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Showing posts from November, 2015

Fin

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The final push to Guwahati should have been a straightforward affair. It was, for most crews, but José and Maria lost their electrics just outside the campsite. Luckily, the fix did not take too long and they were soon on their way to the Indian border.


We went through the Bhutanese arch and were back in the sub-continent.  Unlike Jaigon, the Indian town on our entry border, it was relatively orderly.  
The Indian immigration office is a couple of kms into India.  It consists of a small shed like building, which normally has one officer in it with a desk, chair a ledger and a pen - really.  As they knew we were coming, they had added an extra desk plus officer complete with his own ledger and a pen!  They had even out new plastic cloths on the desks for us and acquired a blue plush sofa. Both men were very jolly, however, and we were processed very quickly.  

The first part of the drive through Assam was quite beautiful.  Rice being harvested, tea gardens, lots of children going to schoo…

Going down..

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The long drop down towards the plains today was quite a roller coaster ride.  There were several small passes to negotiate, so it wasn't all down hill.  What a drive though!  Clear skies, outrageously gorgeous scenery, the usual narrow ledge roads and vertical drops, small villages and our last sightings of the snow covered, high Himalayas.


About 7kms from our orange grove, the Jaguar of Dougie and Kate Lawson had an accelerator problem. They cleverly could not have picked a more gorgeous spot to break down, it was in a picturesque hamlet, far reaching views of the snowy mountains, by a giant prayer wheel and, with a delightful bunch of local people to observe.  Charlie and Richard soon had them on their way.

In Wamrong, a small local festival was being held.  What a thrill it was to visit. It was the last day and so the giant thangka was on display and all the ritual dances were being performed in front of it.  We saw all the clowns involved in a very elaborate ceremony, which was …

Mongar Tchetsu!

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What a rest day we all had in Mongar.  The annual festival is a very important time for the local people who come from miles around all dressed in their very best clothes. The rally crews were determined to look their best and, out of respect for the traditions of Bhutan, we too all wore national dress.  Never, ever can there have been a smarter and more colourful rally family.









The festival has deep significance in the religion and local culture of Bhutans  inhabitants.  The spiritual dances are performed by monks, in a variety of astonishing masks and vivid costumes.  Very few foreigners get to witness the Eastern festivals - mainly because of the lack of tourist infrastructure- so we were pretty much the only chillips there. How welcoming everybody was, so friendly, and they were most amused at us all in their national dress and thought we looked beautiful.



The dances are mesmerising, all accompanied by horns, drums and extraordinary chanting. The Dzong was decorated in wonderful fabr…

A river of tears.

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Tears. Rivers of tears were shed by rally hardened world travellers, overcome with emotion at what we saw today. 



From Bumthang we entered the little visited east of Bhutan and drove on some of the wildest and. most difficult roads in the country, likened by some to the death road in Bolivia.  But our rewards were great indeed. The skies were deepest azure all day and the crystal clear air ensured that the far reaching views were as good as it could be.



To reach Mongar, the driving time is 8-9 hours and every minute was full of unadulterated joy.  The snowy high Himalayas were on their showy best form, especially when we crossed Trumshing la Pass, which was covered in bright new prayer flags for the 4th King's birthday. It was here that many crews were overcome by the overwhelming, spiritual beauty they encountered. All agreed you could not put into words the visceral power of standing in such a place.  Max Stephenson, who has been driving around the world since 1972, said it was th…

Bumthang.

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A misty morning saw all crews setting off in high spirits for the relatively short journey to Bumthang.   Everyone was still buzzing after the last couple of days exhilarating driving and looking forward to another fabulous day.

There was some road widening going on but nothing on the scale we have seen.  It was a yet another wonderful drive up through the rhododendron and blue pine forests, a couple of passes, through glorious rolling farmland, past exquisite villages and on to Bumthang.  





Bumthang is in the geographical heart of the country and is considered the most spiritual place in Bhutan.  All crews arrived in time for lunch at our hotel, a wonderfully traditional place with great views across the valley.  There is much for the visitor to see.  Ancient monasteries that make your spine tingle, beautiful countryside, the tiniest and prettiest airport building you ever saw and a charming town.


The lovely Model A of of Gerry and Joyce had a problem with shock absorbers after endless b…