This should be the end of my adventures in Bhutan (for now) though I am planning to contact the 'orde van Architecten' in Belgium in order to get an official internship status with the Bhutan project. IF I get this done, I will be back soon :-)
The last weeks in Bhutan were intense, we had little time to write blogs,...
3 main things kept us busy. First of all, our project with a deadline on the 21th of October, Deusuray the Hindi, Nepali festival we are preparing and our long discusses trip to Phadjoding and Sikota.
It took us weeks to decide to go for this walk. And it took us even longer to fix a guide to come with us. Everyone seemed to be pleased to help with friends, brothers, uncles,... but tourist season made it almost impossible to find anyone to come with us. Going alone is one option. Visiting a former friend of Marc Dujardin was another option. Dago Binda, an old friend of Marc, who always worked in the tourist business, and who is now running the biggest tourist company in Bhutan (Etho Metho) is our last hope.
We visit her, she pics up the phone, calls some friends,... 15 minutes later we are standing face to face with Pendin. A small Bhutanese cook, ready to guide us in the Himalaya. He will carry the pots and pans, we have to find some food (Durga...) and ‘mama’ will help us with a super professional tent and some mats.
except that the mats seemed to good, to warm and to big, so we left them at Durga’s.... (Bad idea...)
Saturday morning, Pendin, Maarten and I are dropped at the BBS-tower, just outside Thimphu, to start our trip. The bags are heavier than I taught, specially because of the climb we have to make to reach the first viewpoint. After 4 hours, an exhausting walk, great views,... we finally reach Phadjoding. The monastery at 3400m. A beautiful spot, and a sudden cold is facing us. We meet some world bank trekkers, even less equipped than us, with the goal to go to the lake and back.... we have our doubts. We decide to go a little higher since we have some more energy, and the walk ahead is still long. We stop for lunch at an old house, were we meet a meditating monk. He was living here since 11 years, and Pendin was a regular visiter of his house. Roshan and the gang told us that after Phadjoding we had one hour to walk until we reached the lake. Full of energy and hope I pull myself together and start walking. Pendin suddenly killed my good mood by saying that the lake was on a 5 hours walk from this point. We were now heading the peak of 4300m, followed by some ups and downs, to reach the lake by dawn. I needed some Kit-Kats to handle this good news...
But we make it to the peak. And yes, now we know why they wear those ugly ‘thermic underwear...’ it dries fast!!!! But, the road behind us was amazing, and the road ahead was even better. Walking in the Himalaya is hard, but it is certainly worth it!!!!
The landscape in front of us was filled with old Rhododendrons, sadly not full of colors.
At 5 o’clock, just before dawn we reach the lake. The lake not blue like I imagined, but black looks a bit scary. We will not sleep next to the lake, but just above it. Evil spirits could... Pendin will make us some fire for the tea, we get some wood and fix our tent. The tent looks great, but the tent with mats would look even better! It is cold, freezing cold. Pendin is already cooking some datsee, and one thing we miss is a good glass of warming alcohol... while looking at the stars around the fire... It is only when we go for a sleep that we feel the hight, the cold and the freezing ground! I hear Maarten is having some problems breathing, but I envy him because he is sleeping! My favorite position (on my trekking-bag) is found at around 1 o’clock, but sleeping won’t be for tonight... When I open the tent at 5 o’clock in the morning i figure out why... The tent is white, everything around us is white. It has been freezing all night long! So keep it in mind, don’t go for a trekking in the Himalaya wit a sleeping bag for +8°, without mats!!
Luckily we have Pendin who is already making tea. The view around makes me happy and I feel ‘ready’ to walk up and own again... :-)
I take my camera for some fast clicks around the lake, and again it amazes how beautiful the view is. Those mountains around seem so close, almost reachable. I feel on the top of the world! and I am on the top of the world! I hope this won’t be my last trip in the Himalaya!
The walk back home is hard again. Even if we don’t have to climb as much, I feel empty. No energy, and no air because of the altitude is killing me.
I hang my prayer flags (for you all) around a small lake. I hope they will send some good words in the world. Again we have a short stop at the monk's place for some noodles and tea. And we finish our trip with a quick visit to the 3 temples of Phadjoding. (Dit kloostercomplex is door UNESCO opgenomen in de lijst van meest bedreigde religieuze monumenten ter wereld.)
Back home we have only one wish ‘a steam bath at the Taj Hotel’, and yes, it feels great!
But, no time to lose, Dewali is waiting.
Deusuray or Dewali is a significant 5-day festival in Hinduism, occurring between the end of September and early November. Together with Ujjwal, Roshan, Kapil, Om, Ashis, Mama, the bangladeshi guys,... We are preparing the biggest intercultural singing group of Bhutan since one week. We meet at Ujjwal’s place, for some K5 and cute hats at jackets. We all look great and ready for some singing!
It is traditional for adherents of Diwali to light small clay lamps filled with oil to signify good over evil within an individual. During Diwali, many wear new clothes and share sweets/snacks with each other.
Normally Sunday is a boy’s night only, for Kala and me they did an exception :-). Ujjwal, the star singer of our group took care of the Deusi-song. We (Maarten and I) took care of the fist song and all together we did 3 more songs. In a Deusi song you can write about anything, as long as each line ends with the word `Deusi' or `Deosuray'. So after every line of Ujjwal, we all sang Deosuray. That way we went door to door in 6 houses, from home to home, blessing the homes and families in return for money, and refreshments ;-). And yes we became better and better... I wonder why... At 5 o’clock in the morning, after a tiring trek and no sleep, we both crash into our beds. What a weekend!!
I can say, THE BEST WEEKEND! Thank you all guys!
The week that will follow is called the ‘uitwerkweek’ known in Belgium as the ‘non-stop-working-week’ which it was (except for the evenings...) My project is almost finished. Maarten’s also. On Wednesday we have the big presentation day, on Friday we leave Bhutan, on Saturday we are back in Belgium.
What a months! I certainly enjoyed it, I learned a lot, I fell in love with Bhutan. Don’t worry guys, I will be back!
xx kisses from Belgium