Monday, December 9, 2013

Ura Homestay

For the first leg of the great journey east we spent a lovely day in Tang Valley.

A highlight was visiting our friend (and former Chumey teacher) Sabrina at Pema Choling nunnery where she's been living the past few months.

Until we meet again soon, Sabrina!

We made it all the way up the valley for the third time to take my friend Jana to Ogyen Choling museum. We chanced to find resident and my favourite Bhutanese author Kunzang Choden and husband at home and were invited for a delightful snack of preserved pears from their tree with homemade yoghurt!

We were super excited to see the pair of black-necked cranes who migrate to Tang in the winter.

Our destination for the evening was Ura village and through a friend I had organised a' homestay' for the night as Ura doesn't have much in the way of hotels.
The house was large and we immediately gravitated to the spacious kitchen/living room where a bukhari warmed us. Evening temperatures in Ura at this time of year dip below zero, but inside the house was cosy. We were offered two simple rooms; Jana's  obviously usually a teenage boy's by the look of all the sport and music posters on the walls!

Bathroom facilities were basic but authentic. The toilet was a drop style without water and I'm not sure if I got it right, but it was somewhere between a sit down and a squat!! The only bathing option was the outdoor cold tap which didn't get any takers for an evening bath! Brushing my teeth in the dark here, I was in awe of the black night sky sparkling with thousands of stars. An outdoor bathroom in the Himalayas with outstanding views!

An outdoor bathroom.

No words necessary!

Dinner was a delicious feast of local foods and so much tastier than what is usually offered in tourist hotels in Bhutan. We even had the chance to help make puta (buckwheat) noodles by simply sitting on the noodle press!

Xavier lent a little weight to the press...

Remy jumped on too!

We enjoyed a good sleep under thick blankets and were treated to a massive breakfast of rice, vegetable dishes and puris before setting off to explore Ura village on foot.

Breakfast snuggles with Jana by the bukhari.

Luckily, this time we were able to find someone with the key to the Lhakhang and it featured an enormous Guru Rinpoche statue. Even Remy recognises him now and knew he was holding a 'dorji' in his hand. He immediately started prostrating and asked for money to leave on the altar - it was a moment I realised that Remy really is at home here in Bhutan.

I had arranged to visit the READ library as I've read a lot about this organisation that sets up libraries in communities across Bhutan, Nepal and India. It was the most wonderful library and an amazing asset for the Ura community. Neat shelves of plastic-covered books were arranged and an adjoining room for women and children housed games and early childhood books. There is also a computer lab with six computers.

Ura READ Library.

All around the walls childrens' art work and writing decorated the library. The director of VAST art gallery in Thimphu has been here to work with students and Lisa Napoli (author of Radio Shangri-la) ran a creative writing workshop for locals.

I hope that READ continues to build libraries in small communities in Bhutan to boost literacy and bring varied education opportunities to villagers far from the big cities.
Ura was a great place to stay the night, and although the accommodation was very basic, the excellent food more than made up for it.

View of Ura village from the library.

We left Ura and headed into unknown territory: eastern Bhutan, warmth and new scenery. Update coming soon...


  1. We've admired Ura from the road so many times going east / west It looks positively idyllic So glad you got to go there

    1. It was lovely. And I really liked Ranjung, I could see why you'd be happy to have lived there for two years!

  2. Great place I also would like to suggest to visit Kerala the southern most regions in India and particularly get accommodated in a typical homestay in Alleppey.

  3. Travelling is part of life for India you can get India cheap flight