Bhutan Hidden Kingdom

Day 08 (2-4) - Monday, November 04, 2019 - Full Day Overland to Gangtey; Stop at Dochula; Visit Rinchengang for Masonry; Campsite Orientation Walk

Our morning began early with our bags out at 6:30 and departure was at 8:00. The sun was bright and the temperature was 37 degrees with a slight breeze.

The luggage was loaded into a small Mahindra truck, (made in India) that Jamyang drove ahead to our campsite. As we climbed out of the Thimphu Valley, Wangdi presented an interesting history of the kingdom.

The written chronicle of Bhutan begins only in the 17th century. Before that time only oral stories were handed down, generation to generation. In 1972 outsiders were able to visit for the first time. Since 1974 hydroelectric production helped to bring prosperity to the kingdom. Bhutan sells electricity to many surrounding countries.

Yenten, our driver, negotiated the winding roads and as we climbed higher, we saw more and more prayer flags blowing in the wind. We made a serendipitous stop to observe a family doing a cremation ritual. Wangdi explained the ceremony and the prayers that are carried on the winds.

At 9:00 we stopped at Dochula Pass, a mountain summit at 10,224 feet. We climbed to the top to take photos and see the 108 chortens (Buddhist stupas) and prayer flags. There were incredible panoramic views of the Himalayas even with the clouds gathering.

Back on the bus we had another 2-hour drive to Rinchengang, a village noted for its mud brick masonry. As we descended into the valley, we made a brief stop where women were selling vegetables along the roadway. Wangdi bought us a small piece of roasted corn.

The starting point for our morning hike was at the entrance of the tiny village of Rinchengang. As we climbed the rocky steps, we visited with several ladies who were winnowing, blowing the dust from the rice. There was no wind and the temperature was about 82 degrees.

Yenten met us at the end of our hike and took us to a local restaurant in Wangdue. The lunch was served family style; we were all able to try more Bhutanese cuisine. When Vic tried the chili cheese, smoke billowed from his ears!

At 12:45 we continued on the remainder of our two-hour drive to our campsite. The afternoon rest stop was at Nobding to use the rest rooms, take a few photos, and stretch our legs.

To help pass the time, Wangdi asked us to share our experiences from the Home Hosted dinner. We agreed that the experience was a wonderful opportunity to be able to learn more about family life.

The highest elevation on our drive was at Lawala Pass at 10,824 feet. After our descent into the Phobjikha Valley, we arrived at our campsite in Gangtey about 4:15pm.

Phobjikha Valley is a huge glacial valley where farmers grew potatoes and other winter vegetables, like turnips and buckwheat. The farmers also raise cattle, yaks, and horses. The valley is the winter home of the black-necked crane.

The OAT campsite was remarkable. Situated in a level field, there were about 16 large tents with permanent common buildings. A young woman offered us apple spiced tea and a kind of hard biscuit. We learned a little about the camp and then another of the camp crew took us to our tent where our luggage was waiting for us.

Although the dining area was heated, it was 40 degrees and raining. There was electricity in all areas and the paths had lanterns to light the way to various locations.

Calling our lodging a tent does not do it justice. It has a solid concrete carpeted floor with electricity, a heater, and our own bathroom with a Western toilet and a shower.

Dinner was in the Dining Hall at 6:30. When we went out we found an umbrella – so thoughtful of our camp crew as it was raining hard. Another delicious meal was served family style so we could choose the portion size perfect for each of us.

After dinner we came home to our tent and began our nightly ritual of preparing the journal. Fortunately, our tent was close to the Internet router so our connection was acceptable to post the journal.

Tomorrow’s goal is to spot the endangered black neck cranes. Wish us luck!

Meals included: B, L, & D

Accommodations: O.A.T. Tented Camp, Phobjikha Valley, Gangtey, Bhutan

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Overseas Adventure Travel:
Bhutan Hidden Kingdom
Phuntsho Wangdi


Another interesting day!!! I thought we were in the clouds when Vic was eating the chili cheese. Now I learn it was smoke coming out. LOL I have never seen black necked cranes, but I looked them up. How fascinating!! Stay safe and warm.

Pat   November 4, 2019 - 12:32pm

So fascinating and the pictures are wonderful! Love.

Dee   November 4, 2019 - 10:30am

Said my comment didn't go through, try again. Amazing, received your journal and e-mail in just minutes. I enjoy the satellite view, and of course your descriptive journal and pictures.

Norma   November 4, 2019 - 9:05am
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Dochula Pass

Dochula Pass

Roadside Vegetable Stands

Roadside Vegetable Stands

Terraced Rice Fields

Terraced Rice Fields

Chili at Nobding Rest Stop

Chili at Nobding Rest Stop

Tented Camp by Marleen O'Leary

Tented Camp by Marleen O'Leary

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