Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chisholms in Chumey!

The long awaited news has arrived: our new home for next year is the village of Chumey in Bumthang.

We are following in the footsteps of current teacher Sabrina who has written an awesome blog this year that I've thoroughly enjoyed and will now enjoy reading over again with renewed interest.

View BCF Map of Bhutan in a larger map

The above map shows where previous and current Bhutan Canada Foundation teachers have lived and Chumey is the furthest to the right. You can zoom out the map to see where it is in relation to other locations in Bhutan.

We were given the opportunity to request certain characteristics in our placement - our top priority was access to medical care for the kids' safety, and it looks like Chumey has a 'Basic Health Unit' that deals with everyday health problems and we are 15kms from the regional Jakar Hospital. Jakar actually has a new domestic airport which links us with Paro (the main gateway to Bhutan) with a 20-30 minute flight (although we will most likely be travelling the 12 hours by road). Also we were hoping for good internet access (seems likely) and availability of a variety of foods. Bumthang is known for its culinary delights including real swiss cheese, apple juice, buckwheat noodles and pancakes and a brewery! At the moment it feels like our placement couldn't be more perfect.

This morning we've been googling to find out more about our new home and have come across the website for the Chumey Nature Resort, the only tourist accommodation option in town. The website has beautiful pictures and describes some very lovely tourist sites that are accessible by foot around town. It looks like Chumey is a gorgeous valley with a river running through - an idyllic himalayan village perhaps. In one photo I saw, snow was sprinkled over the tops of the pine trees in a winter wonderland sort of way - just like a Christmas card!

I'm buzzing with excitement!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Love a good blog!

In the past year I have started following a number of blogs - many relating to living in Bhutan and others from families travelling with children in Asia. These have been the greatest source of inspiration for us as we've dreamed and prepared for our trip.

I love how the blogs are the real story, and thanks to the honesty of the writers have shown us the shimmering highs and the desperate lows of setting up life in Asia. I think it has helped us set up realistic expectations - in terms of day to day life (food, water, rats!) and also school (curriculum, exams and corporal punishment).

Some of the blogs have brimmed with promise of the experiences we can't wait to have ourselves like being absorbed into a community and developing close friendships with students and neighbours. Photos have been a window into the awesome views we hope to see as we walk to school or enjoy on our occasional long weekend or summer break. 

The blogs of the current Bhutan Canada Foundation teachers can be accessed from this page by scrolling down the right side. I guess in time my blog will also be linked here too!

An Australian teaching couple Vicky and her husband Ian who have been living in far Eastern Bhutan for the past two years have written a blog called  'In the shadow of the mountains' and the most recent post has some gorgeous photos of the picnics they have been invited to by their students to celebrate the end of the school year. Seeing the lush scenery, the food (unlike our usual picnic fare) and the fun games the kids all play really adds to the excitement that is bubbling inside me. I really hope we all have an opportunity to experience that for ourselves. 

It won't be long and we won't be experiencing Bhutan vicariously anymore, it will be ours to enjoy for real (which is only just starting to sink in!).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Travellers and Magicians

In preparing for Bhutan we have read many books, but there is nothing like watching a movie to really put you in a place, and after a long time I tracked down a copy of Bhutan's first feature film 'Travellers and Magicians', released in 2004. 

Even aside from the story itself, I loved the scenery and listening to the sounds of Dzongkha for the first time. Dzongkha is related to Tibetan and to me they sound very similar, reminding me of the Dalai Lama's lilting speech.

The story is one I imagine the youth of Bhutan can relate to - wanting to seek a life in America, believing a life of riches awaits. As the story unfolds, the main character becomes aware of how rich his life in Bhutan already is, in ways he didn't initially value or consider worthy. There's a message in there for all of us: to count the blessings we have, to enjoy the present moment.

I'd love to share the DVD with local friends, let me know if you'd like to borrow it.