Re-living Bhutan Through My Lens, 2010

Posted by

10 years ago in November, some friends and I took an REI trip to the “Last Shangri- La” otherwise known as, Bhutan. It was an epic trek around the Chomolhari mountain, but it was so long ago, I couldn’t give too many details other than we froze our butts off in tents in the Himalayas for 5 days and visited the capital, Thimpu for a little cultural delight.

Oh, and then there was the annoying travel companion (not our friend) who wanted to sing “Puff the Magic Dragon” whilst waiting for dinner (I only wish there was a joke in here). I know there were a few other towns sprinkled along the way, but details have faded.

An old memory popped up and thought I would share some of the images from that trip. It was fun to relive all of it (minus the Puff the Magic Dragon situation). Not sure about you all, but I could use an epic trip about now! ENJOY!

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.”  – Michael Palin

We were able to visit an artist’s studio – it was really cool to see them work their magic. I get a hand cramp just looking at it. Very detailed work indeed.

Lots of Buddhist monks were out and about in Bhutan – it was pretty special to see and feel their presence on a daily basis.

Our trek was damn cold at night and the early morning…It’s an interesting experience hiking the Himalayas in the snow.

The kids of Bhutan, loved to have their photos taken, even if #52 below looks like she could throat-punch me. Many dressed in traditional clothing, while others are becoming a little more westernized with their ripped jeans and sweatshirts.

We also came across a Buddhist who was prostrating to a Holy Temple. When prostrating, pilgrims will drop to their knees and fling their bodies forward, fully prone against the damp earth. Then they stand up, take three small steps, and repeat the sequence. I believe this is something that can take weeks and months to accomplish depending on the start and end points.

The meat transportation system from India, was less than mouth-watering, but we did ADORE the hard-working farmers we saw along our journey.

The phallus is a big thing in Bhutan….Bhutanese paint them on their homes to protect their families from evil spirits and to promote fertility. If you come across a suspended one, these are tributes to the adored religious teacher and master of mahamudra Buddhism, “The Divine Madman” or “The Saint of 5,000 Women.” They were all over the place, on every building. Apparently, there are hairy ones – grateful we missed that.

The little girl crying below, wanted to stay and play with her friends. Her momma would not have ANY of it. I think I know how that kiddo felt.

I loved what appeared to be a simple way of life. No gigantic trashcans for ridiculous amounts of waste, a fresh grocery market, and housing that is ‘just enough’ for generations of family to survive.

We had a bunch of donkeys transporting our stuff. It’s amazing what they can carry on their backs. We had too much stuff – or maybe it was just me. Spoiled American. UGH.

Prayer wheels are commonplace in Bhutan. By turning the prayer wheels clockwise,  it is believed that the mantras inside are activated and released. The mantras are said to purify negatvity, generate compassion, remove barriers to enlightenment and bring benefit to all sentient beings. (per the Traveling Sole Mates blog).

The 8-11 grocery store and the Forever 19 stores gave me a chuckle…good for them for not infringing on anyone’s rights!

Did I mention it was cold on our trek?? Little icy and snowy climbing over 15,000 foot (4,572 meters) mountain passes. I do remember that experience.

One of my most favorite moments in life was descending into a valley surrounded by gigantic Himalayan peaks. It truly was pretty incredible. You realize just how small we really are in the grand scheme of things. Then the snow came and the migraine started. I think I had altitude sickness for a day or so, but what’s a physically demanding trip without a little pain and agony?

REI did the best they could to keep us warm by giving us hot water bottles to snuggle with every night, and set up dining tents for us when it made sense to do so.

Does that corn look funny to you?

All in all, the trip was truly EPIC. I left out a Tigers Nest image, only because I think there are so many others more enchanting than the image I captured.

Cheers to international trips again – some day. SIGH.

…i choose this…

Pam

60 comments

  1. This looks like the epitome of an epic trip! Also very cold but must’ve been an amazing experience. I guess you manage pretty well with altitude? I didn’t feel so great the entire time I was in Cusco, Peru and I’m not sure if I would be keen on going to a high altitude region again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know, we live in Colorado so we live at 5,280 feet. I GENERALLY don’t have issues with altitude but I sure did on this trip for at least a day or so. I think it could have been a hydration/temperature issue. It was not pleasant to say the least. UGH. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. At least you got to do your trek! Our guides wimped out of taking us into the snowy mountains on what was the main reason I took the whole trip, a trek into the remote Haa Valley. And in two weeks, we never got one glimpse of Chomolhari – boooo. Still, what a beautiful country both physically and spiritually. Love seeing what you did there!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That looks like such a fascinating journey, Pam. I saw a prayer wheel at the National Museum of Scotland…and made sure to turn the wheels to release the prayers and mantras. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a wonderful collection of images! You’ve really captured the flavour of Bhutan it seems. That’s somewhere I’d love to visit – it’s been on my travel wish-list ever since a friend went some years ago. I’m not up to doing a trek such as yours but there are plenty of other options and your people photos in particular have really rekindled my desire to go 🙂

    I can sympathise with your issue with the ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ singer. On our trip to Uzbekistan there was one guy in the group who insisted on playing his radio very loudly when we were camping in the desert, ruining the silence and the experience of gazing at so many stars! He also boasted of his antics with local girls in some of the cities we stayed in, which was even worse 😦

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Luckily the others in the group were much nicer and we all bonded over our despair at his behaviour. Twelve years after that trip I am still in touch with two of the group who live quite near me in London and (in normal times) we meet up now and then for dinner and still talk about him!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I love it! We did have a woman on a trip to Nepal who was just awful. Came from a very wealthy family and was very entitled. She gave a woman with no teeth – hard corn-nuts. Just clueless. She was rude to all of us and then wanted us to coddle her when she was in distress. We still talk about her too and when one of us acts up, we just call each other Midge (her name). LOL

          Liked by 1 person

          1. We had a woman on that same trip who complained that the yurt she was sleeping in (for just one night out of the trip) didn’t have an electric socket for her hairdryer 😆 She had really short hair and it was 40 degrees C during the day so her hair would dry as soon as she stepped outside! We still talk about her too 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my goodness, Pam! Thank you for sharing this series of stunning captures, and your memories of your trip. It is not an unknown part of the world to us, although we have never visited, but you have brought a sensitivity and awe with your recollection.

    I would not have guessed how cold it was by how many of the folks are dressed – they must be such hardy people! Sorry to hear that you suffered from altitude sickness and from the cold. You really are a champion – I don’t know if I would be determined enough to take it with such grace.

    Love the many faces and colours you’ve captured, and the peek into part of their day. I had to look hard for the corn you mentioned – were they drying them in the eaves?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed them Ju-Lyn! When you are in the middle of nowhere and you get sick, you just have to roll with it. Lol one guy on our trip had a GI issue for a couple of days. I felt so bad for him – though he was in his 20’s and in the military, so it was probably no big deal for him! Nothing seems to phase natives anywhere we go. We once hiked Kilimanjaro and the Porters were hiking in flimsy tennis shoes…we are just a bunch of whimps – LOL.

      Like

      1. I hear you, Pam – getting sick and injured on an adventure is part of the journey. But still.
        You are certainly not whimpy in my books – but being around the people who seem to exist flawlessly in these challenging environments must make one rethink one’s extra layers 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s