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A Naked Pretty Girl is Still a Naked Pretty Girl (Bhutan)

BHUTAN | Monday, 8 September 2008 | Views [72699] | Comments [14]

Day 6

Our day in Punakha was pretty relaxed. We'd been setting an ambitious pace, both physically and informationally, so this was a welcome change. Again, Tashi's experience benefitted us, and Susan and I probably would have just “pushed through it” and enjoyed ourselves less by doing more.


We did take a short hike up (which still left us gasping) to a temple, but one very different again from those we had seen before. This one was shaped like a giant Stupa, and had several levels.

When we got there, after a short but steep climb that skirted some rice fields, we met an old woman from the local farms.

Too old and vision impaired to work anymore, everyday she climbs the mountain to walk circles around the temple and pray. She was 80-something, which is really, really ancient when you have spent 70-something of those years toiling in rice fields.


The families bond together to work their fields. Everyone has “their plot” but will cooperate to plant and harvest and execute the various tasks of cultivation. From our high point we counted just under 40 people working a set of paddies that terraced an area about a square kilometer – plowing, tilling, planting (at this time of year).


Atop the stupa/temple we were treated to great views.

We were soaking up the whole thing; our second to last real day in Bhutan, the view of the Himalayan “foothills”, the bright blue sky, the green trees and brown rice paddies, standing atop a great religious site in the heart of the nation that invented the idea of “Gross National Happiness” when the monk's cell phone rang. An hour ago we were taking photos of a young man as he adjusted the yoke on his oxen; knee deep in the rice paddy. Ten seconds earlier the red-robed monk was answering our questions in the near-whisper of a tenant of holy places. Now he was yammering into his mobile at a cellphone-voice-volume that would make a New Yorker proud.


For lunch we picnicked along a river.

As we pulled up a couple of local girls were bathing. The guys teased and flirted as the girls laconically covered up and gathered their things to go home. We had a leisurely feast, lounging on rugs set upon the grass then sort of lounged by the water.

Tashi and Phubu wandered in search of rocks to play quoits. A couple of hours later we packed up, and the guys did their best to spy on the girl who was bathing but had strategically parked her car in their line of sight. Nudity doesn't have the taboo here that it does at home, but a naked pretty girl is still a naked pretty girl.


Last stop for the day was the big Dzong of this area. Once upon a time this was the capital, and it is still the winter home of the Monks who reside in summer at the main Dzong in Thimphu. To Tashi, this is the most beautiful of all the Dzong, and he is deliberate in saving it for the climax of our trip. It had also undergone a major renovation recently, a result of fire damage.


Having now seen the Art School we had a new appreciation for the detail work of these places, and this was the most ornately decorated of all. The main temple was a huge, four story chamber. The columns were clad in decorated bronze work, the walls lined with Buddas and lotus-seated scultures of deceased masters, every surface and aquare-inch of ceiling was painted with detail work. The Budda itself and the attendant Bosshisatvas, Precious Master, and Tibetan King were equally impressive in scale and artistry.


There was another group touring the Dzong as well, a bunch of Dutchmen (you see them everywhere). It was led by a friend of Tashi's, who it was later explained was a former governor of the region. He was still entitled to a special colored sash, but could no longer wear the ceremonial sword of office.


By chance we were there at the same time as a former High Lama of Bhutan, with whom we shook hands (Tashi got a blessing). We introduced ourselves and he asked where we were from. “Enjoy your stay”. Nice guy. In his entourage were the three folks from Taiwan we met at Jack and Kharma's. This really is a small country.

Back in Punakha town itself we briefly stuck our heads in at another temple. The monks were performing a ritual, but were shortly quiet again. One of them seemed uncertain about his duties, and an older monk was instructing him on the specifics of placing the offering before the altar. A young monk was then running around filling cups from which they all drank. “A holy water ceremony?” “No, afternoon tea”, explained Tashi. We got the requisite “look at the giant” smiles as we slipped back out. The grounds of the temple also held a Nepalese stule stupa, and we got a primer on the stylistic differences of the Nepalese, Tibetan, and Bhutanese stupas, all of which can be found in Bhutan.


Comments

1

very interesting blog. as i read these today, i'm realizing you guys probably have more foreign (policy) experience than Sarah Palin, the gun-toting, gay-hating tongue-speaking pentecostal (beauty queen) governor of Alaska turned Mccain running-mate. don't you miss america?

  Brian O Sep 9, 2008 9:10 AM

2

Aren't you guys supposed to be on a camping safari in Africa right now? How are you posting this? Internet oasis?

I want a (not-military) job that comes with a ceremonial sword. Though I'd take a naked pretty girl.

  Tim Sep 10, 2008 10:00 AM

3

Where's the naked pretty girl? Surely with all of the buildup in the title you guys would have thought to include a pic in the blog. ;>

Girls got your postcard from S. Africa. Can't wait to see the pix from there. Take care,

Jeff

  Jeff Sep 12, 2008 2:28 AM

4

friend, i m so impressed with what you have given in the web about your journey to our small country(Bhutan).....hope you'll visit again
Trashi delek
dawa tshering

  dawa Oct 13, 2008 5:21 PM

5

Thanks for writing about Bhutan and i am so grateful for doing grate job. Hope to contact eachother and know each other. Till then bye

  Sangay Phuentsho Feb 14, 2010 7:25 PM

6

hey i really like your block particularly this one. Bhutan is my country but i m away from rit now missing so much will be going there soon ne way....n ways thank you guys for such n nice discription abt ma country... hope you visit again.

  kencho yeshay Oct 26, 2010 9:28 PM

7

hiya... :)... The land of the thunder dragon. pretty much untouched.. :). its a simple form of mother nature. I am very glad that u guys visited Bhutan.... thank u very much indeed for visiting my country (cheers, NONO)

  Nono Oct 30, 2010 11:54 AM

8

THANKS FOR VISIT MY FATHER COUNTRY BEFORE I DON'T LIKE BHUTAN BECAUSE MY PARENT LEFT THAT COUNTRY AND I WAS BORN IN BHUTANESE REFUGEES THAT WHY I DON'T LIKE BHUTAN BUT NOW I CHANGE MY MIND SO IN FUTURE I AM SURE THAT I ALSO VISIT MY PARENT COUNTRY

  san rai Dec 17, 2010 10:40 PM

9

I know Bhutan, It`s a small coutry with nice people but the government style is hard core dictatorship which even my countryman might not have experienced during the rule of Nazis.....

  Omega Dec 27, 2010 4:03 PM

10

well really like the pix u"ve taken ...beautiful country...n indeed a great work of urs..

  nirmal belliappa Mar 4, 2011 4:25 PM

11

I believe my loyal footprints are still marked in the land of the Thunder dragon. I can still smell the dirt and feel the way I travelled for 20 years in my birth place.My friends,relatives neighbor, and the natural beauty of the country are still fresh in my mind.They are touching my heart.Every one knows that bhutan is a beautiful country.However,only a few of us know how cruel is the ruling elite.The Wangchuck Dynasty-the fourth king and his successor committed a universal crime by driving out one sixth of its total population.Who knows what their hearts are aching for?Anyway,thank you for posting this information.

  Mitra Koirala Jun 29, 2011 6:06 AM

12

I know Bhutanits a smal country very nice people.
I like Bhutanes people. Ivisit Bhutan.

Thank
Khaled,
Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  khaled bin kashem Sep 25, 2011 12:22 AM

13

i like bhutan i was their i have meny friend

  raj munda Jun 20, 2012 2:42 AM

14

Hello Susan and Lars! In first place, your blog is too nice and your definition on Bhutan(A naked Pretty Girl is still a Naked Pretty Girl) is wonderful. Yes! Bhutan is a country I should say, it's Heaven on Earth. I consider myself not just lucky to be born on this Heaven like country, but my death wish is also be that I be reborn in this Heaven like country..... The more you know about Bhutan the more you expect and I must say that every one should make a visit to Bhutan at least once and witness it and I assure that you wont regret by coming to Bhutan. So everyone is well come and feel it yourselves.

  Kinzang Wangdi Jan 29, 2014 6:31 AM

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