Friday, July 31, 2015

Bhutan Trip Day 7 - 29 June 2015 Last relaxing day in Bumthang and Puta (buckwheat noodles) in the making :)

Yes, it was my last relaxing day in Bumthang. I planned to stay there for 5 days before moving on to other destination. Since Neela had to go to work as usual, we didn't go anywhere, just stayed at home. That was fine though as what I required was just ample time to rest and relax :)

For the past 5 days in Bumthang, Devi and Neela had fed me very well. Breakfast (with morning tea), lunch, afternoon tea, chang pa with beer, then dinner - that's what they provided me every single day. I felt blessed but at the same time a little bit worried about my weight. Lol!!! But even before I reached Bhutan, I'd already gained some weight resulting from my previous Batam trip :P So, it didn't really matter though hehehe.... :D

Breakfast with love :)

The above was what Devi prepared for me as breakfast. Roti roll with egg plus potato curry and home made strawberry jam with a cup of coffee with milk. She made the roti from scratch. Flour, water, and the most important ingredient, love :) I just want to convey my gratitude for all things she had done for me making my stay comfortable, safe, memorable, and fulfilled. Thank you, thank you, and thank you Devi for everything!!! :)

At about 10.30am she told me that she would be just outside the house helping her neighbor cum house owner - Yeshey Dema - up for about an hour time.

Pulling the thread outside the house - Bumthang, Bhutan

She wore the cap and walked out. I was curious on what she planned to do, so I followed her. She  took patang out and cut those weed that grew in between.

Hooked the threads to the other side - Bumthang, Bhutan

Yeshey took her keeb or thread out, lengthen it and hooked it to the other side as you see on the above picture.

Preparing her initial Gho weaving under the sun - Bumthang, Bhutan

Once done, she sat at another side and did her things while Devi walked back and forth holding the stick with black threads on it, tangled it to the other side and then passed the thread to Yeshey for her to tie with the rest of the white threads.

Half way Gho in the making using Thirtha Sing - Bhutanese weave machine

It was an interesting thing to know. Usually when we visited the Yathra shop or the textile museum, they would display the half way weaved kira or gho and seldom they demonstrated the initial part. If it wasn't because of Yeshey's requesting help from Devi, I wouldn't be able to witness how it was usually be done. No wonder piece of Gho and Kira could worth so much sometimes, depending how complicated and how fast it was made.

Enjoying our afternoon tea :)

At noon Devi had finished helping. She was sweating and tired but still she offered me to make the afternoon tea. It was sunny but windy, an ideal time to sip in the delicious hot tea accompanied with sweet fried dessert and plums. We sat outside the main door this time so that we were able to feel the flurry of air. Next to me, she smiled wholeheartedly and filled her heart with satisfaction (for being able to help Yeshey).

Gangrithang Primary School - Bumthang, Bhutan

We had half an hour before lunch time. She suggested me to walk to where Neela worked. It's within walking distance. Since I had no agenda, I agreed to her in an instance. We walked through the back road passing through Gangrithang Primary School. Within few minutes we arrived.

Enjoying our ice creams ^^

There were still time before lunch. Devi and I went to the next door's bakery and had some ice cream while waiting :) Then we went home together to have lunch.

Our chang pa for the night :)

Farewell dinner :)

At night, we had farewell dinner together with Yeshey, Bungay Bhai, Kedar and families at Devi's house. Kedar came with few bottles of Druk 11000 as gifts for me. He also knew that I loved drinking it :) Thank you Kedar Bro!!! :)

At almost 10pm, Yeshey Dema came. She just finished queuing for the holy water at Kurjey Lhakhang. Since it was my last night staying in Bumthang, Devi had requested her to make Puta (buckwheat noodles). She was born originally there in Bumthang, therefore she had mastered in making Bumthang traditional food. Although late, the rests were all willing to wait and helping out in the making.

Below were the steps of making Puta:
1. Open up 1 kg sweet buckwheat flour.

Bumthang Sweet Buckwheat Flour - making Puta (buckwheat noodles)

2. Add water slowly and knead the dough.

Knead the dough - making Puta (buckwheat noodles)

3. Knead it until it can be shaped into a ball and flatten it using rolling pin, make it into long shape.

Flatten and roll the dough into long shape - making Puta (buckwheat noodles)

4. Using the noodle machine, slide the dough in and make it into noodle shape.

Use the noodle machine and slide the dough into it - making Puta (buckwheat noodles)

5. Boil the water and cook the noodle. Strain the water and put it aside.

Devi with her dough and Yeshey Dema boiled the noodles - making Puta (buckwheat noodles)

6. Seasoning time!!! :)

Seasoning Puta (buckwheat noodles)

a. Cut garlic and shallots
b. Heat the oil and put both inside
c. Once it smells fragrant, add few pcs of eggs
d. Mix it around until cooked
e. Put the strained and boiled noodles into the pot
f. Add in salt, chili powder, pepper into the pot
g. Pour the fried garlic, shallots and eggs into the pot
h. Using hand, mix the ingredients until it all mixes well
i. Voila!!! Ready to serve!!! :)

Homemade Puta or Buckwheat Noodles - Bumthang, Bhutan

Due to the hard work and team work of the three ladies, within an hour time the delicious Puta was ready!!! Thank you everyone for making it for me to try. It tasted delicious!!! Zhim bay la!!! Name same kadinche la everyone for everything, also for coming to my farewell dinner. Hope to see you again in the future. Take care la!!! :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bhutan Trip Day 6 - 28 June 2015 Harvesting organic veggies from the garden :)

Meat shop and vegetable market in Bumthang

After spending our time outside here, we passed by meat shop and vegetable market before heading home. We were actually looking for pork ribs to cook the Singapore style 'bakuteh' or pork rib soup. However, the meat seller offered us to buy 4 kg at one time or not buy at all kind of attitude (Devi said they were monopolizing the market as they knew other meat seller were not opened at that time). At the end we didn't buy and headed home.

Where I stayed in Bumthang :)

The above was the place where I stayed in Bumthang, central of Bhutan. The area was called Gangrithang, very near from Gangrithang Primary School, in fact, within 5 minutes walking distance. As you see the picture above, there were many greenery surrounded the house. Devi and Neela were lucky that the owner of the house let them growing some plantation in a given area. And coincidentally both of them enjoyed doing that. They both were even very proud of it!!! :)

Organic vegetables grown by Devi :)

The above was some of the vegetables grown in her garden: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, zucchini, bean, spring onion, herbs, carrot, potatoes, chili, and so on. It's been the dream of my hubby to have such garden nearby the house. Too bad, we both lived sandwiched between the flats in government HDB housing, in the middle of the metropolitan city and country. This would always be his wish only :)

Chili plantation :)

She planted rows of chili too but it was still growing up. Uhhh... imagine if I plant that chili here!!! I won't have to ask someone to bring the chili from Bhutan anymore, instead, just go to the garden and pluck it up hehehe....  :D

Plucked potatoes, carrots and spring onion for dinner :)

That evening, we ended up collecting potatoes and plucking carrots and few spring onions for our dinner's ingredients. This way, she could save her food expenditures too and eat healthier food as it was grown organic.

Our gathering dinner :)

Our friends, Kedar and families, came from their village in Sarpang that night. We waited for their arrival and prepared the above dishes for our reunion. Chana, chilli chop, papadam, crackers, deep fried vegetables were our chang pa that night, so many varieties!!! :) I cooked Opor Ayam (chicken cooked in coconut milk added with potatoes and carrots) for them to try the taste of Indonesian food using the instant Indofood spices that I brought from home hehehe... Just hope they liked the taste though :D

I tried the new Bhutanese wine, called Happiness. Too bad it was not into my liking. I still preferred Takin wine ^^ So, Druk 11000 was still my primary choice for my chang pa la :D Thank you everyone for your time and effort for the gathering dinner. Hope you enjoyed it the way I enjoyed your accompany!!! Cheers.... :)

Bhutan Trip Day 6 - 28 June 2015 Trip to Jakar Dzong and Bumthang Cheese and Wine Shop at Batpalathang

View from the (toilet's) window - amazing!!! :)

It's Sunday!!! A rest day!!! I too, took half day off from my holiday. What?? Took day off during holiday??? Hehehe... :P As I wrote earlier on, the holiday that supposed to be a chill and relax, turned out to be the most tiring one!!!

I slept late almost every night and woke up as early as 5 to 6 am almost everyday. The sky turned bright after 5 am and also, because we had to share one toilet among the rest of the house occupants, and I loved to spend more time for myself inside the toilet, really slowly. Be it browsing internet (morning time was the best time to read other people's blog!!!), checking on Facebook status, or updating my whereabouts to my dear family members back home. Also, the view from the toilet's window was marvelous!!! See the photo above as a proof!!! :D

Happened at the same morning, there was an earthquake (magnitude 5.5) in Assam, India, which shook the area of Bumthang too! The toilet was shaking when I was having big business and I heard children sound from outside the window. I think they were jumping too. So, I thought that the children were jumping so strong until it shook the toilet. Lol!!! But still, as a precaution, I faster finished my business and went out from the toilet. In a while, I read many Bhutanese updated their Facebook status regarding the earthquake. Luckily nothing bad was happened!

Jakar Dzong view from afar - Bumthang, Bhutan

We only went out at 3 pm. This time, we went visiting Jakar Dzong. I had been looking this building from afar since two years ago, but didn't have time to visit it. However, this time all of us finally visited the place (especially the Lhakhang) for the very first time!! :)

Jakar Dzong - Bumthang, Bhutan

Jakar Dzong or Jakar Yugyal Dzong was literally translated as "Castle of the White Bird". Legend said that when Lamas assembled in 1549 to select the site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly flying in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. It was interpreted as an important omen. So that hill was chosen as the site to build the Dzong (source: Lonely Planet) while some other source said that it was founded by Zhabdrung's great-grandfather - Lam Ngagi Wangchuck - who came to Bhutan to spread the Buddha teaching.

Direction signage at Jakar Dzong - Bumthang, Bhutan

The entrance was quite steep and slippery, especially after rain. I was wondering how the lady civil servants coming to work to their administrative office using high heels and wearing Kira. They must have struggled walking on that path. Salute to them la! Also, I can't imagine how to work during winter time when it's layered with frozen ice... Yalama!!!

Jakar Dzong - Bumthang, Bhutan

When we arrived, no one was seen around, not even inside the security room. As a good guest, I still filled the book up with my details :) We waited outside the temple, almost giving up and wanted to leave the place until the security officer suddenly popped up and approached us. He told us that the Lhakhang's door at ground floor wasn't locked and allowed us to enter to pray.

Steep ladder at Jakar Dzong - Bumthang, Bhutan

On the way back, I saw the very steep wooden ladder going to second floor. I was amazed with it and wondered where it led to. I was asking Neela if we could climb up, at least tried and experienced the steepness of the ladder.

While doing it, again the security officer passed by and he seemed telling us that the caretaker of the prayer room located at 3rd floor was around and we could proceed to upstairs. Wow!!! Again, lucky us!!! (Felt like they could hear my wish, my deep inside prayer :))

Climbing up the steep ladder inside Jakar Dzong - Bumthang, Bhutan

We climbed the staircase slowly and it just felt magnificent!!! The distance in each ladder was quite high too. While climbing up, I was imagining how old the staircase must have been and how good it was if there was any lift available, to cater for elderly visitors or young kids. Otherwise, only the young and adults would be able to visit the place la! I know, I know.. you would lose its uniqueness right? I just wondered though... :D

Yayyy!!! We made it there!!! :) Jakar Dzong - Bumthang, Bhutan

However, for the caretaker, climbing this kind of ladder was just a piece of cake. He was even running while climbing it up. Lol!!! Anyway, good exercise for four of us. We finally reached inside the Lhakhang, happy and satisfied!!! :)

Outside the Lhakhang at 3rd Floor - Jakar Dzong in Bumthang, Bhutan

The room was quite different from other Lhakhang I went before. You could even see from outside the door at the photo above (two hanging figures upside down) and other different paintings on upper side of the door. Even inside, the display of the altar was quite different too. A new experience for me :)

We made it there!!! :) Happy and satisfied!!! Jakar Dzong - Bumthang, Bhutan

Uhuyyyy!!! Mission accomplished!!! :)

Stopped and relaxed - enjoying the view of Bumthang valley :)

On our way to next destination, we passed by the wooden seats on the roadside facing the Shrishtika's school and beautiful view of Bumthang valley. Neela stopped his vehicle and let us sitting there just to chill and relax. After all, it was Sunday evening! ;)

Fresh milk from Batpalathang - Bumthang, Bhutan

Bumthang Swiss and Wine Shop or Swiss Guest House

Oh oh... only now I realized. Actually, I was planning to visit Swiss Guest House. But instead, Neela brought me to the Bumthang Cheese (Swiss) and Wine Shop at Batpalathang. Lol!!! :D

Finally got my Red Panda draft beer. Cheers!!!! :D

Didn't matter though, as I found what I wanted there - Cheese Gouda - and Red Panda draft beer!!! Cheers!!! :)

Bumthang alcohol drink products :)

Besides, they sold many local alcohol drink products on the shelf too!!!

Met Kuenza there :)

And otherwise, I wouldn't be able to meet Kuenza Karma there and tasted delicious Rangjung ara given by him hehehe..... What a coincidence la!!! :) So, that's about it now!!! Hope you enjoyed reading it!!! See you soon!!! :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bhutan Trip Day 5 - 27 June 2015 Trip to Pema Thek Chok Choling Nunnery, Mebar Tsho, and Zangtopelri

Our half day had gone in a split second. Read what we did here :)

Our simple Bhutanese lunch :)

Once Neela came back home, we had our lunch. See the photo above. Devi just put whatever food available from previous day plus the fresh made Khuley or buckwheat pancakes - a traditional Bumthaps food made of buckwheat flour, water and salt - and Sel Roti. I had filled my stomach with lots of Sel Roti, therefore I took a piece of Khuley and ate it with fish curry and kewa datshi. No dorley chilli for me this time though, to avoid 'too spicy' and burning feeling inside my mouth :D

Pema Thek Chok Choling Nunnery in Tang valley, Bumthang - Bhutan

Again, afraid that I got bored at home, they took me to few places after that. First place we visited was Pema Thek Chok Choling Nunnery (or Anim Dratsang). It's located high up in the Tang valley of Bumthang, not far from Mebar Tsho, founded in year 2001, as an initiative of His Eminence Gangtey Tulku Rinpoche.

Main Lhakhang and dormitories at the side - Pema Thek Chok Choling Nunnery - Bumthang, Bhutan

It was the first Buddhist college for women in the history of Bhutan. Here, the girls and women were able to learn, study, meditate, and have full access to the spiritual education. Click here to find out more about the nunnery and if you would like to provide monetary support as it'd be utilized as a basic support for the young nuns (for their meals, clothing, shelter, education, etc.)

Devi and families with young nuns at Pema Thek Chok Choling Nunnery

We went there to pay a visit to Devi's god-brother's daughter, a 7-year old girl, who was brought there by her parents some time ago. In Bhutan, it was common to bring their son or daughter to the monastery, to let them learning in Buddhism way. Devi brought many vegetables from her garden, Sel Roti, and even tidbits/snacks for the young nun.

Perfect accompany for tea - zaw and biscuit :)

We were invited to sit inside the guest room, served with tea, zaw (roasted puff rice), and biscuits while they had chit chat and updated with their current situation. We made some donation too before visited and prayed inside their main Lhakhang upstairs.

Posed together before leaving :)

We took photos together before leaving the place. It was raining when we went there. Amazingly, once we finished visiting this nunnery, the rain stopped. Therefore, it enabled us visiting our next destination - Mebar Tsho or the Burning Lake.

Second visit to Mebar Tsho or Burning Lake - Bumthang, Bhutan

It was my second visit there. Read my first visit here. Since it was after rain, we had to walk slowly down. The stones and pathway had become slippery and dangerous.

Beautiful stacked stones at Mebar Tsho :)

Stacked stones - believed that wishes will come true :)

Mebar Tsho was a sacred pilgrimage place and one of the holiest lake in Bhutan where people believed that Terton Pema Lingpa discovered the sacred treasure that was hidden by Guru Rinpoche long time ago. He managed to hold the treasure back with a lamp still burning even after coming up from the lake.

Among the extensive array of prayer flags above the Mebar Tsho - the Burning Lake in Bumthang, Bhutan

With the caretaker on top of the bridge of Mebar Tsho - the Burning Lake in Bumthang, Bhutan

We lighted the incense and offered our prayer to the Gods there, and as usual, we looked down from the big stone above horizontally. The caretaker said if we saw the flying white scarfs on the water, it meant that they welcomed us to come to the lake. There were two places where we could see the flying white scarfs. In an instance, we felt blissful and contented, especially when rain had stopped which enabled us to go there. Thank you for the good karma :)

"Zangto Pelri" - Pagoda shaped temple on top of Tang Valley in Bumthang, Bhutan

From there, we continued our journey. This time to the place they called "Zangto Pelri" - a pagoda kind of temple built on top of the Tang Valley. I tried to find the exact name, but couldn't find. So let me stick to the name as per mentioned by Devi and Neela.

Beautiful Tang Valley in Bumthang, Bhutan

On the way there, we passed by beautiful greenery. Neela shared with me his dreams, what he wanted to achieve in his life. One of them was to build a house in a valley like this. A small land, enough to build house with few rooms. Most importantly, there was enough space for gardening, one of their favorite hobbies and past times. They could visit this house during summer where other part of Bhutan would be hot or raining. I didn't dare to have such wish as we didn't have such landscape in our country. So, I just had to be content to wish that his dreams would come true, and I could visit them in their dream house one day :)

Muddy road to the Gate of Heaven :P

The road to the Zangto Pelri wasn't in good condition. It was very much muddy. So we had to stop halfway and walk for the rest of our journey.

Nice evening walk towards Zangto Pelri in Tang Valley - Bumthang, Bhutan

It was a very good evening walk though. We were surrounded by beautiful natures, such as: trees, bushes, goats' shed, and so on. We walked slowly, finding a drier mud to pass through, and finally reached there.

View of the beautiful Zangto Pelri at Tang Valley - Bumthang, Bhutan

Nananana..... here was the beautiful pagoda from near sight. It's beautiful, wasn't it? :) All the walk seemed worth it. It wasn't opened though. So we just circumambulated the Pagoda thrice and conveyed our prayers there, also took photo of the beautiful surrounding :)

Thank you for your delicious dinner la!!! :)

At night, we went to Yeshey and Bungay Bhai's house as they invited us for dinner. As usual, they also knew my favorite - Druk 11000 :D They served delicious chang pa to have it with hehe... Thank you la both of you for your invitation and delicious dinner!!! It's great meeting all of you again, after some time!!! We filled our day full of activities today!!! So satisfied!!! We went home afterwards and finally took a good rest. Zzz.... ;)
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