Friday, July 31, 2015

Namling - The road that takes you close to death

If you are traveling to the Eastern Bhutan, one thing that automatically strikes your mind is the Cliff called Namling Brak. Located shortly after Sengor on the way to Mongar from Bumthang, it is the deadliest and wildest cliff of Bhutan. In fact, without passing it you cannot reach the Sharchop region (unless you travel through India).  
At an altitude of 3,000 metres, Namling is usually foggy and is very steep stretch of rocky cliff. Quite wondrously, the East-West National Highway runs through it, perhaps making it one of the world’s wildest roads.

Moreover, the road is very narrow without much roadside protection walls. The moment I look at the cliff below every hair on me stands up shrieking with fear. And that particular moment, I always feel the chill of death. You miss a step and you are spot dead. Oh, that close to death!  
Every time I travel here in the bus, I see a strange behavior among the travelers. The moment we arrive at the cliff, a complete silence ensues in the bus. The travelers take out their rosary and pray reverently. Even the drunk people come into consciousness. Seriously. They start hailing God and conjuring local deities to protect them.

For Bhutanese, Namling is known as “Death Drop” after the national tragic accident where a passenger bus fell 300 metres down the cliff in June 1998 and 58 passengers killed. After that, it has been considered as haunted and ghost-infected place. People have stories to narrate, of ghost and eerie and frightening incidents; they were scared and stopped travelling from Namling after 4 pm.  

For me, it is the longest and most frightening 10 minutes drive of my life.
However, after the horrifying drive, we come to a marvelous waterfall which falls down the cliff. As soon as the travelers spot the waterfall, they sigh in a huge relief. The waterfall falls at a stunning height of about 50 metres.

Your fear and agitation forgotten, you would just run-round in a fury of extreme excitement. It simply is an awe-inspiring spectacle to sit and watch. For ever, and ever.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Eastern Bhutan-Roadside pictures

I am so much intrigued by the beautiful valleys, rainfalls, rivers, villages and innocent people of the Eastern Bhutan. So to tell you, I have taken a lot of pictures all along my journey by the roadside, by the East-West highway. Most of the pictures were taken on moving bus and I share with you some of them here, 
An innocent young lad just starts his day to school, just begins his life

Trying to gain attraction from the passing by travelers: Lingmithang kids

Asking for lift

In-built umbrella on his head, handmade one: Rangjung

This board says it all, that you are in the east
All empty beer bottles. Sharchop can really drink
And this says it all, after you get drunk
Liquor agent...? What kind of liquor?
DTH: And this is what you get....phallus on your screen?
Coincident, but same pose: Mongar

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Eastern Bhutan-Landscape pictures

After eight years, I took a travel to the Eastern Bhutan. For this matter, I have a lot to write about the trip and journey itself. This journey is a whole lot roller coaster of reverberating memories of my past, of those times I had spent in Bumthang and Kanglung.

Visiting here, after many years, was like a beautiful nightmare to me. But most importantly, I love peace, serenity and magnificent landscapes of the Eastern Bhutan. And I am pretty sure that my pictures write it all about the journey. So here it is. 
Lingmithang, Mongar
Yathra shop, Chumey
Dangme Chu

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Living a rich life in humble way

If you are a regular visitor here, then you would know that this blogger is a walker too. As much as I love walking, I choose to write about it here on my blog.

I don’t know precisely how I picked this habit, but I have been walking considerably since long time ago. From home to office and back, to the town besides my planned evening walks. But as far as I know, I started walking when I couldn’t afford car.

Often my friends and colleagues asked me, “When are you going to buy car?"

I responded, unsure, “After I get married.”

Now I am married and I have come up with another excuse, “After I get a kid, I will.”

In Thimphu, you are expected to own a car as soon as you start working. It is supposedly to do with maintaining our social status. For those office goers and family person, it is to do with their convenience.

Simply put, without car, I struggled in Thimphu. Taxis were expensive. My bosses would give me works assuming I have car. Often the summer’s monsoon rain was thwarting, and the winter’s cold harsh. Moreover, attending a meeting or workshop was always a problem when I have to travel far away from my office.

A few years ago, I was sharing these concerns to a foreigner friend of mine. And in the meantime, I uttered that I was planning to buy a car.

My friend looked at me wide-eyed and surprised and then reacted, “Bhutan is such a beautiful country: magnificent landscape around you, fresh air, green plants all over and friendly people. Riku, you are very lucky to be born in Bhutan. Why do you want to buy car and cover yourself in a metal box?”  

It hit me hard, for that matter. After that I dropped the idea of owning a car. Instead, I started walking more and many times I declined when others have offered me lift.

It helps maintaining my good health, but much of my walking I just stop by and enjoy the nature. More than I could tell, it marvelously brings me closer to the Mother Nature. I become a part of it, part of beauty. The myriad colours of plants, the fragrance of flowers and the mystery of mountains always leave me astounded, brighter and happier.

Last week, I was hosting dinner to my close friend who just returned from his studies in India. He told me, “Bhutan itself is a five-star facility.” He explained that all that we have - fresh air, pristine forests and rivers, magnificent monasteries, stunning rural farms and undisturbed environment - are rare and precious.
“One can find these facilities only in a five-star hotel elsewhere. You have to pay for them - that too very expensive, artificial,” he continued adding, “But we (Bhutanese) don’t understand it unless we travel outside.” 

I don’t know how far I can maintain this attitude and habit. But as far as I am concerned I will try to avoid dragging myself cocooned in the metal box. Out in the open, wide and free, I will enjoy the five-star facilities walking. Like this, I will try to live my life rich with more intentions in a humble way.