Sunday, July 14, 2013

Small Moments

It's hard to really tell you what it's like, traveling.  There are all these little things that happen along the way, and you can't always make a whole post out of them, or fit them in with another one.  These aren't the highlights of the trip, but they help turn it from just rushing from place to place into an experience.
For example, on the way out to Drukgyel Dzong the first day, we saw some archers practicing, and we stopped and watched them for a while.  Sree told me a little about Bhutanese archery, and I was interested to see them using modern bows, since the Mongolians use traditional ones.  The last day of the trip, we passed a friendly match between customs officials and taxi drivers - it's that sort of country - and I got to take this video of the dance they do when someone hits the target.
Buildings here are already so well-decorated that I didn't expect to see street art in Bhutan, but I found some nevertheless (there's another photo on my Gross National Happiness post).
Also, I think Jeep may have grounds for some sort of copyright infringement lawsuit.  Wagonr?  That sounds vaguely familiar...where have I heard something like that before???
I was really looking forward to seeing some traditional handicrafts in Bhutan.  Unfortunately I have the worst timing ever, in a lot of respects.  Turns out that the art schools in Bhutan are on holiday right now, too.  However, I did get to see a hand-made paper workshop (I bought a beautiful piece of this paper, but I left it in the damn Lhasa airport.  Have I mentioned how much I hate the screwy immigration process on the way back from Kathmandu, or is that still to come?) and some backstrap weaving, which is one of those arts that to this day I still don't fully understand.  How they make the designs is pretty much magic to me.
Finally, if you know me you know I love a good bath.  From the jjimjjilbangs of Korea to the hamams of Turkey, I've tried a few in my day.  But the traditional stone bath I had on my last day in Bhutan was something new and different.

The water doesn't start out hot, I don't think.  They heat stones in a fire, and then add them to the water, which is what makes it hot.  They also put some sort of leaves to it that adds a gorgeous smell.  I asked Sree what it was, and she told me, but I can't remember the name of it.  The tub is a lot deeper than it looks...I was afraid I was going to be crammed into the thing, but there was actually plenty of room.  After a nice soak we ate a traditional dinner in the farmhouse, sitting on the floor.  The food was delicious and it was great to experience how people live, but I did have to sit though a meal with this Canadian douche who acted so offended that Sree thought he was American.  No offense to my Canadian friends, of course - the objectionable thing was his personality, not his reaction to being thought American.

Oh, and one last thing, and unfortunately I don't have a picture, but there's a little bakery on the main drag of Paro called the Cafe Brioche.  They make the most amazing cupcakes.  If you've been living in Asia as long as I have and are dying for a nice cupcake, you have GOT to give them a try.

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