Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year’s Day and its story

New Year’s Day is one of the oldest holidays and most celebrated days in the history, since thousands of years ago. And it falls on 1st January according to Gregorian and Julian calendar. However, 1st January was not always celebrated as the New Year’s Day in the olden days. There were many different days and dates on which people would celebrate the New Year’s Day like 1 March, 25 March, Easter, 1 September, and 25 December in accordance to authority and locale. But, these New Year's Day were more or less regressed to using 1st January after people started adopting Gregorian calendar as their de facto calendar sometime in the beginning of 1582.

The New Year’s day was also celebrated for different purposes on different periods, for example during pre-Christian Rome under Julian calendar the New Year’s Day was celebrated in dedication to Janus the god of gateways and beginnings. And in the modern Gregorian calendar of Christendom 1st January was celebrated as the Feast of Naming and Circumcision of Jesus.

However, around the globe those countries who follow Gregorian calendar of Christendom as their de facto calendar, observe 1st  January more of as a Public Holiday and a day where family, relatives, friends and all the well-wishers come together to welcome the New Year and bid farewell to the passing year. They pray and wish for a very happy, healthy and peaceful year to everyone. Various display of fireworks and count down for the New Year’s Day is very common through the globe.

In Bhutan, we have recently started to celebrate this day in accordance to Gregorian calendar although it is not observed officially and no holiday is given, since we follow our own Bhutanese Lunar calendar as the de facto national calendar. But, since the advent of Television in our country in 1999, people started observing it as a special day personally, whereby they wish one another good wishes and prayers and mostly associate it to going night-out with friends and families as they do in the modern times, throughout the world.  Count down for the next new day is also done.

And although, we have our own New Year’s day, which normally falls sometime in February according to our Bhutanese Lunar Calendar. I would like to wish everyone a very  Happy New Year and may it bring in loads of happiness, health, wealth and peace to you and your family and to the entire universe.

Happy New Year!!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

We were in Laya (Part - 12): Our crew

My trekking mates from left.

Front row: Sangay Khandu, Jigme fatty, ata Singye, Menda,
ashim Ching Ching, Sonam Dolma, Gem Tshering

Hind row: Acho Penjor Gyeltshen, ashim Sither Lhamo,
ata Dorji, ashim Chimi Zangmo, acho Karma T. Dorji,
Dr. Tenzin, Dorji, Aue PaSsu, Parasite

In this blog post I would like to  introduce my trekking mates to all the readers across the world, who made this entire trekking just amazing and worthwhile----and who also inspired me to write this very long blog. If time permits and if everything goes as per my plan, I am even planning of converting this long blog into a book. Its not at all sure as of now, but, just hoping for the best and being positive: I have already written 11,000 words why not add some and make it 30 to 40,000 words or even more and publish a book? My wild thoughts though. Anyways my crew are:

  1. Acho Karma T. Dorji (Team Leader)
  2. Ashim Chimi Zangmo
  3. Menda
  4. Ashim Ching Ching
  5. Ashim Sither Lhamo
  6. Aue PaSsu
  7. Ata Dorji
  8. Dr. Tenzin
  9. Acho Penjor
  10. Sangay Khandu
  11. Gem Tshering
  12. Sonam Dolma
  13. Tashi Choden and her sis
  14. Dorji Phuntsho
  15. Jigme
  16. Singye
  17. Che Dorji 

Thank you all the folks, it was such a wonderful experience trekking with you all through thick and thin. I had a wonderful time. I am looking forward to so many wonderful trekking with you all in the near future.

Thank you all the readers and I hope my long blog kept you all alive and reading till the end? Always keep reading and keep smiling. Be happy. Until next time this a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

We were in Laya (Part - 11): Gasa to Thimphu

I woke up early to do some final candid shots. Everyone was sleeping like a baby curled up as though suckling on her tiny soft thumb. Tired to bones, I could feel their fatigue. Dorji got out of the bed smiling innocently, as if he had broken some eggs the other night. “How are you feeling today, still sick?” I whispered to him slowly for I didn’t want to wake the others. “I was tripping on doma yesterday. Goodness I will never eat doma again!” “Hahahaha,” Dorji made laugh alike fool. He was rather timid. I laughed again, but minding not to disturb other folks.

Tired and crashed like logs
Can you spot yourself?
Let the curtains be there
I know them

Everyone was up quite late, that was the plan too. Ate our breakfast, cleaned everything and made my friend’s quarter so clean that he might have gotten a mini heart seizure when he entered home after we left; that was also the plan. Today we could see specks of Dochula at the far end, the sun was shining bright. We left Gasa.

Gasa dzong

Past Gasa Dzong till Lingshi Chu bridge, thin and tall plants grew thick on the either sides of the road. Geographically it will have a different story, but ata Singye has his own story. I couldn’t wait to hear him say and he began, “It is what I have heard from my parents and other old folks. The story goes like this, once upon a time Rhododendron secretly fell in love with this thin and tall plant. One day gathering all her guts, she went to him and poured out her feelings. But, this plant too handsome to accept her proposal rejected her saying, ‘I don’t want short and a fat girl. I also don’t want whose skin is coming off every now and then!’ Poor Rhododendron was dejected but didn’t hate him. She faced the truth and kept on being positive, years rolled by. Some years later that thin and tall handsome plant was going around when he suddenly saw Rhododendron in full bloom, wow, so lovely flowers, sweet scents, how elegantly she is dancing in the brie, ‘ I love you beautiful Rhododendron, will you marry?’ Rhododendron said sorry. He was so dejected, he lost his mind that he went to the cliff and jumped off to commit suicide. See, that’s why you will find this thin and tall plant growing all over on the face of steep places.”

The protagonist of ata Singye's story

“That was a lovely story, never to say any unkind words to anyone, even to those weak or less fortunate folks than you are. It is just a matter of time. Whoever created this story was a wise soul.” I thought to myself.

Menda and the guitar
Lunch time

Lunch was served in Khuruthang and continued our ride…. We the pickup truck guys were last to reach the Walnut Tree. All our folks were there. We congratulated ourselves on a successful and a memorial trek to and fro Laya. Yet, again it was another great time for a lovely tea and sandwiches underneath the Walnut Tree, as always ashim had it all set. Then we bade so long to all our trekking mates.

PK Cafe underneath the Walnut tree, Dorji Elements
Place where we met first and the last
Looking forward to seeing all the folks in the near future underneath the
Walnut tree

I called my friend to come and pick me up, he got a car. After ten minutes, I saw no car but three six foot tall ponies. My three friends thought I would still be in a mood to trek in Thimphu town with all my rug sack and sleeping bags….. But, they carried and I walked about a hundred meters. They had the car; it was a bad joke. 

That night when I got home it drizzled a little. Tears of joy rolled down my eyes or were they just rain droplets? Could be, but, one thing I have really learnt and felt deep inside from this whole trekking experience is: one develop so much sense of belonging and togetherness with one another  within a few hours of togetherness in hardship, no matter how stranger you are; than years of togetherness in an easy sail! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

We were in Laya (Part - 10): Laya to Gasa

Sigh, who likes to return from such a lovely place. Yet, nothing lasts forever and here we were returning from Laya. It was our last breakfast in Laya, eleven ponies of Parasite were set and ready to bid farewell. Our fatty was lost again, but he was up to some good, he went around giving away the remaining stock. He gave two tomatoes and two onions each, but why not all and just two? His experience and logic made sense; people here go without even a single tomato or onion for months given the rough terrain and distance. That was so thoughtful of him. 

Our tents, photographed 10 minutes prior to un-pitching and folding
So we bid laya, "A long good bye"
Welcome to Laya Gate
The last folks to leave

Took one last glimpse of beautiful Laya and we bid farewell, “Until next time, this is a long good bye!” We walked like a pro and ponies couldn’t catch us up, it was all descend till we reached Koina. I tried to walk ahead and take some pictures of our mates in action, and so I did. Our team had lunch at Thongchudrak, I didn't feel like eating so I had a bottle of mango juice and two eggs. Midst our lunch two lamas came with two little Bhutanese mastiff puppies, could not help playing with them. They were so cute and fun to play with. I wished if I could take one with me, but then I had no place to keep in Thimphu.They are going to grow so huge within a few months and need a larger room. I dont have one, so quickly did away with the dream of taking one.....We continued walking down.

She would lead

And she would follow sometimes
A group photo with waterfall as the backdrop
Strong branches had roots deep into the heart of the tree
Lunch at Thongchudrak
Stall was all packed, but outside was warm - Lunch
Front view of the Thongchudrak Stall
The Thongchudrak Stall
A group photo before I left them to catch others up for some last shots
Baby Bhutanese mastiff

In about an hour we were in Ponjugang. I just could not believe, while going up it was such a hurdle and now when returning, we could walk straight to Ponjugang in just six hours. Everyone was as fine as a fiddle, except Gem had a little rough time with his knee but he managed. It was 1 O’clock we had our second lunch in Ponjugang. Expected a pickup truck waiting for us, but he had left taking some of our guys. So, we hired another one, dumped half of the loads and departed for Gasa leaving five of them behind accompanied by the team leader.  We were to send the truck back to pick them up.On the way I realized I had in fact left my sun glass in Thongchudrak while playing with those mastiff puppies. Whoever found it, I hope she/he is taking a good care of it, because it was my favorite. 

The first bridge past Thongchudrak

Gem Thsering's left knee gave him a problem but he managed

Serene Mochu, sometimes

One of 3 wooden bridges built by Army
Our Pattaya beach
Caught Ashim Lhamu and others
Acho faced the camera on a right click
Had to walk past to catch others
Ponies did their best
Caught the other group of our folks
Caught them, Ashim Ching ching and ata Sonam
Past I went
Mochu trickling
Koina - 1 (P.S guess what did I cut in the pic?)

Koina - 2 (Guess whats ashim Ching Ching hiding? LOL)
Over Koina bridge

White Pony

Our highlander friend/host/guide - Parasite

By then I had learned how to, "Awwwwww aww awwww"
Far down below Acho Penjor was leading Menda, ashim Chim and ata Dorji
Little did they rest, I saw from my telephoto lens
Yes, its 28 KM from Gasa Tshachu to Ponjugang

Settled well in my friend Dr. Wangchuk’s quarter at 5.30 pm, in Gasa. A few of our guys wanted to go Tshachu with Sangay Khandu but sadly his car’s wheels were jammed. Tried everything in our capacity to make it free and it won’t budge. I started receiving calls from our folks up in the jungle asking about the truck, worried like anything if it was at all coming, since it’s getting dark now. I did a rough calculation and reassured them it will be up any time now and by 7.30pm they will reach Gasa, by any means. Quite assured and relaxed they were, so were we; because we could manage to make at least one rear wheel rotate. Sangay put on 3G and started surfing net, aue Penjor would try hitting with a hammer and when finally we could see the headlight beam of our folks coming from Ponjugang just near by, Dr. Tenzin’s left kick fixed the entire wheel jamming problem. Everyone was tired and decided to go Tshachu after dinner. Our ladies had dinner served.

Folks fixing Sangay Khandu's car surfing net,
it took 2 hours to free those jammed  wheels

It was during dinner acho Karma T. and ata Dorji spoke of spotting a bear near Ponjugang. And later we concluded that our lost baggage was stolen by bears when we had all our bags piled up underneath the huge tree, as we waited for our ponies to arrive, on the second night. The night when four of us slept in a military tent like logs, and thank goodness they didn't pay a visit to us...............The lost bag contained dried fish.

Off to Tshachu we headed at 9pm. Dorji was sick and he did not want to go. Soaked in for two hours and when we were back home it was 12am. Menda was fast asleep but some of us had some noodles before going to bed. It was a tiring day for all of us, we crashed like babies.