Monday, April 26, 2010

Wangdue to Trongsa - Worse than the road to Hana

We left Wangdue at about 8:00. I was assigned to a car by myself with Wangdi and Thinley as guide and driver, respectively. Robin had given the guides, a challenge to find a beehive, an orchid, and a monkey along the road. The road we were to follow for the next seven hours is a windy road cut into the sides of mountains, following the course of a river. The paved surface is barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Many times we had to stop and pull over to the minimal shoulder to allow a truck coming toward us room to pass. The top speed is about 25 mph. Large trucks in Bhutan are marked 30km which means that they are not allowed to travel faster than 18 mph. Robin had figured that from curve to curve on the road was about nine seconds of driving time or about 100 yards. Sometimes one can see around two curves. This was the road all day up to a mountain pass where we had lunch and then back down on the other side.

I will give a few incidents and a few pictures; to recount the whole seven hours would be tedious and I am a day behind writing this up as I will explain later.

It was about 8:30 when Wangdi spotted a beehive on the cliff across the river. The beehive is a large black half-circle that stands out on the white cliff. I documented the find with a picture and we moved on. About 20 minutes later, Wangdi spotted several trees with orchids growing in the branches, and we photographed several plants. We finally finished the trifecta when I had pulled over to photograph a white rhododendron and Wangdi spotted the monkey down at the bottom of the cliff. I took the picture with the longest lens that I have with me and the monkey is hardly distinguishable. The picture here is a crop of the full frame from my camera, which makes it a 2:1 blow up.

We passed a group of women sitting under prayer flags at the top of he pass and they were gracious enough to allow me to take their picture. Almost without exception, the people here are willing to have their picture taken and some even ask when they see your camera. The big reward is when you show them their picture on the camera screen, they giggle and laugh and are really pleased.

We continued along. Either I would see something that I wanted to photograph and ask Thinley to stop or Wangdi would see something and ask if I wanted to photograph it, which I usually did. We stopped to photograph several nice waterfalls along the way.

The three cars joined up for lunch at about 2:00 PM. After lunch we moved along much quicker as the scenery was not as interesting and it was clouding up and beginning to look like rain and this road did not seem like the kind of place I wanted to be after dark on a rainy night.

We reached our destination, the Yangkill resort a little after four and went to our rooms. They were supposed to have an Internet connection so I could send the three blogs that I hadn’t been able to send before, because of time constraints and because the place we stayed in Wangdue didn’t have Internet.

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