips. Which was a good thing as it was the hottest tea I have been served in Bhutan. The taste was unusual. Not terrible, but unusual. It was kind of like a cup of melted butter. I could not taste the tea at all. It was very rich. I could appreciate how such a hot, rich, and fatty drink would be of substantial benefit on a cold winter night. It would go a long way to keeping you warm in a house with no insulation and only a wood stove for heat. Butter tea is definitely an acquired taste and I don’t think that I personally will take it up as one of my staples, but it is definitely not as bad as the written word would have one believe.
The forests in Bhutan are old. The trees look like they are first growth trees, ancient, primal, primitive, Ent like. There are trees that are gnarled and reach for the sky. Whole forests without any human habitation in them – trees so thick there is no undergrowth. Forests that reach to the mountain tops and run along the ridges casting eerie silhouettes on the skyline.
I cannot believe how quiet Bhutan is. There is sound, people, cars, animals, rushing water, wind, but it is minimal. We have spent nights in remote valleys, and in the capital city of Thimpu and the quiet is eerie. When we hike in the mountains at home we can park our car on the highway and hike up the mountain. We can be several kms away and several hundred meters above the road and you can still hear the cars swish by. You have to be over the range and into the next valley before you get anything close to silence. Here the vehicles do not travel fast and there are not very many of them, so the distance required to find quiet is quite small.
We have been staying in remote places and very small cities or towns and the noise at night has been non existent. Occasionally, the feral dogs will bark but unlike in India the Bhutan dogs seem to have a sense of decorum and do not bark endlessly into the night.
We arrived for a two day stay in Thimpu and our hotel was in the center of town. I expected that, with windows that do not seal very well, we would not get a peaceful sleep. We stayed two nights. Both nights the noise in the alley outside our window, including the barking dogs, shut down at 10 pm. The first morning the city began to awake around 6 am and on the second morning, a holiday because of the royal wedding, we had checked out of the hotel at 8:30 and the city noise was non existent.
A cow, a dog and a deer all took at shared taxi. When the taxi got to the cow’s destination, the cow paid his fare of 50 rupees and got out of the taxi. The taxi then drove further and stopped at the dog’s destination. The dog got out, gave the taxi driver 100 rupees and before he could get his change, the taxi driver sped away. When the taxi driver got to the deer’s destination, the deer jumped out of the taxi and leaped away before he paid for his fare. And that is the story of why cows stand in the middle of the road blocking the passage of vehicles, they think they own it; why dogs chase vehicles on the road, as they feel they are owed change; and why you never see any deer near the road, they don’t want to get caught for skipping out on their payment.
We were leaving Thimpu this morning and I expressed my gratitude to the head waiter at the restaurant at the Phuntsho Pelri Hotel for all the help he was to Debbie (food issues) and R (upset stomach). The fellow then offered a bit of a philosophical analogy for our departure. He likened our meeting and then leaving to the five fingers on one’s hand. The four fingers being L, R, Debbie and me and the thumb being himself. Sometimes, we are together, when a hand is closed, and sometimes we are apart, when a hand is opened up. So, people, like fingers on a hand, will come together and part and he hopes that we will come together and visit Bhutan again. Or something like that – it sounded much better when he said it.