Brilliant sunshine streams down outside and once again the sky is a brilliant blue. A perfect autumn morning for the drive back to Jakar, however frosty is the only word that can describe the climate inside the vehicle. Mrs Cranky-pants has already hobbled her way into the car and sits on the right side, a bandaged ankle raised up and stretched out over the full length of the rear seat. Outside stands three sheepish looking chaps, all feeling seedy, one, very red-eyed and bushy-tongued indeed. It was a very long night with very little sleep.
After plonking me back at the hotel the afternoon prior with a hot cup of tea and my foot, wrapped in ice and aiming for the ceiling, Mal (along with the guide and driver) had gone in search of an elastase bandage and some ‘sports spray’ – turns out Bhutanese love their soccer and this stuff is sold in the gallons and it’s perfect for sprained and rolled ankles. We had arrived back at the hotel at 4pm. I don’t see Mal again until nearly 10pm. He had found another Bhutanese 'sporty' love. Snooker. Snooker and Beer - a typical boys night out in Bhutan.
He falls into the room. Drunk. He crawls into bed. Naked. Then spends half the night jumping up and staggering around the room, crashing head long into the walls trying to get to the bathroom to throw up. The other half of the night is spent sitting on the side of the bed with head in hands moaning about the bed spinning.
Now in the bright of day, he hangs his head out the window taking in some cool, albeit dusty, car-wind as we retrace our route back along the hell highway towards Jakar.
Around mid-morning we stop just prior to the waterfall at a flag festooned temple that’s perched on the precipice of another great crashing waterfall. The views are vertigo inducing.
And it's mystifying as to how some of the prayer flags were strung. I swear they had to have had engaged a bird or something more mind-blowing, like levitation to secure these wildly flapping flags.
As we sit here taking in the beauty, we sadly learn that the temple is a memorial for five monks who died in 2010 when their bus plunged off the road and into the waterfall. It is equally heartbreaking to learn that many chortens along this section of the highway are also memorials dedicated to the many Indian and Nepali labourers who plunged to their deaths or were killed by rockslides whilst making this part of the road. It makes looking at the beauty surrounding us painfully hard, even more so when I read later that the number is close to 300 men.
Every inch of Bhutan is stunning. There is no other word to describe this eye-achingly- beautiful country side. And for me I would have to say the East is exceptionally magnificent. There is a purity in the colours and a depth to the essence of everywhere you look.
Not only that but every now and then a very 'surprising' scene pops up around a corner. Like a 'guru' meditating, in the middle of nowhere.
Or a murder of large-billed crows coming together. In Bhutan, the crows (Ravens) are considered very holy - the representation of deities - and it is deemed as being very auspicious to have them visit an area in great numbers.
We continue driving, stopping only for a quick lunch at a small family run café where we hug the fire as it starts to sleet outside. We don’t stay long as our guide doesn’t want us to be caught on the eastern side of the pass, Thrumshing La, should it start snowing in earnest. We're more than happy to keep going as Mal just wants to continue sleeping and I can’t walk very far. My ankle is throbbing, but thankfully hasn’t swollen too much.
It is turning a tad purple though.
But I had to wait until later to fire it up. After 8 hours of bouncing along constant roadworks and a full day of trying to kip, Mal is keen to get out and about. I was too. As much as I enjoy the company of our driver – he is an absolute darling – and we find our guide informative, I need some breathing space.
I was also keen to get some ‘stuff’ shopping in. We were leaving early again in the morning and so wouldn’t have any buying time. This afternoon and the last day in Paro were our only free moments to shop - free moments close to a town that is - tomorrow night we were staying at a farm house and the following probably somewhere far from town again.
We go through what seems to be becoming a ritual routine - the ‘we want to look around town’ argument with our guide and finally convince him to let us catch a taxi back to the hotel when we are finished.
The first thing Mal wanted to do was find some cheese.
On my previous shopping trip (where all I brought was a scarf) she had told me that she loved flowers and wanted me to send her seeds from Australia. I told her I couldn’t do this as it wasn’t allowed, but she had some 'ideas' – I'm sure in another 'life' this lady would be the perfect smuggler, she had some very innovated ways for getting stuff ‘in’.
This time we discussed carpets, and her price fell in the exact spot to what I had anticipated paying for a piece of Yathra exquisiteness. I was so over the moon and didn’t care that we would be carrying it with us, not just through the rest of the trip of Bhutan, but for another three weeks when we on-trip to Nepal.
Back in our hotel, I was again over the moon to have my computer at my finger tips and fired it up. It whirled, then whirred, then made a strangled sound and zipped! The screen remained black, no lights came up on the keyboard. Mal tried to start it. It gave a lethargic blurrrrrrrrrrrrr. Mal gave the computer a little shake. It rattled. It was dead. Our guide was right.
Where's a guru when you need one?
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Hello! I'm Kerry
. . . a plan-nothing, have no idea where I'm going travelholic.
A daughter of the gypsies and the wife of a workaholic, I'm forever wondering 'What's over there?' and devising ways to squeeze through the barbed-wire fence of small-business ownership responsibilities and every-day life tangles to discover it.
and this is my book.
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