Posted: February 26, 2018
Coming to you from the Bhutanese Himalayas. It’s a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit this evening at 7200’ above sea level. Recently the group took a little field trip to the neighboring valley, called Haa. There we stayed with two Bhutanese families in beautiful homes nestled in a lovely narrow valley. Haa Valley is relatively narrow compared to our home base in Paro which gives is it a nice sense of intimacy.
Haa was a really amazing place. We had the chance to visit a fishery full of rainbow trout just like the ones I’d catch back home in Montana. We, with the help of our gracious host “Auntie” made delicious dumpling like treats called hoentoe. Our homestay families were so kind and fun. Jigme, a rambunctious 10 year old became our guide for much of the half week we were in Haa. Jigme enjoyed sneaking up on people and tickling them. Luckily for us this tactic was very effective on the stall owners in Haa’s local farmers market. With Jigme’s help we met a lot of lovely vegetable peddlers, and ate some delicious homemade snacks.
Guide Jigme poses with his group in the Haa Market
We also had the opportunity to visit beautiful Buddhist temples called Lhakhang Kharpo and Lhakhang Nagpo. The White Temple and its neighbor, the Black Temple, are some of the oldest in the Haa valley. I was blown away by the ornate decorations found inside and on the exterior of Lhakhang Kharpo. I especially enjoyed the snow lions, a mythical, or perhaps undiscovered species meant to protect the structure from evil spirits.
Snow lions on the exterior of Lhakhang Kharpo
The real high point of the trip to Haa was our route back. We had the opportunity to travel over Chelela Pass. I was blown away by the awe-inspiring power of the Himalayas. Chelela is the highest road pass in all of Bhutan, and therefore a prime location for bad puns like “took my breath away” as well as “the program will all be downhill from here.” We got to see some snow pigeons up on the pass, and the outhouse there is a strong contender for best toilet view in the world.
View from Chelela outhouse
Bhutan is beautiful, full of culture, and home to some really great people. I still can’t quite come to believe that I am really here. I have had a great three weeks and am really looking forward to the next two-and-a-half months. Now one last photo to prove to my mom I am still living and that great coffee is truly ubiquitous.
Sipping a honey latte at Ambient Cafe
All the best,