Well, here I am again at the end of yet another amazing week. Over the past few days, the group has travelled all around the southern portion of Bhutan. Specifically, we’ve travelled to Phobjikha, areas on the outskirts of Thimphu, and Punakha where we were able to experience a number of different types of accommodations—ones ranging from hotels to a variety of different bigger and smaller group homestays with the some of the kindest humans I’ve ever met, and driving—lots of driving on the curviest roads I’ve ever experienced.
The week began with our drive to Punakha, where we drove into the cloud forest—aka the most absolutely beautiful place I’ve ever been in my life. The hike lasted only around two hours, but I swear, I got lost, and a part of me is still there in those mountains, in that endless sea of green covered by what may have only been mist—but to me felt like the clouds had truly just come down from the sky. It was an experience that I’ll never forget, and never stop appreciating. After the hike, something even more incredible happened, we camped IN the cloud forest. We camped inside a nature reserve surrounded by dogs and the most passive aggressive deer.
Before packing up and heading out, a group of us went birdwatching and I tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to nature. Seeing the birds just enjoying the serenity and protections of the park and being able to see their beauty up close with binoculars just heightened my appreciation of nature even more. Following that camping trip, we headed to the second leg of the cloud forest hike before heading to the definite highlight of the week—the homestay we had with a family in the outskirts of Thimphu near their rice fields that the family has owned for 81 years. We talked to the matriarch of the house—a woman who milks the cows, brews their rice wine, plants and farms the rice, makes the food, and even harvests the fruit. This experience truly made me not just appreciate the family we met. It opened my eyes even more to the level of privilege we in the city truly experience. I, like probably many others rarely thought about what it takes to get something as simple as a grain of rice or a glass of milk on the table. What privilege we have, consuming and consuming without ever really wondering how much effort and time is needed to truly provide us with all we need. Besides this, we also had the unique opportunity to learn about the community’s synergetic work with nature. The community has been around for generations, all utilizing the same lake and river systems for all their needs—ranging from agriculture, cooking, bathing, livestock, and everything in between, not just using it for this long, but doing it in such a way that maintained both the water supply’s quantity available and water quality. This entire weeklong journey opened my eyes to so many different unappreciated aspects of my daily life both abroad and back home. Tomorrow we’re going on the legendary Tiger’s Nest Hike, and I couldn’t be more excited.