Gangtey valley, farmhouses and a special walk to another festival

The city of Thimphu faded away behind us. We set off to explore the countryside of Bhutan.

Roads are always spectacular in this mountainous country. But today leads us above the Dolchua pass. 108 stupas in the front. The horizon dotted with several 7000+ meter high snow-capped mountains.

Arriving at the highest point of the road, we see the stupas. But where are the mountains?

We have no luck. The clouds cling on to their position. And the snow-capped peaks will have to wait for our next visit.

Druk Wangyal Lhakhang

Tashi, our driver, masters the curvy road very well. He seems to know every curve by heart. And always remains calm, regardless of other drivers or animals on the road.

We arrive at the temple of fertility. A short hike through fields in the sunshine, along local farmhouses and up a hill. With us some other foreigners and many locals.

It is said, that coming here and performing an ancient ritual ensures to become pregnant. Not so important for us. But many others carry a blessed giant phallus around the temple.

Iris refused to pose for a picture and also did not want some unique Christmas tree decoration *smiley winking*

Gangtey valley, beauty in the morning

In the afternoon we enter the Gangtey valley. It was formed by glaciers during the last ice age and looks much different than others in Bhutan.

Offering a wide open area it provides an ideal landing strip. But this one is for cranes, not airplanes. During breeding time thousands of cranes rest here. Much food available between the fields. Safe from hunting.

Next morning we get up early and take a walk. It is chilly. We have no destination. Simply wandering around and soaking up the views.

Clouds slowly lifting. The sunlight breaking through, highlighting selected farmhouses.

And we don’t stay alone for long. Soon we are followed by a friendly dog. A cute one, just looking for some company. Or is he showing us around his territory?

Back at the hotel the dog is gone. And breakfast is waiting.

Walking with young monks, breaking the ice

Tenzin, our guide, is already waiting. He takes us on a hike through the valley. We are heading towards the town of Phobjika. Today it’s festival day at the local monastery. A big event and we want to attend the ceremonies.

Suddenly four young monks pass by. Obviously they are heading the same direction. They stay close to us, crossing our path from time to time. I am curious, but reluctant to approach them.

Why am I shy now? I am used to approach people every day. Yet here I am not sure what to ask? What is appropriate, what not?

They seem to think similar. Or don’t they speak English?

Tenzin encourages both sides and I give myself a push. What can go wrong? I feel a bit stupid not having had the courage myself.

After a few hundred meters of way together, the conversation becomes more. The ice is broken. The young monk is eager to learn English and something new about us foreigners.

He wants to know about football. And he asks about my home. If I live together with my “wife”. Why we come to his country?

I hear about the life in the countryside of Bhutan. Much we take for granted is hard earned over here. Food, education, a warm place to sleep. The monastery school provides the basics, but not more.

As unexpected as it started, this glimpse behind visible ends. We arrive at the village. The local festival is in full swing. We go our way and the young monks head towards theirs.

What sticks with me is the question why I was so shy in that moment? I enjoyed the short talk a lot. Putting so many things back home into a different perspective. After all, what can happen?

I need to be much more curious again.

Local festival, simpler, less organized, but more rememberable

The short episode seems to have opened my mind. I look differently onto the festival activities and people celebrating their dances, we are about to experience walking through the wooden doors of the monastery…

We should have stayed longer here, but we will move on to the distant city of Trongsa tomorrow.

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