01-Jun-2006

Bhutan - Day 6 - Bhumthang - Punakha


As per routine we were all up, nice and chirpy. By 7.30 all of us were in the car and on the way to Punakha. At 8, P discovered that her mobile phone was missing. At 8.30, P and self were back in the hotel searching for the lost mobile phone. W and S had decided to get off and walk a bit while we searched. We finally caught up with the guys at 9.30 without finding the mobile. P was quite down and could not figure out where she had lost her mobile. Not to mention all that waking up early had turned out to be wasted effort.

W and S decided to stop at the handicrafts store where we had stopped on our way to Bhumthang and settle for some jute mats I had bought. They had accepted the fact that their bargain table runner would never be found and it was better to pick up something they liked instead of agonizing over the decision. After this we stopped for breakfast at Karthungama general stores in Chumey. It was too late for breakfast, but the friendly shopkeeper told us he could get us some samosas and momos. The samosas were good and the conversation with the shopkeeper even better. He clearly understood that India was very important in Bhutan’s scheme of things and said as much. We were quite used to being important around here but it never hurts to hear somemore good stuff :> We were quite enamoured of his bar by then and decided to pose in front of his little bar holding up bottles of colourful concoctions. For some reason one of the local liquors was green in colour and looked like hair oil. The others looked equally exotic. Though at Rs15 a glass, appearance was not a factor in consumption - as P had proved loyally in the previous days.

We were now retracing our steps. The LP guide had a much-thumbed look and was quietly ignored from this point on. At Wangdue we had one of our usual tea breaks and watched as a pretty rainbow began to form even as the sun shined. During the trip to Ura valley the previous day, W and S had given a lift to a monk who had told them how to test if someone had reached enlightenment. Apparently when an enlightened person died the sun shone even as it rained and the earth shook and there would be a rainbow in the sky. Guess all of us decided that we were halfway on the road to enlightenment with this display by nature. The monk had also given them further insights into the life at the monastery. Any family could send a son to become a monk. You needed to go through 9 years of education and 3 years of training and at any point you could drop out if the life did not suit you. Not too bad but still not a very easy life.

We reached Punakha and to our pleasant surprise the hotel had given us a lovely twin cottage with a balcony overlooking the town and the river. The room was full of windows, and you felt like you were in the middle of a garden - check out the photo . We ordered plenty of tea, food and beer and sat back to enjoy the view and have long discussions on life, work and everything.

At 10 p.m, P discovered that her mobile phone was in her handbag after all. Talk about anti climaxes.

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