Day 9

Bus noises and the crackling of the fire greet me at 6:30 am. There was no dog choir last night and I was quite snug and comfy. I’m even getting used to extra firm when it comes to a mattress. The hideous bathroom just seems to get worse but Jaim Yong continues to try to make us as comfy as possible. Again there is warm water waiting for us and of course there is morning tea. This is  just ordinary tea that I keep having. I had read about butter tea before coming here but as much as I am game to try it, I have a slight wince thinking of what I think is slightly rancid yak butter in tea. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I will have a chance to try it before I leave this country.

There is a light fog over the valley this morning, but by the time we have finished breakfast it has dissipated.

Jaim Yong is coordinating our departure for Thimphu with the schedule for road closures that allows for construction and what appears to be a process of ongoing repairs.  This should minimize our wait times on route. Being ever the optimist, I had assumed we might go back to Thimphu via a route other than the one we came on. This was largely based on wishful thinking as I was really hoping for something other than a repeat of that hair-raising trip. But I experience a distinct gut wrenching when I look ahead and see shilouetted against the blue sky, the two trees and the prayer flags that mark the pass that we came through on our way to the Phobjika Valley.   My head screams…OMG, not that road again!

untitled-9287untitledThe twists and turns are not any less intimidating now that I understand what is ahead.   It is just plain suicidal to march into the fray once again, but here we go! Traffic is building and as our timing is a bit off we get out and walk down one of the first hills to avoid having to wait in the car for the road to open. We pass an entire wall of water falls. My mind wonders what this is doing to the cliff. Just when will it descend on the road with the sound of thunder?

untitled-9294untitledAs we move through the areas that are under construction, the dust clouds, become storms and the visibility is reduced to near zero. We are in a dust blizzard on a narrow mountain road composed primarily of one blind curve after another. The dappled light on the dusty windscreen really helps too. How much better could it get?

Well, just for fun, the overloaded Tata trucks honk and overtake us. untitled-9296untitledThey bear colourful signs that say things like “ Good Luck” and “So far so good”.  A heavy equipment shovel is in the procession headed down hill. The landscape is so rugged, and the road so in need of repair that my mind screams “Why…they will need it here forever!”

It’s probably not accidental that the mile markers are shaped like tombstones! Around the next curve the cell phone users are wandering along with the cattle and both seem oblivious to the traffic.untitled-9291untitled

And then there are our first Yaks!untitled-9297untitled

untitled-9305untitledOnce again, and more quickly than I would have anticipated the Queen Mother’s Memorial Chortens comes into view. The woods are alive with coloured prayer flags.untitled-9317untitled And then we go , down, down, down into Thimphu to a hotel with hot and cold running water and the best toilet I have seen in days. YES!