Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tsangkha in the Clouds

Public buses in Bhutan are known colloquially as the 'Vomit Comet', and we had our first chance to try one out for the trip to Tsangkha last Friday. Leaving at 6.30am, we boarded and each found a seat, and I thought it wasn't too bad - the minibuses had comfortable seats and believe me I've travelled on a lot worse in India in years gone by! The fare for the 2.5 hour journey was only $2 each for Bob and I, kids travelled free.

I love how Bhutanese music is played loudly on all transport we take here: as I gazed out the window it was the perfect soundtrack for the journey which winds around pine forested mountains and drops down to deep unseen rivers below. But sure enough my reverie was interrupted by not one but both boys wanting to sit on my knee, and as these things follow, Xavier was feeling sick. The roads here are constantly windy and although Xavier had never shown signs of motion sickness at home, Bhutan is the ultimate test! Let's just say that the Vomit Comet lived up to its reputation and if we are to venture further in Bhutan we are going to have to go by some type of private transport!

Anyway, soon enough we arrived in Tsangkha which is about 45 minutes further on than Trongsa towards Thimphu. Our BCF friend Sarah lives here, and Valerie who lives in Rukubji a couple of hours on met us as we got off the bus, very happy to have arrived.

We started with tea and biscuits at Sarah's place - a simple and traditional house on the side of a steep mountain side. Overnight rain had poured through the ceiling and the floor was wet. Within a moment's survey we realised how fortunate we are to live in our spacious, warm and dry new house. But Sarah is happy with her accomodation which while basic is authentic and comfortable enough. The boys were fascinated that as we sat around drinking tea and dunking biscuits, the clouds were actually coming through the window into the room! Very cool!

Valerie, Ugyen, Bob, Xavier and Remy.

The photos below tell the story of our day in Tsangkha, and we really enjoyed having Sarah and her housemate Ugyen show us around.

Preparing for our walk in the rain and clouds.

The house next to Sarah's enveloped in clouds.

We had fun posing for our photo of the day - 'Four Things' - this wasn't the final selection but it is still a lovely pic.

Gushing waterfall, just by the side of the highway!

The National Elections were held on Friday (that's why we had a holiday).

 We were lucky to see insided the Lhakang at Tshangkha, Sarah teaches English to the monks and they went to get the key. It has an amazingly huge statue of Chenrezig - the Buddha of compassion - with 1000 arms.


 Lunch at a little restaurant was delicious - red rice, saag (greens), ema-datsi and kewa-datsi.

What a backdrop - clouds and Himalayas!

We thought this sign was very cute - infront of a rubbish pit - 'Use me la' - la adds politeness to everything in Bhutan.

The view from the Lhakang back towards Tsangkha.

We visited Sarah's school and were invited for tea by the Principal. His wife showed us a kira she has nearly finished weaving. A deep plum colour with delicate patterns woven in. I find it fascinating how the fabric is made in this way. I wish I had time to learn this skill while I was living here, as Bumthang is the heart of weaving in Bhutan.
Kiras are usually made in two pieces - the first is finished - and then carefully sewn together in a way you don't notice the seam.
After a long day with Sarah and Val we needed to get back to Trongsa, although there were no taxis to be found and barely a car on the road. Luckily a family driving through from Thimphu stopped for us - they had to squish up with children on their laps to fit us, we were very lucky. We enjoyed the conversation with them all the way back to Trongsa, and their little baby who had been restless after a long day driving found us interesting enough to stop crying! Win Win!!
Coming soon: Sun Shines on Trongsa


  1. Lovely post Andrea Would you believe we are thinking about returning to Bhutan? Still thinking at this stage but we miss it so much

  2. Yes I would believe it, I can tell you really loved it here by the way you include photos of Bhutan in your photos-a-day and things you've said. I would gladly have given you my job here two days ago and swapped you for Thailand! But things are back on track again. I'm sure you'd be more than welcomed back. But what about Myanmar (weren't you getting visas?)

  3. Yes we are going to Myanmar and Vietnam with a view to looking at the teaching opportunities but we are not ruling out returning to Bhutan and we will have to get our applications in before we see Vietnam so trying not to put all our eggs in one basket