Sunday, December 5, 2010
WALKING IN ZHEMGANG BEFORE ROADS TAKE OVER
There were fifteen of us who started the trip to Zhemgang on the morning of October 23. This is my fourth trip to the Dzongkhag. But I can say that Zhemgang has a fresh story for me each time. Glancing at the travel itinerary we had seven days of walking and around three days of road journey. We had media people with us this time. We tried to be cautious of what we converse or even do for the fear that it might come out as a story in the paper. But as we become friendlier and closer day by day, we realized they were also like any another human being. The only difference was they were out looking for stories and we were out making one.
The first walking day was unexpectedly surprising especially for me when I spotted the first house just after 15 minutes of walking. That very house took us three hours the last time I visited.
The next six days followed walking strenuously up and down the mountains of Zhemgang. The frequent and the most favorite question we asked was always “how much more now”? The guys would say “just 15 minutes more” and only after hearing the 15 minutes for around 5 times or more we would see our destination. They had a way to keep us going.
The nights would be filled with songs and dances performed by local women and of course not to forget the bangchang. A cup would send me whirling so I had to limit it unless I intended to stay there. We were totally cut off from the world of mobile phones and it actually felt good for a change to listen to birds chirping and the soothing music of the streams. But as soon as our mobile signaled connectivity, everyone would get busy calling up and informing their whereabouts to their loved ones back home.
I did my part too. The funniest part was that since the connectivity was very inconstant, one was required to stand still on a spot as soon as he gets connectivity on his cell. It was a very amusing scene when you see people acting like robot trying to connect to the other side of the world. The last day of our walk was the most difficult. Nine hours of walking down hill led us (the three women) drop flat on our bed in Panbang. With blisters on each foot, sun burnt and totally tired we felt never so ugly like this before. But the experience was worth all the pain. And now as we look back, I can proudly say that I have climbed the mountains of Zhemgang which many would miss with the road development coming up fast to the villages.
PS: Business Bhutan has been kind to publish this article in their paper. Thank you