9th January 2017
Christmas Eve, and we were en route from Gangtey to Bumthang. Sonam, our guide, has told us that the entire length of the main east-west highway across Bhutan is simultaneously being upgraded to two lanes and to asphalt – and guess which road we’re back on today? We were soon to be playing our own part in this enterprise, as about an hour after departure we reached an accident site where a lorry had tipped over and the road had been blocked since the previous evening. Fortunately, no-one had been injured, but the road was blocked to anything larger than a small car. As we arrived the local villagers were starting to try to clear the road so that we and the many other waiting vehicles could get through. First they had to move a giant digger which was itself stuck in the mud at the accident scene. Sonam and our driver Gudu got stuck in, positioning rocks below the tracks to try to gain some grip, and our own Alex heroically followed their example. He turned out to be the last vital link in freeing the digger, as his was the final stone which released it. Back to the now familiar road-rebuilding task with the digger, and we were soon on our way.
After yet another delicious lunch – the food has never been less than excellent, and we love the chilli cheese – we visited the huge and very beautiful 16th century dzong (fortress) of Trongsa. It is the largest dzong in Bhutan and commands an amazing site at the intersection of the three main routes across the country. We’re rapidly becoming experts on the life and works of Guru Rinpoche, the second Buddha, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century, and Sonam is a fount of knowledge everywhere we go. Another late arrival to Bumthang after our road building adventures and we are looking forward to our Christmas adventure in the Chokhor Valley tomorrow.
Dee Brown has just finished tour leading our Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon group tour and the blog above was written by the group on our Christmas 2016 departure.