After confirming my Bhutan trip I told some of my blogger friends about it. And since I rarely had a chance to visit Bhutan, I tried my best to use this opportunity to meet every one of them in real life. Since I had a month to spend, I tried to arrange my trips beforehand, by finding someone to travel together or arranging to meet them at their place, and so on.
So, one day I happened told Kipchu that I wanted to meet him, and if possible, stay in his village for 2 nights (I only knew a little bit from his blog post that he stayed in a village somewhere in Wangdue Phodrang). Only the night before, when I met him at Dawa's place, I was asking him more details about his village (where, how far, how to go, etc.) and also about his family members.
That morning Kipchu arranged a vehicle (driven by his cousin brother) to send me from Dawa's house at Bajo town to his village, called Uma Village, about 35 km distance from Bajo town. We went to his cousin brother's house first (which took us almost an hour to reach) by driving along the Punatsangchhu river through the Wangdue Phodrang - Tsirang highway.
|Buddha's face shaped by the rocks at Wangdue Phodrang - Bhutan|
On our way, just after we crossed the Wangdue bridge, Kipchu told me the location of the Buddha's face shaped by the rocks that Passu found last year August (read about his post here). Oh, I never dreamed that I finally saw it with my own eyes hehehe... :) He also briefed me a little bit about the Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric project that was located along the Punatsangchhu river, and showed me where the river flew and where the water would come out again, etc.
We stopped for a while at his cousin brother's house to pick his family members who also wanted to go up to the village to help up in paddy plantation (their house was just above where Kipchu stayed). The white Balero used lots of strength to go through the steep, narrow and stony road, the only path to reach the village above the mountain. Luckily the weather was good (no rain) so the road wasn't that muddy nor slippery.
It took us less than an hour to reach the nearest road that led to his house. We waited there for a while until his younger brother, Dorji, came to help us carrying our bags. There wasn't proper road to lead to his house. In fact, we even had to go through the paddy plantation side before reaching his two-storey typical Bhutanese villagers' house. The first storey was used for storage, second storey was their living place, and the top attic was used to keep the hay to feed the cattle.
|Kipchu's beautiful mom :)|
It took us about 10 to 15 minutes to reach there and when we entered, his mom was there in the kitchen awaiting for us. Ohhh... I was amazed to see how young and beautiful Kipchu's mother was!!! At age not yet reaching 50, she already had 4 grown up sons (the eldest was 25 years old, the youngest was 19 years old, and Kipchu was number two in the family). We exchanged smile and shook hands upon meeting each other. Too bad she couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak Dzongkha. So most of the time, we both just exchanged smile while Kipchu would translate whatever conversation we both wanted to say.
|Kipchu's lovely grandma or usually called 'Angay' :)|
We reached when it was lunch time. His mother and grandmother (Angay) were just coming back from work to have their lunch. I had it later on as I was still quite full as I had my breakfast late. But she gave me a cup of hot fresh milk (probably just squeezed from their cow earlier that morning) as a welcome drink, poured in a new-looked porcelain China cup completed with its cover that I suspected they just bought it for me to use :D Kipchu told me that his mom always served him that too when he reached home from India :)
|My simple yet delicious and fulfilling lunch :)|
We had our lunch at about 2 pm. While resting Kipchu told me more about his family members detail. To be honest, I didn't know much about them before. So while I was there, he tried to feed me with so many information about his family background and details, which I appreciated it very much so I could know about him and his family better while staying there.
|Paddy's plantation - some belonged to Kipchu's family - Uma Village, Bhutan|
I think we went at a little bit wrong timing as it was their busiest time doing the paddy cultivation. Kipchu was supposed to help his mom and brothers. But because of my visit, he had beed spared from his duty for 2 days time. I felt a bit guilty but they were very understanding (I hoped) hehe... He also explained to me the process of planting the paddy. However, I couldn't remember the step in details. If you wanted to roughly know the process, please click here :D
|Kipchu's mom was doing paddy transplantation or cham tsu nyi in her field :)|
|Posing with a strong and diligent woman - Kipchu's mom :)|
After lunch Kipchu brought me around their paddy fields. There, we visited his mom and brothers.
|Kipchu and his brothers :) - Uma Village, Bhutan|
Kipchu and his three handsome brothers hehehe.... :D
|The paddy fields - Uma Village, Bhutan|
After a while, we walked back home. We sat outdoor and chitchatted about many things, especially about life, until the rain poured down wetting the lands. While the rests continued with their cultivation (by wearing big transparent plastic on their backs), both of us went up inside the house. I was sitting there facing outside the window while Kipchu made a cup of hot tea back in the kitchen.
It was quiet and serene. The rain drop sound was what we all heard. Kipchu took out his laptop and showed me some of his writings. I browsed into it quickly, then we discussed about it until sky turned dark. He kept his laptop and started preparing dinner (since all the family members were busy working in the field, he would be the one in charge of preparing food at home. Oh, btw, he was single and available. If you're interested, just to let you know that he's good and experienced in cooking hehehe... :P).
|Preparing bangchang for me and grandma :)|
Once his mom came back home, she prepared bangchang or fermented wheat for me and his grandma. She made it beforehand and then added it with hot water, crushed it and strained it using the bamboo strainer as per shown in the photo above. Grandma was sleeping after drinking that while waiting for dinner hahaha... I envied her... I was sleepy too but I couldn't sleep la :P
|Dinner time - Kipchu and his families :)|
So I decided to wash my face and when I returned, they were already in their sitting formation, ready to have a dinner. Menu for our dinner was bean with ema datshi (chili with cheese) and sikkam pha (dried pork) cut in small size with potato, onion and cheese :D Apart from that, Kipchu also prepared a bowl filled with fresh cucumber, onion and tomato - Indian style - since he knew I liked eating that. Thank you la! :)
|Me and Kipchu's family was finally ready for dinner :)|
Before started eating, I requested them to take photo, so I could keep this memory, that moment with me for a long time :) They were watching TV while eating. Only Kipchu talked with me. Apart from the language barrier, the two brothers were too shy to talk with me. Both of them were even talking very softly to each other, as if they were afraid I could hear them (as if I understood the language that they were using) hehehe.... No la, I guessed, they were just being polite or maybe that was their way of speaking at home? :) Occasionally I could only hear Angay laughing hard and talking loud when there was something funny from the TV program. She was the only one who dared to laugh out and speak loud. Very cute Angay :)
Btw his eldest brother wasn't in the photo as he went to Lhakhang that night and stayed there for a night to make a butter lamp (he was the caretaker in one of the Lhakhangs in the village. Before that he used to become a monk and was educated inside the monastery).
After dinner, Kipchu had to wash the dishes outside. They didn't have tap water inside the house. The tap was separated outside and we had to walk downward to reach. If rained, it could become slippery. They only kept some jerry cans filled with water inside the house for washing the food and other things required for cooking.
Their toilet was also very traditional type and located outside, about 10 meters away from home. You had to bring torch light, sometimes umbrella (when it was raining), also make sure there was pail with water inside. If not, you had to fill it up and bring it inside (no water pipe connected to the toilet), still very manual. It was made of wood and covered using tarpaulin material (no solid door and wall). You had to walk on stones and grasses to reach there.
It's common to have this kind of toilet in Bhutan village. Similar with what you could usually find in rural area in China many years back. I had no choice but to go there every time I needed to pee la as Kipchu had so many brothers inside the house and no sister hahaha... So before entering the toilet, I had to take a deep breath and endured the smell until I had finished :D
So once I washed up and brushed my teeth after dinner, Kipchu showed me where I would sleep that night. He led me to the room and only me would stay there - well, sometimes with the cat :D While the rest would sleep in the living room. I was like... refusing that offer la. I told him, I didn't mind sleeping in the room, but at least, together with his mom and Angay. But they wouldn't sleep with me. They let me sleeping there alone, as I was their guest. Yalama... I felt paiseh lah! And they were already on their beds and in sleeping position by the time I returned. So no choice lo, I slept alone in the room with altar. Before sleeping, Kipchu chit chatted with me again until we both felt tired. He slept outside with the rest of his family. So that was my first day experience in his village. Thank you Kipchu for your kind acceptance to receive me as a guest in your house for few days and let me experience the real Bhutanese village life. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! :)