Friday, June 7, 2013

Sun Shines on Trongsa

In my head I have somehow developed a belief that Bhutan is a land of cold weather, pine trees, traditional Bhutanese homes, people wearing handwoven kiras and ghos living in sparsely populated villages. I wonder why? This describes Chumey where we live in the region of Bumthang, and it feels like Bumthang is Bhutan to me as this is where we are immersed.

So when I come to Trongsa, just one and a half hours away, I have this strange feeling that I'm not in Bhutan any longer - which is quite ridiculous, because Trongsa is very much a part of Bhutan, and what I have to come to understand is that Bhutan although small, is a very varied country in terms of climate, people, customs, language and geography. I thought about it in terms of Australia - if a visitor thought that Tasmania (where I was born) was what Australia was all about they would have such a narrow view that doesn't encompass sunny Queensland (where our home is now) let alone all the other diversity throughout the rest of the country.

Later in the year I hope to go over the high Thrumsing-la mountain pass to see the east of Bhutan - I am tantalised by photos posted by our fellow teacher Colin in Yadi which are so different to here.

But back to Trongsa. Our first excursion on Saturday morning was to the vegetable market to buy fruit - we have come to really appreciate whatever fruit is available and stock up as we can't buy it in Chumey.

Remy loves picking out the odd red chillies from the basket of green chillies!

With apples and bananas to eat we climbed hundreds of stairs straight up the hill towards Kyle's school - Trongsa Primary School.

Just a house we passed on the way up - I love the arrangements of flowers in pots.

When we arrived I just had to ask 'Where is Mr Kyle?' and a large group of students escorted us to where he and some kids were moving an enormous pile of papers they had found in the roof of the building he lives in from the days when it was the regional hospital.

Kyle's home was basic but good enough, and like Sarah he is happy with his accomodation. He has a room set up as a kitchen, a room with tables where he conducts after school classes and a bedroom with a bed made out of school desks.

Across the way was the library and I was fascinated to look inside at the very neatly arranged books - so many new and so many are ones I'd love to have in our library too. This library is more of a space for teachers to come and select books for their class rather than a place for children to browse (thus the tidiness).

Inpiration in the library.


Kyle showed us around the school and it was really interesting to see similarities and differences with mine. I was very impressed with the PP classroom which was very similar to an early childhood classroom at home - I had room-envy looking at the neat way resources had been stored, posters displayed, tables laid out, and all the space (and no holes in the floor to fall into!).

PP Classroom at Trongsa Primary School.

I saw this sign outside one of the classrooms and made one for our library as I soon as I got home.
Assembly ground.

The school grounds were beautifully decorated with flowers.
"Today is better than yesterday."

Mr Kyle and students.

One of Kyle's students from class 4, Saibin offered to walk back down to Trongsa with us - we chose to go the long way to see a different view than last time. On the way we chatted to Saibin who had excellent English, and moreover a confidence and eagerness to talk with us that is quite rare here. It turns out his ambition is to be a tour guide, so I think we were his guinea-pigs! He did such a good job, and I feel like he has exactly the right talents to achieve his dream - so study hard Saibin!

Lush views as we walked back down to Trongsa.

The river seemed to be rushing with monsoon rains.

Our guide, Saibin.

He took us to see the palace where the revered Fourth King was born. It is behind a large unlocked fence, and looks to be off limits to visitors, but he had connections that let us in for a quick peek. We saw the beautifully maintained gardens and thought it would be a lovely place to stay for a King - secluded behind a stone fence, but with views right onto the heart of Trongsa.

The front door of the palace.

Home where we were told the Fourth King was born.

The gardens were beautiful.


Kyle came to meet us in the afternoon and we went on a shopping expedition to nearly every shop in town to find skipping ropes. Having received three from a friend at home that were so well loved by the kids, I wanted to expand our collection. We found nine in town, and I also picked up some presents for Remy's birthday.

Something I saw while we were shopping...

Later Sarah and Valerie arrived after waiting hours for a lift. We went down to the Dzong for a quick look around. The Dzongda (Mayor) and friends were playing a game of archery just outside the Dzong - a most spectacular setting.


The Dzong is the administrative headquarters for Trongsa and also a monastery.

And who should we hear cock-a-doodle-doing when we approached the courtyard in the Dzong?
I was surprised to see a few of these Bottlebrush trees (Banksia) - native to Australia - how did they get here?

Dinner at the Oyster House rounded out the evening. I made the mistake of ordering fish - it is nothing like fish at home, horrible - mental note - don't bother ordering fish in the Himalayas!

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