Monday, 29 March 2010

Friday 26th March

Everyone packed up early for the last 10km back to civilisation. Arrived at the trail head well in advance of our ponies who trotted in lazily an hour later. Have definitely got more relaxed over the last four months and now think nothing of waiting for an hour or two in the sun.

Drove from Paro to Thimpu. The road is cut through a gorge and clearly suffers constantly from landslides. All road repair seems to be done by hand - and mostly by women. The countryside around Thimpu is dry, the hills are brown rock, sparsely tree'd and not as attractive as Paro. Thimpu itself has larger more modern buildings as befits the capital.

Checked into the hotel - SHOWER!

In the afternoon we visited a traditional paper factory. This was an amazing process using Daphne bark to provide the pulp. We also saw Thanka painting; religious and secular motifs using natural and mineral pigments. There were lovely soft colours from lapis lazuli, ochre and malachite, mixed with cow skin glue. The workshop was busy with large commissions from various governments - Thanka seems to be all the rage. Also there were impressive woven kira, with each skirt taking up to 6 months to make.

Next stop fruit and veg market where they sell chillis like potatoes - by the kilo. Also incense powder, yak cheese, fern fronds and lots of lovely asparagus. Hoping for another feast when we get home. Also checked out the local flea market with a great selection of "genuine antiquities", yak tail dusters, fish padlocks and cheap Indian imported clothing. Even in the markets there's no hustling which is very pleasant.

We enjoyed not squatting on the ground for dinner and having a bed to sleep in!

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