Friday, April 30, 2010

April 26 – Another Festival and the Ride Home

On Monday we woke up at the River Lodge and went to the village of Ura for the second day of its festival. This was a quite different experience from our two days at Domkar. We were just a few of the many tourists attending this festival. In fact, the tourists outnumbered the Bhutanese attending the festival. According to Robin, this had started out as a small local festival and was now becoming quite commercialized. This might be the last year that he would bring a group here.

We did see some dances that we hadn’t seen in Domkar. The highlight was the Black Hat Dance. In this dance the dancers assume the appearance of yogis who have the power to kill and recreate life. The dancers wear brocade dresses, wide-brimmed black hats, and black aprons with an image of the protective deities whose images are kept in the chapel devoted to them.

I have included two photos of the dance, one of the dancers lining up at the beginning of the dance and one of a single dancer, taken from the second story of the temple. You will see in both cases, tourists in the picture.

We had our lunch, which we had brought from the River Lodge, watched one more dance and then left to return to the River Lodge for our second night, before leaving for Ugen Choling the next day. On the way home I took a couple of pictures of typical passing situations on the roads through the front windshield. These are not noted for their photographic quality, but I believe give you the idea of the roads in Bhutan. These were taken on the main highway that crosses the country from east to west. There is a new section from Paro to Thimphu that is straighter and wider, but what I have shown is more common.

Just before arriving in Jakar, we had a great view of the valley with storm clouds billowing up. Tomorrow we leave the River Lodge for the village of Ugyen Choling. It is the site of a sixteenth century palace, now a museum, and a guest house where we will spend two nights. In this setting we are able to interact with the local farmers, who were recently brought into the 21st century when electricity came in.

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