Beautiful Bhutan

We arrived home on Sunday but am still suffering from jet lag and a cold caught in the airport frown.  Bhutan is such an authentically beautiful place.  The air is so clean it lends a vividness to natural colors which I hope shows well in these few photos.  It was harvest time so there was much work being done in the fields and festivals in town.

 

11/06/2014 - 23:03
11/07/2014 - 00:15
JB
11/07/2014 - 05:02
11/08/2014 - 16:53
11/07/2014 - 10:14
11/07/2014 - 17:13
11/08/2014 - 17:49
11/09/2014 - 11:43
11/10/2014 - 18:36
KBS
11/10/2014 - 13:18
Some great pics
11/07/2014 - 00:15

It looks like you saw some prayer flags, traditional doorways, yurts in additon to some beautiful, natural, scenery...and so much more!

Thanks for sharing the fun!

Dan, I was hoping to find yurts still in use
11/08/2014 - 17:04

but alas the Bhutanese have completely given them up for poly tarps crying.  They make a low-wall shelter of field stones then cover the top over with the tarp, which is much more portable.  Some shelters lower on the mountain will get a semi-permanent roof of wood; three overlaping layers of rough planks weighed down with stones.  They build a fire inside and rely on the leaky walls to exhaust the smoke which, as you can see in one of my pictures, doesn't really work.  Unfortunately, lung disease is very common amongst the hill people.  Yak wool yurts were still in use by herders in Tibet when I was last there in 2010.

Wow Dean! These photographs should be in National
11/07/2014 - 00:40

Geographic!! I assume you became a vegetarian and enjoyed the early morning visits to the monasteries. This is a beautiful look at a country full of the happiest people on earth.

What watches did you take to share with the children?

 

Best,

Tim

Yes we did, Tim
11/07/2014 - 17:35

Really enjoyed the local cuisine with few exceptions (bitter gourd, cheese & chillies).  Nettle soup was a pleasant discovery.  Bhutan monastaries were often combined with military garrisons, or dzongs, which are today used for government administration.  The ceremonies that were happening for harvest were very serious, as we found when hiking through a remote town.  The chanting and low thrumming of those great long trumpets drew us to the local monastary, but they quickly closed the door as we approached!  Quite a switch from Tibet and Nepal where they wait until tourists appear before starting the "show".

As far as my trip watch, I picked up a Sinn EZM 3 which proved ideal.  LOL, this little guy was only interested in my hiking stick laugh.

 

I should have included these pics too...
11/08/2014 - 02:36
Re: Beautiful Bhutan
11/07/2014 - 05:02

Great snaps Dean.

Looks amazing!

Sounds like you had a great time (except for the cold at the end frown )

Best,

Joseph

Thanks Joseph
11/08/2014 - 16:53

Sorry for my late response, I've been a bit scattered.  I was using a Canon G15 P&S but on the advice of a photographer friend made use of polarizer and neutral density filters, which made for nice results.  Still much to learn enlightened

Re: Beautiful Bhutan
11/07/2014 - 10:14

Congratulations, you certainly know how to take a good picture. It is such a beautiful place, you must have had a fantastic trip.

 

All the best,

A wonderful experience...
11/07/2014 - 10:50

Dean, as usual your photographic skills come to the fore to bring us some of those 'magical' moments.

Nodoubt there were more trying times that we might hear about when you've got your breath back...

Get over that cold '&' welcome back - we've missed you!

Tony

Some fun things we did...
11/08/2014 - 17:11

I know it was a bit touristy, but we had to have our own personalized stamps made at the Bhutan Post Office, as the country is famous for their philately.  I was tempted to stick them on postcards and mail home, but in the end just brought the sheet back.  What do you think?

 

Dean stampedes but still misses the post...
11/09/2014 - 17:08

Well, this looks as though it could catch-onmail...

Dean, is that a line of washing behind you?  Perhaps it's time to come clean - wink.

I bet you've got a few more unlikely experiences up your sleeve? 

Tony

You're in good form Tony ;-)
11/09/2014 - 19:37

I see you appreciate how laundry becomes a challenge on multi-week treks blush.  One had to make the difficult choice whether to use their precious allotment of hot water every morning to wash a few socks (not to mention the unmentionables) or one's face and other regions.  If socks, etc., won-out, your back pack looked like a laundry pile where you hung every wet item in hopes it would dry by the time camp was reached.

The most unorthodox use of a backpack was by one of our porters, who carried his new puppy around until he sold it to a school teacher in a remote village!  In his left hand is a bundle of wild herbs gathered as a remedy for coughs and chest infection.  Apparently they boil these plants and breathe the vapors.  The natural medicines of Bhutan are in such demand in Tibet, China, and India that raiding parties are frequently discovered crossing the high passes during growing season.

One such medicine is the catepillar fungus, which produces such riches on the black market for those villages in the right areas that it has replaced their traditional livelihood of farming.  Today you can spot the successful fungus pickers by their large new houses with satellite dishes, and an increase in gambling and drunkeness as they try to spend all that cash.

 

Squeaky clean and satellite dishes...
11/10/2014 - 13:03

Dean, bit by bit your exploits unfold blush...

Hopefully you didn't pick-up too many habits from the successful fungus pickers? cool enlightened...

Tony

Tick-Talk, thanks for these lovely photos. Bhutan is one hour
11/07/2014 - 16:49

away from my hometown of Kolkata, India, yet I have never been. I hope to go someday.

Thanks for your award winning photos.

And you are a testament to the fact that this lounge is not just about watches, but also about sharing amazing life experiences such as this. Thanks.

India seems to enjoy a special relationship with Bhutan
11/07/2014 - 18:04

I don't believe you require a visa, and the rupee is accepted everywhere.  We saw mostly Indian tourists in the major cities of Paro and Thimphu, as well as Indian tour buses on the few good roads.  Bhutan's roads and most heavy construction are actually done under the supervision of the Indian Army, plus India supplies most of the menial labor.  We found for the most part that prices were fixed, in great contrast with Nepal, while service was quite relaxed.  The Bhutanese are very polite but also very proud and responded best to a likewise gentle demeanor.

Part II
11/07/2014 - 17:13

Thanks very much for your commentssmiley.  Following our hiking trek, we spent a week touring the historical and cultural sights of Bhutan.  What impressed most was the fact these ancient, beautifully decorated, buildings were still in use and the few tourists were outnumbered by regular people going about their daily business. 

Alex: there seems to be a glitch with portrait-format shots - the top and bottom gets clipped off.

Thank goodness you are back, Dean!
11/08/2014 - 05:07

I've missed you.

Wow, these photos are just gorgeous.  The brilliant colors do come through as revealed by the clean air and your superb photography.  

Sigh, yet another place I need to visit.

Welcome back, sir!

Robert

It's good to be back Robert
11/08/2014 - 17:13

stand by for Part III cool

Part III
11/08/2014 - 17:49

To wrap-up, I'd like to share a few photos from our last week spent in Kathmandu area to catch-up on the historical sites I'd missed on my last visit.  I really wasn't prepared for the rich variety of sights, sounds and smells to be found in this "living museum".  We particularly enjoyed our visit to the temples of Pashupati and the ancient city of Bhaktapur.

 

Re: Part III
11/08/2014 - 19:24

I had to laugh (at myself), Dean.

I was looking at the last group of photos thinking it was still Bhutan, and said to myself: "Wow, that really looks like Kathmandu!

Then I read the text blush

Still looks great as I remember it.

We'll have to swap stories Joseph
11/09/2014 - 19:41

Tribuvan International Airport in Kathmandu was voted 3rd Worst Airport in the world during our stay and the local media only wondered why it didn't get Worst Prize frown

Re: We'll have to swap stories Joseph
11/10/2014 - 00:53

I would love too, Dean.

Yes I agree about the airport.

But Pokhara was just a grass strip and every time that a plane needed to take off or land, an alarm sounded to shoo the cows off the field!

A journey of a thousand memories...
11/08/2014 - 20:14

Dean, Step by step your pictorial journey has been followed with much interest.

Your favourite saying "Truth and beauty in Time" couldn't be more fitting for the wonderful experience you've shared.

Much appreciated

Tony

 

 

Thanks Dean
11/09/2014 - 11:43

What an experience it must have been, thanks for sharing

François

you lucky lucky man Dean, this is my dream destination. You really have to tell me
11/10/2014 - 09:10

how you organised this when we see eachother

you betcha!
11/10/2014 - 18:36

&

Magnificent.
11/10/2014 - 13:18
Thanks for sharing those stunning landscapes and beautiful cities. It has been a pleasure to follow in your footpath and dream away from the grey autumn days here in the north. All the best Kent
Pardon the tardiness of my welcoming you back.
11/12/2014 - 03:42

I looked at your photos immediately and was, frankly, in awe and remain at a loss for an appropriate response to the beauty you have captured and shared with us all.  I am envious of you for the amazing journey you enjoyed and happy that you were able to do it.  The breathtaking nature of the sliver of your experience you were able to share is truly awe-inspiring.  Your amazing photos have me inspired to bring out my camera and the MDF that I don't really properly know how to use yet.  Thank you so much for sharing.  It looks like you timed your visit perfectly to enjoy the spectacle of the harvest celbrations.  Shared experiences are worth more than things can ever be and it looks like you shared yours with the most important person in your life.  Thank you for sharing some of it with us as well.

Some mountain pics for you and Alex :-)
11/16/2014 - 17:50

So pleased you were inspired to become reacquainted with your camera smiley.  A big anticipation was seeing the forbbiden peaks of Bhutan, as the country has not allowed climbing for some years.  Here are a few we passed by, but keep in mind their reported heights and even name spellings vary widely by source:

Jomolhari (7326m), most sacred mountain to Himalayan Bhuddists

-)

Jitchu Drake (6990m)

-)

Gangchen Tag or Tiger Mountain (6784m)

-)

Zongophu Kang or Table Mountain (7094m)

-)

Gangkar Punsum (7564m), the world's tallest unclimbed mountain.

-)

Chomolungma or Mount Everest (8848m), on the border of Tibet and Nepal.

-)

 

I've heard from others who have trekked in Bhutan and never seen the big mountains due to cloud cover, so we feel priviledged to have had these few glimpses of Bhutan's forbidden peaks.  In a rather clumsy segue, it reminds me of this cryptic poem engraved on an 1827 V&C watch in the maison's collection:

Though we attain not,

Yet we shall have shared together for a space the bread and wine;

Have stood together on the peak of dreams and seen afar

The mystic city shine.

 

TV documentary on Laya Village just aired...
11/20/2014 - 02:15

The PBS series Independent Lens aired a one hour documentary on Nov 17 about the coming of electricity to a remote village in Bhutan.  The program is called Happiness, and the village is Laya where we spent two days and nights.  In fact, we camped in the pasture of the couple referred to as Uncle and Aunt in the program, and bought beer from them too!  It may be available in your area in streaming video or check PBS website for broadcast times.

Laya Village, two days walk from nearest road

TV documentary on Laya Village just aired...

Our campsite in pasture used for yaks during the winter.

TV documentary on Laya Village just aired...

"Uncle" in his general store

TV documentary on Laya Village just aired...

"Aunt", the real boss

TV documentary on Laya Village just aired...

Threshing grain still using ancient method

TV documentary on Laya Village just aired...

New home constructed with windfall from caterpillar fungus

TV documentary on Laya Village just aired...

Dancing on roof to consecrate another newly finished home

TV documentary on Laya Village just aired...