Bhutan Day 7 – Bumthang to Gangtey

[Here is the photostream of Bhutan 2013 Day 7, for those who prefer pictures to tell a story. 🙂]

Different breakfast everyday

Different breakfast everyday

Breakfast today was rice porridge with cheese (slightly salty taste to it and quite smooth, nice!), brown bread (slightly dense, but not as dense as the pancakes), white toast, Greek yoghurt (sour) and fried eggs (difference between fried eggs and omelette here seems to be that fried eggs have runny yolk while omelette are fully cooked with the yolk and egg white slightly mixed together). Gotta say that the food here was the best we had out of the 3 hotels and we had something different each day 🙂

Taa Dzong

Taa Dzong

We bade farewell to Bumthang and began our 2 hours plus drive to Trongsa Dzong, where we visited the Trongsa Museum or Taa Dzong, which we missed when we first visited the Dzong. The museum was located in a watch tower and had many artifacts from the past. Dorji patiently explained each item to us, and we also watched a short video on the history of Trongsa.

Spicy sweets?

Spicy sweets?

After that was another long drive where we finally stopped for lunch around 13:30. Very cold! Lunch was something different, with some kind of Indian crackers, shitake mushrooms, sweet and sour chicken (quite tough to bite), fried cauliflower (very delicious) and spinach (bitter), as well as white rice. There were a variety of tea on display, so I got myself a cup of green tea 🙂 Dessert was oranges and sweets, and there was an interesting spicy guava flavour which I got Dorji and Milan to try too… :p

It took us another hour to finally reach Gangtey and by then, it was too late to do hiking. We went to visit Gangtey Monastery, which is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, and the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition. We got to see some men in action on the monastery grounds building structures for the prayer wheels to go around the temple. They would use pencil and ruler for marking on the timber and then chop off (not saw off) the additional wood in a very quick and accurate manner, very impressive!

This was the temple with the coldest floor which we had encountered so far, and our toes were freezing despite the socks. It was so cold, I couldn’t really pay much attention to what Dorji was explaining.. toe to brain total freeze!

Very big courtyard

Very big courtyard

Impressive woodwork!

Impressive woodwork!

Very nice architecture

Very nice architecture

While walking out, we spotted a house that was being built halfway, and Dorji explained to us that it was the women who would pound mud into the walls using a square structure, (thus the 4 cubiod shapes in the wall), while the men would do the carpentry for the windows and doors. When the main door is put in place, there would be a small celebration. When the roof is finally in place, there would be a big celebration and rituals would be done to place the house flag at the top of the roof. We really enjoyed these nuggets of information which Dorji would share along the way. He was really knowledgeable and attentive! But of course, due to brain freeze, we forgot to take a picture of the house…. by the time I remembered, we were already in the car and on the way to see black-necked cranes.

Mischievous cows

Mischievous cows

Along the way, we saw a few cows stealing food from a truck :p It must have been us stopping to take photos of the cow that finally caught the attention of the owner who ran out to chase and scold the cows 😛

The Crane Information Centre was closed for renovations, and we saw 2 poor ladies manning the binoculars in the cold, with a small bonfire nearby. As they looked like they were packing up already, we headed to a nearby restaurant for tea break and to do some crane watching. On the other hand, the guide of the other couple, whom we met a few times along the way today, loudly announced that there were no cranes, and brought the couple straight to the hotel.

Unfortunately for us, the black-necked cranes did not come too near the restaurant, but we did see clusters of the cranes and also some flying ones. The crackers served at the restaurant tasted like chicken-in-a-biscuit, very delicious! After a while, we headed for our hotel as it was getting quite late…

Yummy biscuits

Yummy biscuits

We saw falling snow as we arrived at Hotel Dewachen… a grand total of 2 snowflakes… haha! I wanted to stay outside a bit longer, but the staff had already arrived with hot towels (with a hint of lemongrass) for us to freshen up. So off we went into the hotel to enjoy the warmth of the very huge fireplace, and more chicken-in-a-biscuit kind of crackers… yummy! Dorji was also explaining to us about the different types of wood. Oak burns slower as the wood is harder, while pine wood burns very fast as it is soft, and more useful as timber for building houses…. which also meant that the houses can burn down faster too 😮

We were staying at a corner, Room 116. The fireplace was small and rectangular in shape, with a huge metal container filled with water on top, not sure what that was for. The room came with lots of amenities, including toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, soap, shower cap, comb and even sewing kit! There was no electric heater, and it seemed that there was only 1 main switch for all the lights in the room, so it was a all or nothing kind of situation. The bathroom had a different switch and strangely, no lights at the shower area, and even stranger, the windows at the shower area did not have curtains and were at chest level. Since we were on the first floor, this meant that we had a great view of the fields, and whoever in the fields could also have a great view of people showering I supposed 😮

Dinner was served early at 18:00, and the food appeared slightly more atas. The plates were kept warm, and the noodle soup was excellent! The long noodles were quite soft to bite, and was not dense. The cubes that we thought was tofu, turned out to be cheese cubes that were quite light. The soup had a slight ginger taste to it, perfect for warming us up.

There were also white rice, stir fried tri colour pasta (fusilli), roasted chicken with dark soy sauce (there were actually drumsticks and thigh meat, quite rare since we usually only get breast meat), mixed vegetables with sesame oil, jelly mushroom with cheese (aka black fungus, very cheesy), oyster fried cabbage, ezay (aka spicy Bhutanese pickles, went very well with the dishes) and some super duper sweet Indian sweet as dessert, which we both skipped.

Dorji came by around 18:40 and we chatted for an hour or so, discussing on chilli, education, etc. He also helped to get a staff to demonstrate how to set up the fire. Here, they throw in wood shavings soaked in kerosene, then throw in the burnung matchstick and the wood shavings would burst into flames immediately! Then throw in a few logs and the fire would keep going for 40-60 min. Quite dangerous I think! By the time we got back to our room, the staff had also filled up the hot water bottles and kept them tuck in the bed to warm the bed, as well as replenished the wood shavings and logs.

So I enjoyed a cup of ginger tea by the fire and when I wanted to help hubby sew some buttons, I discovered that the sewing kit was actually empty! Duh!

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