Oh My God. Was my first thought.Oh my god. How stunning is this place? Panoramic view of the Himalayas. Clean Air. No Alcohol. No drugs. No smoking. What, no smoking? you are kidding me?!
Prayer flags. Beautiful.
True. Bhutan is as natural and organic as it gets. They don't eat meat. Fabulous I thought, that means we ain't got to kill anything! what a result! I was chuffed.
From the minute we walked off the plane, I knew it would be here that I would loose it. It is so fucking cliche when people say to you "when you go travelling, you really find yourself!" but gobble me up and spit me out, is it true.
We arrived in Bhutan at 1030am and were 2,000 feet up in the thick of Himalayan mountains and fresh air. Once we found our resting place, I became overwhelmed and began to cry. I walked away from the others as I didn't want to get upset around them, but Brian came after me. We talked for ages and he really helped me out. He made sense of things in my head. He was brilliant. I knew it would be hard here, as it would be wrong to go to such a spiritual place and feel very little. And that was what Bhutan was. Spiritual. It was here that I felt it inside. The place just does something indescribable to you. No matter how you try to control it, it catches up on you, and wins.
On 22/10/07 we were well on our way to Tronsa. We stopped at the highest point on the mountain where there was 108 chortens-Buddhist shrines. We were told to walk around it 3 times, as it is said to do so would give you prosperity and good fortune in coming times. We carried on travelling through the stunning landscape and were soon to play Archery with our Bhutanese comrades that we had met earlier on. Claire was fantastic, I was total shit. But it was excellent fun, and Claire actually hit the target-target was 150 metres away and so small. Amazing she was.
It is a trekkers paradise! We trekked up to Tigers Nest Monastery in traditional dress with our fellow Bhutanese pilgrims. Here, we met the Bhutanese monks and briefly experienced their way of living. Of course, it was such a cultural difference.
On 23/10/07 we began our first big trek. We started at UGENCHOLING and were heading for NEANGUIAKHANG-a place which I wouldn't even try to pronounce. It was at 2,800 metres up and we trekked up to 3650 metres which actually works out to be roughly 12,000 feet. This was the hardest day so far for me since we left sunny England. It took us 9 and a half hours and Dave and I ended up walking together as Leo, Brian and Bruno had gone on ahead. Claire was some 2 hours behind which was awful as I wanted to wait, but felt I had to push my endurance to the max. It was all pretty much up hill and extremely steep. I am so grateful to Dave because after just 40 minutes, I broke down as carrying a third of my body weight on my back was proving near on impossible. I was beginning to feel that I was near to the end of this journey. That I couldn't go on. Thankfully, with Dave beside me encouraging me, I pulled myself together and pursued. A few hours on, the tables reversed and Dave needed to stop. Within 2 minutes we both stopped. 2 minutes start, 2 minutes stop. It was like we were in some sort of fucking marathon training. It had got to the point where Dave and I were both gagging cos we were so fucked. Dave actually went a worrying white colour at one point, and with no medic around I was pleading with him not to pass out on me. But Dave being Dave, determined as he was, got through it. With every step, the pain increased, with every step, it got steeper, and steeper. With some time and agonising pain, we eventually could see the top. No idea how happy we were, we both stopped and had a fag!!!!! We were both so proud, we pushed ourselves ultimately, physically and mentally. Tears were shed and blisters were formed, aching limbs and sweaty stinking clothes, but we made it.
On 25/10/07 we had a smaller trek. Man alive. I couldn't actually feel my feet! It was OK though as it was flat all the way, no more hills!!! I write in my diary that it was so nice because we all got to walk together with our Bhutanese comrades, or pilgrims. One of which, Kezang, lovely girl was 21 the night before! We were soon told that we would be attending a fire festival. It sounds dangerous I thought, probably will be...... LOVE IT!
After 3 days of trekking, what felt like a month, we'd finished. The hardcore, never ending trek was over. And the relief was unreal. Next stop, fire festival. Hmmm, curious.
The fire festival started at 9pm and we all went in our traditional dress that we had fitted on the first couple of days being in Bhutan. The Bhutanese girls decided it would be a good idea to put makeup on me, but no fucker told me how much I on. I looked in the mirror and looked like something out of the Rocky Horror show. It was hideous. Fire festival was indeed dangerous, mental, electric, crazy arsed Bhutanese people going mad running through a mass of fur on fire. I think I was, if anything a bit anxious, I didn't mind to much, I think I had an advantage as I'm so small. That's an interesting point actually, the Bhutanese are all quite small, and Brian is really tall.....They should cater these fire lighting arch way things for all heights. Brian was fine, but even so.....
Bhutan goes on and on and on in my diaries, so I cant write too much more. I could but to break it down is difficult in this short space. All I know is that Bhutan made me. It broke me and transformed me, and then made me again. Its weird. It is the most life changing place we went to and gave me a bigger, wider out look on my life. NZ triggered it, Bhutan set it off. An incredible place on this earth, I was lucky enough to go there with incredible people. All of them.