July 22, 2014

Summer ‘Break’ Journey to Paro

Every summer from 1st to the 15th of July is the summer vacation for all the schools in Bhutan. Students and teachers alike look forward to this respite in-between the hectic schooling which takes almost nine months of the year.

This year I was called in to attend a leadership workshop at Wangduechholing School, a mere 10 minutes drive from Jakar. The workshop itself was enriching, with many interactive sessions with the participants and the resource persons. And to top that I met many long lost friends in whose company I spent quality time. Leki Tshering, Chimmi Tshering, Kinley Wangchuk…and many more friends with whom I spent wonderful memorable moments …in Samtse, Orong, Gaselo. The five-day workshop ended on the 5th Evening.

The next day I had to travel to Paro, at the national scout centre, where the 4th Rovers Adventure Camp was in session. I had volunteered to help in it and my other volunteer friends had already joined on the 2nd. I was able to start from Bumthang only at 9 in the morning…blame it on world cup match and a hangover in the morning. With a quick breakfast at Trongsa Hotel (which is near the bus parking in Chamkhar town) we bid adieu to Kinley. He was travelling to Tang while Chimmi and I were to be travelling together till Wangduephodrang. Leki had already left for Kurje Lhakhang the previous night.

The journey from Bumthang was tiring and long. I tried my best to keep the speedometer above sixty but in most places I had to compromise speed for safety. Chimmi had a hard time keeping up with me, but we entered Trongsa together. At The Oyster House (a fancy name for a restaurant in Trongsa town) we had beef ribs and red rice…although it was still too early for lunch. From there the journey was pretty monotonous…with me trying to burn rubber and Chimmi trying to keep up. But he did manage to catch up to me at Wangdue bridge. We had tea at BOD canteen (I had iced tea…I think he had beer or whisky…I’m not even sure), and we parted company. He was to travel to Gaselo while I had to reach to Paro, as I had given my word that I would reach that night.

With a brief stint in Lobesa…I reached Thimphu at 7:30 pm. After meeting with my wife and sisters I started towards Paro. By now I was really drowsy. I was alone and my cell phone battery was at 4%. Theoretically I know where Paro is, where the National Scout Center is…but in the dead of the night…among the darkness, Paro valley looked alien to me. I had come here only once before, that also some seven years ago. And tonight… Paro was foreign to me.

In the dead of the night I took a road which I assumed to lead to NIE gate (from where I was supposed to take a detour and climb uphill towards Uma resort area). That part of the trip was scary, as the houses started vanishing and the jungles started to thicken. I turned up the volume of the stereo and blasted away the fright and sleep as I still climbed much higher. Finally as the paved road ended I saw a banner of the camp. I breathed a sigh of relief and pushed my way up the grime and slime and finally reached the campsite.
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