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In Bhutan we were, 4 girls, travelling internationally for the first time. We had no plans, only information we found on the internet, year 2016 it was. I would like to share about particularly this night at the Buddha statue in Thimphu that I remember
We arrived in Thimphu late at night after travelling from Phuentsholing for over 4 hours in the bus. It was almost 11 o’clock, but it seemed as if it was 2 o’clock in India, there was no one on the street, absolutely no one. Finally, we reached the Thimphu bus stand, we found a taxi to take us to any place near where we could accommodate ourselves for the night.
To know more about what to do when you visit Bhutan, read my blog: 7 Days on the land of Thunder Dragon-Bhutan
Finding a hotel in Bhutan (Thimphu)
The taxi driver took us to Norzin Lam, which was a shopping complex, also all closed and could hardly see any one there. He got out of the taxi to walk us to the hotel which was upstairs on the second floor. Just as we entered the main lobby of the hotel, we found a young man to be talking to the hotel manager, and the hotel manager saying something in a language we didn’t understand.
Our driver started to talk something to the hotel manager too in the same language, after a long discussion the driver turned to us and informed us that there is only one hotel room left available and the other gentleman was also asking for the same, and the manager was unable to decide whom to allot the room to.
We got tensed as at these odd hours, we didn’t know where to go. So, one of us spoke up “lets see the room and depending on the size of the room we can decide who could be allotted to it.” The manager and the other gentleman agreed on this, and we went upstairs to the room. Just as we entered the room we saw a small cozy room, but it had a double bed, 1 single bed a one sofa as long as could be called a bed too.
Room in Sharing
As we counted 5 beds, a thought crossed across our minds, but we were too uncertain about our safety. We were lost in our own thoughts, own confusions when the gentleman spoke up – “ do you girls mind if we can adjust in here, I can sleep on the sofa you girls can take up the bed, I was here to surprise my parents on their anniversary but seems they had some plans and are not at home, so I have to stay in a hotel.” English, well yes this was easier to communicate.
We agreed skeptically, and brought in the bags, and bade good bye to our taxi driver. We were very judgmental about this gentlemen, as we didn’t know the culture here, and back in West Bengal we were warned very much about the thefts and other things here. We had our pepper sprays handy each moment, ready to fight him if instance may occur.
We were also very cautious of our belongings and always had our cash and document bag attended. We got fresh one by one, washing our faces in the bathroom. Slowly we started interacting with him, and we came to know he works with the government as a welfare officer. He had few friends as well in Thimphu who he had planned to meet the day after.
A hit at a bar in Thimphu
After we were all fresh, and ready to get into bed, he asked us out –“ there is a bar near by, its kinda decent, do you girls want to go in”. and the thought of a chilled beer after a long tiring day, got us all out freshened, make-uped and ready to go.
There was bar just 2 blocks ahead, It felt as if we were in some different place, just two blocks back there was pitch silence and no one on the streets, and here there were crowds and music. It felt so lively here. We went in to find all Bhutanese couples dancing on a romantic number. We didn’t understand the language at all, so we headed for the beer.
Soon we had one beer bottle each, the cold beer we were so relieved to have it, that we gulped it without even tasting it. We enjoyed some time there in the music, danced a little, and then headed back to our room.
We chatted a bit at night lying on our beds and found out that this gentleman, named Nima, was married and has 2 kids. Soon talking over random topics, we fell asleep.
New Friendship Blooms
We woke up early in the morning, freshened up and then headed downstairs for breakfast. Once done with breakfast we met Nima’s friend-Karma and headed for local sightseeing. They drove us around, and the excitement in which they spoke to us about their country’s history and culture, brought a tinkle in their eyes.
We visited the Memorial chorten, the museum Bhuddha point, and also had a lunch at a pure Bhutanese restaurant. We had the butter tea for the first time, a mixture of tea leaves, Yak butter and salt. I didn’t like this much, but I loved the dish of chicken which followed. After this, they had a meeting, so they dropped us at the market near our hotel to stroll around for shopping.
We did shop a little, where we learned and observed some patterns of the people here, so kind-hearted and ready to help, probably this nature develops when you are happy, and Bhutan of course is known for its Gross Domestic Happiness. We headed back to our rooms, not later than an hour, when we were happily blabbing and playing Uno in our room, Nima returned with some Currency notes to show us.
We were amazed, and took photographs of them, just when Nima asked us if we would like to accompany him and Karma to go the Buddha point as it looks majestic, also when we were there in the morning, we saw it was on a hill top, amidst mountains with tall pine, oak and deodar trees. We were super
excited, and this was the night, a night of adventure.
The beginning of the night
We got ready, put on our jackets and headed to meet Karma. Karma was a basketball coach in school and had a athlete body. His smile too was as warm as Nima’s. While driving, they stopped at the vine shop and asked us what we wanted to drink. We went inside the shop to see that there was a lady on the counter. We opted for Bhutanese beer named after a dragon, and also picked up a Dry tree wine.
We headed to the Buddha point, as we neared, the forest grew thicker, and the surroundings darker.
An open air party in a jungle
We skipped the turn to go to the Buddha point, and ended up in a small clearing. We were worried if the police could intervene, but Nima and Karma both assured us it was safe and not a offence in Bhutan, and we can drink beer and wine in public areas also. There were wooden barks arranged in a circle and a bonfire arrangement in the middle.
We found few woods nearby, and collected them on the bonfire area. Karma lit the bonfire with his cigarette lighter. We spent the time talking about few bad experiences in life. We didn’t notice in this conversation how smoothly the local beer went down our throats. We talked and talked for hours.
This open air small party was something we were not used to back in our towns where consumption of alcohol is prohibited in public areas, and also we didn’t have any chance to head into a deep forest as this.
After a couple of hours we realized it was too late, and also the wine bottle had been downed in our stomachs, we decided we should head back to the hotel, as we had plans for the next day. We all sat in the car, and started descending from the hill. Thimphu Dzong was visible from this downside mountain road, and it looked very beautiful as it was lit with white lights.
Not far enough had we reached when one among us gals felt puckish, so we had to stop the car across the road. One had to pee so she took off on her own to find a spot. Nima and Karma were engrossed in a deep conversation, while the rest of us were caught up with the view of a beautifully lit Dzong
The reason why I remember this night
A car parked in a distant caught my attention in the darkness. With unstable legs and a funny walk, the alcohol walk you could say, I started walking towards the car. The car light inside was lit, but dim. It was pitch silent but I thought I heard some sounds. I can’t say I was that drunk to imagine those sounds, but yes drunk enough to think of this stupidity.
As I neared the car, the sounds started growing stronger and stronger. I found myself curious to know what these sounds are as they were pretty fishy- mostly moans you could say, yes yes, now you can understand my curiosity?
Soon enough I found myself sticking my head to the car window peeking inside it to know what was going on. Before I realized, that this was dancing car, the girl in the couple saw me and pointed at me to her boyfriend. Her boyfriend turned back at me, and had a questionary face, which soon changed anguish looking at me. And the instant this energy hit me from his look, I started running down the hill. The boy started running behind me. I was so embarrassed by this situation I didn’t know what to do, so I kept running away in fear.
The Epic Escape
Soon, I heard a car grumbling and honking from behind me, I heard the girls and Nima screaming my name. They stopped the car near me and I quickly got in the car and asked Karma to drive faster in the fear of the boy catching up on us. Karma speeded up the car, while I calmed down my heart beats. I was so relieved on by this rescue mission.
By this time, everyone had started throwing questions at me, but I took a moment to think what just happened. Once I realized that I had peeked into a dancing car mannerlessly and got the guy running behind me downhill, I could not contain my laughter, and I broke out in a continuous laughter shriek.
After I calmed down, I told them all the story of what I had done, and why the boy was running behind me. Everyone could not control their laughter and we literally had the car stopped and Karma rolled out on the road laughing at what he had just heard. This was the most embarrassing thing I had ever done in my life. And yes, this day inscribed on the drunk memories’ diaries of my life.
We headed back to the hotel room, and slept of in whatever we were wearing, as after the beer and wine, none of us were in the condition to go and freshen up for bed.
Next day we woke up, we didn’t even have a headache, nor a hangover. The beer and wine were this smooth. It was as if we never had been drinking the previous night. We had to head to Paro today, so we bid Nima and headed towards the bus stand for the rest of our adventure.
Even today, we have kept in contact with Nima, as he had visited us in Paro too along with his sister.
Also staying 2 nights with him in the same hotel room, we grew fond of him.
Today 4 years later, we still continue video calls with him, even if they are short. He shows us around his workplace and food. And we do the same.
To read another thriller experience on my experience on a trek in Bhutan, read my blog: 1 Gloved Trek, Tiger Nest, Bhutan
These Thimphu days were one of my first days in Bhutan, where I learned a lot of things.
- Not all people are bad, its only a matter of judgement.
- People who you meet in your life come for a reason. Hadn’t it been Nima, we would have never tasted the local beer and wine in Bhutan, nor visited the night club on our own.
- Having interacted with him, gave us a confidence and we also visited the club in Paro, as we knew he was just a phone call away to any arrangements if needed, ofcourse we didn’t, but just the feeling of he counting up on us was enough.
- Each culture, each travel, every experience changes you in an irreversible good way.
- Through out Bhutan there could be almost no traffic lights, yet they follow all traffic rules even when the roads are empty. People are this disciplined.
- I learnt what a sense of ownership is towards one’s culture and preserving it.
- Their waste management is appreciated, it is probably one of the cleanest and well maintained countries in the world. There are also many streets in Bhutan which are made from recycled Plastic.
- Discipline: be it personal fitness, or be it waste management or be it the traffic, people are very disciplined here, which solves out a lot of problems even more than we can imagine.
- Hospitality: the people are selfless, and warm and affectionate. We noticed this right from our bus driver from Phuentsholing, to the taxi derivers and hotel managers.
- With exuding spirituality in the air, people here believe in peace and harmony, and the crime rates here are very low as compared to any other country.
- The education is publicly funded upto standard 10 eradicating the illiteracy.
- Protecting the biodiversity. This country and the people are very proactive in conservation initiatives. People come up voluntarily to clean up tourist destinations, they celebrate any events by planting of trees. Organic farming is also taught to students at earlier stages in life.