Archive for month: March, 2011

Gangtey Valley

31 March, 2011 (08:00) | Life | By: Olivier

Gangtey valley and its endless carpet of dwarf bamboo (Yushania microphilla): the favorite meal of yaks.
Gangtey is the favorite landing ground of the beloved black-necked cranes. Alas, by the time we arrived they had already all left for summer, but for one laggard. Even when the birds are not there, the valley stays home to [...]

Prayer flags for the dead.

30 March, 2011 (15:17) | Life | By: Olivier

Wandering in the mountains, one will often stumble on a small forest of white prayer flags planted in memory of a deceased relative. Just add milky mist to witness Bhutanese magic…

Trongsa Dzong

30 March, 2011 (13:03) | Life | By: Olivier

The mighty Trongsa Dzong – the political heart of the kingdom during many generations, and the longest dzong in Bhutan.
After reading “The hero with a thousand eyes“, it was easy to picture life inside this fortress back in the times before the Bhutanese fiscal reform, when taxes were still levied in nature. Back then, the [...]

Educating young monks.

29 March, 2011 (17:01) | Games, Life | By: Olivier

Today, I was supposed to teach English to young monks.

But we quickly found a much more interesting subject matter…

Our Doodle Jump champion for the day!

A couple of observations:
- I was struck by how easily the young monks shared the game. Doodle Jump is addictive and it is very tempting to try “just one more time”. [...]

Punakha Dzong

29 March, 2011 (03:36) | Life | By: Olivier

There is a Dzong in every region of Bhutan. Impressive white fortresses circled with a red khemar band just below the roof, they are the heart of the political and administrative systems, serving simultaneously as seat of local government and as temple. Dzongs are architectural marvels, built without any plans and using no nails, under [...]

Chimi Lhakang

28 March, 2011 (09:24) | Life | By: Olivier

Chimi Lhakang, Drukpa Kunley’s temple, is a renown pilgrimage site as it is widely believed that childless couples who pray there will then conceive children. Inside, a monk blesses you with an ivory and wood replicas of the saint’s lingam as well as his bow and arrow.
The temple is also home to little monks and [...]

Drukpa Kunley, the divine madman.

28 March, 2011 (07:51) | Hedonism, People | By: Olivier

A most surprising sight for a foreigner in Bhutan is that you will see penises everywhere.
Yes, you read that right. Turgid phalluses proudly painted or sculpted on houses and doors and even flying dicks hanging from the corner of roofs. No joke: it’s even worse than Second Life!

This is, in fact, to [...]

Taktshang Goemba: the tiger’s nest.

27 March, 2011 (06:21) | Life | By: Olivier

Taktshang Goemba, Bhutan’s most famous monastery. Allegedly the place where guru Rinpoche landed on the back of a flying tigress to introduce the kingdom to Vajrayana Buddhism. Four hours hiking up the mountain.
Totally worth it!

The land of the thunder dragon.

26 March, 2011 (04:58) | Life | By: Olivier

After a difficult year, I managed to squeeze in some much needed vacation and headed out for the remote kingdom of Bhutan, in the Himalayas. For years I had wanted to visit this tiny country  (only 660k people), having heard of their concept of Gross National Happiness and seeing so many beautiful pictures [...]