We left the exquisite misty mountain views at Trongsa….and at reception our huge old-fashioned key which was attached to a fluffy teddy-bear. I couldn’t quite work out the significance of that – but it made me smile.
We had a short drive today toward Bumthang…. not much roadworks… and along really a pretty mountain and into a more open landscape. The past few days has been pretty arduous on Max because it has literally been one curve after another ….up the mountain ..down the mountain….winding every 100mts or so. We mostly stayed in second or 3rd gear with an average of about 20 or 30kms an hour. …. And it was BUMPY!!! The road-works were unrelenting and we both had to be vigilant for oncoming traffic. It is pretty full on… and sometimes I forget to watch out for the Tulip distance in my route book because I am so engrossed in watching the road. Fortunately it isn’t a competition and it is usually just following the main road.
Every moment is one of adventure, and I never know what is next. In front of us we saw Alistair stopped, and to the left were two women who were preparing the warp of their next weaving project. I gestured whether it would be ok to come and look and we were welcomed with smiles.
The smooth, round timber was slid out of the holes on the vertical gate-posts by Max; and we walked past a small area of vegetables to a concrete path where the two women were working. I sat beside one of them whilst the other pulled all the ling blue threads and rolled it tightly. I could see all the heddles had been set in the thread, ready to start weaving their intricate traditional designs.
It soon became apparent that our words were not offering any real communication – but there was much laughter in this realization. One of the ladies scurried inside and came out with some exquisite weaving and Max spoke the language of money – which WAS understood. We each purchased some beautiful hand weaving items…. directly from the weavers. It was a wonderful experience.
Descending into the valley I could see splashes of colour strung drying…skeins of wool to be used in weaving. Mats and rugs were also drying or airing over railings or lines.
The forest changed more to pines and there were several sawmills and stacks of logs for building; quite a strong timber area I think. The road became less bumpy with fewer roadworks… and there were several places where boxes of beehives were on the ground beside the large wooden family homes.
A short drive to Bumthang, lunch then to the most amazing Monastery I have ever seen. The Tamzhing Monastery was built in 1501 and has such an incredible feeling. I kept sensing there was some sort of presence to my right… and kept looking to my side. I could feel something there. It was quite beautiful though this feeling.. Not creepy or scary at all.
With the background rhythm of a drum gently pulsing, I walked in a clockwise direction – as is done in everything in Buddhism; through what seemed like rectangular walled tunnel which formed the external perimeter of a prayer/ ritual room. This dark walkway with a smooth dirt floor formed the track for pilgrims to wear a chain-mail tabard and circle three times. I’m not quite sure of the entire significance of this though.
The artwork on the walls of this dark pathway was exquisite. A unicorn. Buddha in different forms. Frescoes which told stories. I would love to go back and learn more about what the paintings and drawings represented. I felt the smooth wooden rungs of a ladder through my socks as I climber to the upper level; where once again the walls were lined with exquisite artwork.
I returned to the ritual room and wanted to feel what it was like to meditate in there. I felt myself coming to a place of silence and witnessing my random thoughts pass …and spontaneously chanted Aummmm. It felt lovely.
Back to Bumthang town to browse the handcraft shops and a quiet night with a fabulous old fashioned wooden fire stove in our room. A long day today to Mongar.