Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pedestrian Day

Today is Pedestrian Day in Thimphu, which means in the heart of this capital city, vehicles are banned (with exceptions for buses, emergency vehicles etc) from 8am to 5pm. The city, while never loud by international standards, is so quiet and peaceful today. People are walking down the main streets as if they are like pedestrian malls at home. For once, walking around town with the boys today wasn't such a concern - we could easily cross the road, and I wasn't worried that they'd be hit by car.

The idea of Pedestrian Day has been controversial in Thimphu, and while we were hanging out at Ambient Cafe after lunch, and the boys were being entertained by some of our other BCF teachers, I had time to flick through a back issue (actually the inaugural issue) of The Raven magazine, a monthly Thimphu current affairs magazine. The cover article happened to be on this particular topic. It dated back to October 2012 when a survey was done among locals that showed many were unhappy that Pedestrian Day was a weekly event every Tuesday. The inconvenience caused to business, families, schools and particularly those from the lower-socio economic part of society was reported to be huge, and although most Bhutanese support the environmental ideas underlying the initiative, for many the cost was too high on a weekly basis. In consultation with the public, starting from December 2012 the Pedestrian Day has reverted to once a month, and on a Sunday, which may have less negative impact.

Norzin Lam, the main street in Thimphu at midday today - quiet, peaceful and traffic free.

As an outsider all I can do is applaud Bhutan for being bold enough to try this initiative, and also for responding to the needs of local people when a change was needed. There is no doubt that cars pollute the city environment with their noise and emissions, and any level of awareness that can be raised can only be positive. I wonder how Thimphu residents feel about the change to once per month Pedestrial Days?

I wanted to show you what else we got up to this morning in our walk around Thimphu. Our days in the big city are coming to an end as we prepare for our big trip east on Tuesday to our new home in Chumey village, Bumthang. Here are some photos:

Changlimithang Stadium - the National Stadium. We stopped to watch a soccer game.

Getting a bit closer to the action.

Visiting the large Buddha down by the riverside.

The riverside is bare in winter, but I'm guessing comes back to life in summer.

Thimphu has a fun children's playground down by the river.

One of Xavier's favourite places in Thimphu!

We really enjoyed watching these men enjoy their Sunday morning archery competition.

Archery target, with a few successful shots, but we didn't see anyone hit the 'bullseye'.

Our next stop was a long-anticipated icecream at Willy's, opposite the stadium.

Strawberry and sprinkles for Remy and White Chocolate for Xavier with crushed Oreos!

 Tashi (which is Xavier's middle name) is a very popular name in Bhutan.

En route to the 8 Eleven supermarket, we saw this meat hanging out to dry.

What better place to end up for a warm tasty lunch than Ambient Cafe (AKA BCF Headquarters).

1 comment:

  1. is that grass on the soccer field real!? it looks amazing! i love the playground - with all the cultural differences between here and there, it's nice to see one thing remains constant - bright colourful playgrounds for the kids! looks like one you could find in Australia! Safe travels Tuesday! Look forward to hearing more about Chumey!