Rinzin Dorji, strong man of Haa Valley
You can even find cotton candy in Thimpu
Brings new meaning to annual “house cleaning.”
Kindergarteners at Lingshi School
Crossing Paro Chu
Folk songs with Laya children
Again and again, we have learned that carefully choosing a tour company/booking agent that “gets” you is the single greatest way to be sure that you have the trip you hope for…and then more. We did not do any research or make any requests regarding lodging or restaurants or food, and we trusted the tour company to match us to a suitable guide. As a result, we had a remarkable journey, full of unexpected beauty and warmth and insight. Oh, and we ate well, too.
Besides, it’s not an adventure if you plan every step of the way.
Approaching Sinche La
There were so many decisions to make, and there were so many unknowns. We knew that we wanted to spend the majority of our time on trek – this was our first visit to the Himalaya, and we wanted to be in the Himalaya. We poured over the treks book, reading and considering each one. Some treks were too short, or too long, or too strenuous, or not up in the mountains, but they all had features that were attractive. We were bound by the number of our paid vacation days, and we did want to experience some of the culture in towns and villages. We thought that perhaps we should string together two shorter treks, but we kept coming back to the Jomohari-Laya-Gasa trek. This trek was in the mountains, with stops in villages, and we had the sense that it was the trek less traveled, once leaving Jomolhari base camp. It’s listed as strenuous, but we didn’t really have a gauge of what that meant…other than we needed be serious about training to be in shape for the trip.
Blue Poppy Treks and Tours made an intriguing suggestion: take the Laya Gasa trek, but turn north at Laya and head for Masa Gang: another spectacular peak overlooking a high valley, with plenty of options for side hiking. We debated a bit more: were we proverbially biting off more than we could swallow? But, will we ever go back again? Would be sorry to not have pushed our perceived limits? And, what if one of us was having a problem with the altitude? How would that affect us? History shows that we really don’t repeat trips to countries we have visited. (With the exception of Sardinia – but we have near-familial ties there.) So, making the assumption that we may not return to Bhutan, and that we are the masters of our own fitness preparations, we said, “Yes!”
Our Jomolhari-Laya-Gasa trek was planned for 17 days, beginning with three days of acclimatization hikes, and including three days for our Masa Gang excursion. Once we had this decision made, all the other parts began to fall into place. Now we needed to pull together our fitness plans, and boot break-in hikes.