Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lunch in Lungchuzekha

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by friends to take a short trek to a small goenpa (monastery) above the famous 108 chhortens, at Dochula. Unfortunately, my camera was being recalcitrant, so there aren't as many pics here as I'd like, but regardless...

Arriving at the starting point, with Payal from the USA and Stan, a Polish guy now based in Singapore.  



Also joined by Sonam, Lhamo, Kezang and his son Tashi...



The beginning of the trek up, and we all noticed that someone had erased the estimated time for the walk. Hmmm...ominous?



A hundred metres up, and a last look back at the chhortens...


Actually, I lied. That was the 2nd last look back...



Already time for our first cup of tea. I could see that this wasn't going to be a rapid assault on the summit, but more of a leisurely stroll...suited me fine. I began to understand why that timing on the sign had been scratched off.



 Kezang appears to have misplaced his wallet. But I suspect that Sonam knows where it is...






Time to move on, but first...another chat among friends. It was around this time that I discarded the pitons, ropes, GPS, satellite phone and safety flares.


These man-made steps were built so that the gates could be kept closed, to prevent the yaks coming down the track. But Tashi is obviously an animal rights activist, and decided to give them a free run...




We were now gaining altitude, and the smaller rhododendron scrub began to give way to forests of hemlocks, pines, birch and cypress trees...





 And then...what a surprise! Long-lost friends! (Actually, we'd left them in the car-park below 20 minutes ago, but it felt like longer.)

So, time for a few more snaps...




And the obligatory group photo...



Kezang needed to quickly check how his shares were doing on the stock exchange, while Sonam got chatting to some western guy.


Finally, we pressed forward, onwards and ever upwards, passing some fascinating plants on the way...

Arisaema griffithii, unfurling its spectacular bottom leaves...

  
A baby tree fern, Alsophila costularis...



A magnificent Rhododendron hodgsonii, unfortunately a couple of weeks past its flowering peak, but stunning anyway.


Epiphytic orchids (Pleione praecox), growing through the moss on a large Rhododendron...



 A Himalayan birch (Betula utilis), shedding its upper bark...




And then the final push, up to the goenpa...




Sweeping views from above, but unfortunately obscured by clouds...



 Finally, lunch! We'd all brought tiffin boxes of various curries...chicken, egg (no, I don't know which came first), vegetable, salads, plus rice, dhal, chapattis and plenty of hot, sweet tea.


And then, after packing up, we retraced our steps back down the mountain. Well, actually, that's not strictly true. We took another trail and while not exactly managing to get lost, we did emerge below at an unknown road and had to call our driver to find us.

But all in all, a wonderful day on the roof of the world, with great company, magnificent scenery, full stomachs and aching legs!











4 comments:

  1. Hi there,
    I hope you won't mind me connecting via your blog. I wanted to contact you with a media query.
    I work for a major independent production company in London, called Optomen Television. We are making a new, primetime documentary series about people who have quit the rat race and moved to remote places.
    I wondered if this sounds like your own story (from Australia to Bhutan? Or whether you might know of others who have escaped the daily grind to live off-the-grid in a breath-taking part of the world?
    I'd love to hear your thoughts.
    Many thanks,
    Ruth
    ruth.overend@optomen.com
    0044 203 227 5984

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