On this day, several things were scheduled. So we went on the way across the Thimphu Valley to a giant Bhudda statue situated on a hill. The 30 meter high statue was made entirely of bronze and has a huge diamond jewel between its eyes. Our guide told us that it is worth about a million euros … Madness how much money is spent on religious buildings. From a somewhat distant hill we had a great view of the Buddha statue that overlooks the city. Actually, on this hill a Geocache should be hidden, but it was unfortunately already gone.
After that we went to a Takin Preserve. Here they take care of Bhutans national animal if they are injured. Normally the Takin lives high up in the mountain but this preserve gave us the chance to see otherwise very shy, but quite aggressive animals very close … Somehow strange animals. A mixture of cow, buffalo and moose 😉
After visiting the Takin Preserve the real highlight of our stay in Bhutan was on the agenda: The Drubchen Festival. The Bhutanese celebrate usually very colorful festivals, traditional dances, songs with many colorful costumes and masks, each for itself has a special meaning in Buddhism. And we were lucky enough to witness one of the biggest festivals in Thimphu on this day. The Drubchen Festival took place in a huge Monastery ( 1/2 Monastery , 1/2 government building), on a large square in front of the holiest Buddhist of Bhutan. For each dancer, it is an honor to be allowed to perform here.
So we watched the festival, happy children playing running around, the monks themselves took photos of the festival, many locals enjoyed the atmosphere and of course, the state TV, which broadcast the show live. The special point for us was the fact that this festival only to place for the locals, very authentic and not a bit touristic. Many other attractions, festivals etc. in other countries are commercialized and are held almost exclusively for tourists. This was absolutely not the case. Funnily enough, we spoke with a clown who acted as a kind as a cheerleader, and told us that he once was in Augsburg a few years ago. Very nice!
After watching the festival in the scorching heat, we were so lucky with the weather, we drove to a local vegetable market. Since we usually ate in specially selected restaurants, this was a great opportunity, to see local ingredients, the bustle of the locals and the variety of goods offered. What did not surprise us, any dealer offered Chili, in a variety of styles and shapes. And the vegetable market was again a good proof, like on the fields in Indonesia, how „stupid“ we europeans regarding vegetables, spices and fruits are. (If you know everything only from the supermarket)
At the end of the day we were then taken to our Farmstay. Here we wanted to spend a night with a Bhutanese family and experience how the normal life of a peasant is, the houses are built and designed and how they manage their everyday life. This was certainly the most impressive experience so far! We first got to know the family consisting of 6 members, from the 2 year old child to grandma and grandpa, who all live together under one roof. The house itself was built of mud and wood, the ceiling height was only 1.80m, the door heights 1,50m … the „bedroom“ of the family – actually only 2 mattresses on the floor – was also the dining room, the toilet was however, placed outside in a small shed and the light switch at the house (very inconvenient for the night;)). Also the „bathroom“ here is exactly what it’s named. Here a bath is totally handmade. Outside in the garden was a small wooden house with two small wooden tubs (one for hot and one for cold water), which were constructed to the outside of the back of the cottage through an opening in the wall. So the fire could be behind the cottage, then large stones were placed into the fire and heated. Once these have been washed briefly they were placed directly into the bathtub. So it took us about 30 minutes and several stones until the water was really hot and we could take a really original bath. Totally awesome! We usually do not think about these normal things…just turn on the tap and get hot water … here, because of the enormous cost and effort only they bath only every 2 weeks. Because of that the heat, which is so healthy during such a long bath is much more appreciated.
After our bath in the wooden tub the dinner was almost ready. Together with grandma, mother and the two years old little daughter we were sitting in the kitchen on the ground and helped prepare our meals. A major component was of course chili and rice. For the actual dinner great-grandmother and 3 sons came by to eat. The dinner, which is eaten with the hands tasted really good (although it must be said that we had omitted the chili). To drink there was fresh spring water and buttertea. After dinner we were allowed to put on the traditional dress of the Bhutanese. With professional help of the family we were wrapped in many tissued and felt quite comfortable in the dresses. After an insanely busy and beautiful day we went to bed pretty early. The next morning we drive to Punakha, and will be picked up by our guide and driver at 7am.
Checked out our Bhutan video :)?