Bhutan photos – fully Flickred (finally!)

… all 779 of them taken on Wild Frontiers‘ Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon – Spring Festival Tour in March 2008.

You’ll find them in my Bhutan – Land of the Thunder Dragon set on Flickr.

Zshana Ng Cham: Dance of the Black Hats with Drums, Paro Tsechu

Here’s what we did, day by day:

Saturday 15 March 2008
UK – Delhi

Sunday 16 March 2008 (Photos)
Delhi – Bagdogra – Jaigaon (Hotel Anand)

Monday 17 March 2008 (Photos)
Jaigaon/Phuentsholing – Paro (Hotel Paro)

Tuesday 18 March 2008 (Photos)
Paro Festival (Hotel Paro)

Wednesday 19 March 2008 (Photos)
Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) trek – Thimphu (Pedling Hotel)

Thursday 20 March 2008 (Photos)
Thimphu: Folk Heritage Museum – National Institute for Zorig Chusum – National Textile Museum – 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival rehearsal – Motithang Takin Preserve – Post Office and Bank of Bhutan – shopping (Pedling Hotel)

Friday 21 March 2008 (Photos)
Thimphu – Huntsho Community Primary School – Dochu La Pass (3116m) – Lobesa – Wangdue Phodrang dzong and town (Dragon’s Nest Resort)

Saturday 22 March 2008 (Photos)
Wangdue Phodrang – Khuruthang Goemba – Khamsum Yuly/Yuelley Namgyal Chorten and Mo Chhu river valley walk – Punakha dzong – Lobesa farmhouse and family – Wangdue Phodrang (Dragon’s Nest Resort)

Sunday 23 March 2008 (Photos)
Wangdue Phodrang bazaar – Pele La pass (3420m) – Chendebji chorten – Trongsa dzong – Zungney village textile shops – Bumthang valley – Jakar (Lodge Rinchenling)

Monday 24 March 2008 (Photos)
Jakar – Chokhor valley walk (Jampey Lhakhang – Kurjey Lhakhang – Polling station – Tamshing Goemba) – Wangdichholing dzong – Yoser Lham shop (aka the Swiss farm shop) – Jakar town – Hot stone bath – Jakar (Lodge Rinchenling)

Tuesday 25 March 2008 (Photos)
Jakar – Shertang La pass (3590m) – Ura village – Thrumshing La pass (3750m) – Langur monkeys – Mongar (Wangchuk hotel)

Wednesday 26 March 2008 (Photos)
Mongar – Kori La pass (2400m) – Yadi – lemongrass distillation “plant” – Trashigang town and dzong – Rangjung town and Monpa or Brokpa ladies, local weaving – Bonfire and Quiz – Rangjung (Rangjung monastery guesthouse)

Thursday 27 March 2008 (Photos)
Rangjung – Thakcho Kunzang Choeden Anim nunnery – Radi valley walk (Khardung – fern-headed man – Khuru contest – weaving – farmhouse lunch) – Rangjung (Rangjung monastery guesthouse)

Friday 28 March 2008 (Photos)
Rangjung – Trashigang – National Handloom Development Project, Khaling – Samdrup Jongkhar – Guwahati (Dynasty Hotel)

Saturday 29 March 2008 (Photos)
Guwahati – Kolkata: Victoria Memorial / St Paul’s Cathedral / market – Kolkata (Tollygunge Club)

Sunday 30 March 2008
Kolkata – UK

Other photos from the trip
David’s photos on Webshots
Maggie’s photos on Flickr
Hazel’s photos on Flickr

Next on the photo list: dad’s 70th birthday dinner in Broadway (only four months after the event…)

The mammoth Bhutan-photo-a-thon begins
Back from Bhutan
Uh oh, here we go again….
Bhutan – preparation and packing
Land of the Thunder Dragon Spring Festival Tour: booked!

The mammoth Bhutan-photo-a-thon begins

Having spent last Saturday and yesterday shrinking and rotating my only-just-less-than 1000 photos taken on the Land of the Thunder Dragon trip, I’m now starting to work my way through them, adding highlights to my Land of the Thunder Dragon set on Flickr.

I may be some time.

What you see so far is days 1, 2 and 3….. most of which were spent getting to Bhutan.

Day 4 we spent at the Paro festival where I took a bazillion photos of whirling dancers and Bhutanese dressed in their best togs …. and day 5 featured the fantastic Tiger’s Nest monastery trek and is almost as bad in terms of the number of photos I took.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for Phil to buy me another 2GB memory card in anticipation of my Central Asia trip this autumn ….

It may be tricky adding my photos to the Flickr Map mind you:

Screenshot of the Flickr Organizer map of Bhutan for the journey from Phuentsoling to Paro
Screenshot of the Flickr Organizer map of Bhutan for the journey from Phuentsoling to Paro

Paro is somewhere around here – to the West of Thimpu and North East of Haa:

Screenshot of the Flickr Organizer map of Bhutan for the journey from Paro (which has the main airport) to Thimpu (the capital)
Screenshot of the Flickr Organizer map of Bhutan for the journey from Paro (which has the main airport) to Thimpu (the capital)

(06 July 2008: photos fully Flickred: Bhutan – Land of the Thunder Dragon)

Back from Bhutan

Tired, but a great trip – although I wouldn’t rate it as highly as the Hindu Kush Adventure or Iran trips – Bhutan doesn’t quite have the same edge. Plus there was a lot of driving in India at the end, and the Tolly Gunge Club didn’t really provide the ‘high note’ finale. It felt altogether too worldly and self important after a fortnight up in the mountains and high pastures.

Days 4 and 5 were the highlights for me, featuring the Paro festival and the hike up to the Tiger’s Nest. We were there during the country’s first democratic elections, which was fascinating, and I returned with a commemorative calendar, prepared in advance of the Fifth King’s coronation (due to happen this year – no one knows when!) and lots of woven baskets. Oh, and a taste for cheese and chilli dishes, plus a developing daily G+T habit…..!

Returning home to BJH via the ‘new’ St Pancras International has added somewhat to the out of body experience resulting from our 90 minute nap prior to driving across Kolkata to check in (early) for our 4.45am flight, which kept ahead of the dawn all the way back west to London Heathrow. I was a bit of disgruntled ‘customer’ even before we got to the airport. Still, the glamour of St Pancras and a mezze lunch Au Pain Quotidien with Phil, Paul and Jahraj sorted me out!

Work tomorrow. I’m taking my Kings of Bhutan commemorative calendar in for moral support.

(06 July 2008: photos fully Flickred: Bhutan – Land of the Thunder Dragon)

Uh oh, here we go again….

… my track record of unwittingly foreshadowing unrest and/or international incidents on my travels seems to be continuing unblemished…… and I thought Bhutan was meant to be a peaceful place!

March 2008 – Bhutan: “2008 January and February – A string of bomb blasts hits the country ahead of elections set for March 24. The attacks are blamed on groups fighting for the rights of ethnic Nepalis exiled in 1991.” (BBC Country Profile – Timeline: Bhutan) ‘Maoists killed’ by Bhutan police (BBC news)
April/May 2007 – Iran: “2007 March – Diplomatic stand-off with Britain after Iran detains 15 British sailors and marines patrolling the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway separating Iran and Iraq. 2007 April – President Ahmadinejad says Iran can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.” (BBC Country Profile – Timeline: Iran)
October 2006 – Pakistan: “Raid on an Islamic seminary in the tribal area of Bajaur bordering Afghanistan kills up to 80 people, sparking anti-government protests. The army says the madrassa was a training camp for militants.” (BBC Country Profile – Timeline: Pakistan)
January/February 2005 – Nepal: “King Gyanendra dismisses Prime Minister Deuba and his government, declares a state of emergency and assumes direct power, citing the need to defeat Maoist rebels.” (BBC Country Profile – Timeline: Nepal)

Maybe I should add flak jacket to my birthday list……

Bhutan – preparation and packing

OK OK, so it’s a week premature, but for me part of the enjoyment of a trip is in the preparation, the anticipation and the packing! The rucksack is down from the top of the wardrobe and the things to take are piling up on the spare bed…. so I thought I’d share my preparation and packing list:

insurance Policy
(+ photocopies to passport identity page, Indian visa page and tickets)

India visa: multi entry tourist visa – in advance [done – thanks Hazel!]
Bhutan visa: 2 passport size photos and $20 cash (visa issued at the border)

Health etc
International Certificate of Vaccination
Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A [tick]

Personal first aid kit:
cotton gauzes
surgical tape
antiseptic cream
antihistamine cream
Immodium / rehydration sachets
mosquito repellent
vitamin B tablets

cash: mixture of pounds sterling and US dollars
traveller’s cheques
debit card

Exchange rates:
At today’s (tourist, cash) rate 100 Nu (Bhutan Ngultrum) = £1.24
1 Bhutan Ngultrum = 1 Indian Rupee
FXCheatSheet for Travelers

money belt
plastic carrier bags
travel kitty wallet

novel – flight out
novel – flight back
novel – spare (x2?)

Clothes etc
3 pairs of trousers
2 light cotton shirts
2 T-shirts
1 long sleeved T-shirt
1 long sleeved cotton top
1 light woollen jumper
1 hooded cardigan
underwear (16 days)
swimming costume

sun hat
sunscreen & lipsalve & aftersun/moisturiser

1 warm jacket
waterproof jacket

1 pair of trekking boots
1 pair flip flops

silk sheet sleeping bag
toothbrush & toothpaste
shampoo & conditioner & intensive conditioner
shower gel
hair brush and comb
hair bands and hair clip
antiseptic handwash
small packs of tissues and wet wipes
loo roll
washing up gloves
washing powder
universal sink plug
Swiss Army knife
sewing kit
watch with alarm
ear plugs

other treats
photos of home
notebook and pen(s)
moo cards

camera, cables, battery recharger unit
plug adapter
spare battery
additional memory