Friday, August 14, 2015

Bhutan Trip Day 18 - 10 July 2015 Uma Village - Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan Day 2

I was awaken by the sound of whispering words, the smell of burning wood that seeped in from room's window, and the sky that started to turn bright. I looked at the time from my mobile phone, it was 4.30 am in the morning. I peeked out from the window, it was drizzling outside. The weather was slightly cold and I had the urge to take a leak. I was arguing with myself, "Should I or shouldn't I?" After a while, I couldn't hold any longer, so I decided to go out of the room.

I walked out of the house and found my slippers full of small dead flies while the alive ones were still hovering around the yellow light bulb on top near the entrance door. I turned my slippers around, shook it out, let all the dead flies falling down and slipped my feet into it. With umbrella at one hand and mobile phone at another hand, I walked down the wooden stairs towards the toilet.

Kipchu's mom was cooking the food for the cattle using the firewood at the hut next to the house. Hhmm... that was where the smell of the burning wood coming from. She offered me a torch light upon seeing me but I showed her the mobile phone on my hand and smiled.

After finished, I went back to the room and continued sleeping hehehe.... :D At 6.30 am, the sky had turned really bright. Kipchu was found in the kitchen preparing the food for breakfast. He was picking and washing the green peas and soften up the dried mushroom. I was amazed by how he prepared his food passionately with love :) I went to the tap area to wash my face, brush my teeth, clean up, and also wash my hair. I felt clean and refresh now!! :)

My favorite window view from Kipchu's house :)

When returned, Kipchu offered me a cup of hot brewed tea. I sat down at my favorite place in the house, which was next to the window that facing to the tap area and paddy fields.

Zoomed in the view - tap water area and paddy field. See Kipchu's brothers there in the field?? :)

The weather was still cold that morning, a bit foggy too. Birds were seen settling down at tree branch nearby and then flying to the other. The wind 'wooshh...' and bird chirping were the only sound heard from the surrounding. I felt calm, serene, and peaceful.

For once, I lost my mind into my surrounding - "I wish I can stay there for few more days just to enjoy the calmness and peacefulness, cold weather, fresh air, and simple meal without having to do anything but sitting, reading and writing." 

I took my travel journal and words were just flowing naturally and non-stop, describing the situation surrounding me, of what I felt :) So many thoughts were poured out from my mind - from what I heard, what I encountered, within that short period of time.

At 8 am we had breakfast together. Kipchu whipped out few dishes, such as: dried mushroom with cheese, bean with cheese, and green pea with chili and cheese. There, I noticed that no one ate other than the bean with cheese, as if he made the other two dishes (in smaller portion) only for me :) His brothers had curd (water after making the cheese) while I tried 'yoghurt' drink (water after making cheese and butter).

Kipchu's mom milked a cow :)

After breakfast, we went down to see how his mom milked the cow. He said she did that twice a day - once in morning and once in evening. Not bad, more than half a pail of milk was collected. She made cheese and butter using that milk. Kipchu washed the dishes then prepared lunch for his family members.

Beautiful view at Uma Village - Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan

At 11 am we left the house. It was drizzling so we had to open our umbrellas. The road had become  muddy and very slippery. Despite bringing a stick at one hand, I still had to hold my hand on his to avoid falling down while climbing up or down the pathway. Once we reached motor-able road, the road had become much better and we could walk our way slowly.

Slowly enjoyed our time by walking around the Uma Village - Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan

We walked up to the direction where his primary school was located, But before reaching there, we  stopped and took a break at the gazebo located just in front of the BHU (Basic Health Unit). The place was so quiet with only dogs were around. We chatted there while waiting for the rain to stop and fog to go away.

Suddenly, the health assistant who worked in the BHU appeared approaching us. He asked us few questions then invited us to come in for a cup of tea. Ohhh... that's what I loved staying in Bhutan. Bhutanese were generally friendly and hospitable. They could just chat few words then invite you for a cup of tea, although you didn't know them. Since we had nothing and the rain was still there, we agreed to his offer almost immediately.

He brought us around his working area and showed us the facilities available inside the building. No patient was seen. Only him and another person who took care of the place. We sat down in his office and had a further chit chat. We looked at the statistic board in front of us - the 5 years comparison figures on many different areas, e.g. no of condoms collected, no of HIV patient, etc., and discussed about it. In a while, tea and biscuits were served. Just nice, I felt a little bit hungry hehehe... :D

Uma Primary School at Uma Village - Wangdue Phodrang - Bhutan

After a while, we left the place and continued our walk to Uma Primary School. That's the school where Kipchu studied. We browsed the area and he showed me the classrooms, teacher and principal's quarter, etc.

Farmers' lunch time - Uma Village, Bhutan

Punatshangchhu river from Uma Village - Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan

Our road path - Uma Village, Bhutan

Kids playing together :)

View of Punatshangchhu river from Uma Khatey Village - Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan

From there, we continued our walk. This time we went to his aunt's house at Uma Khatey village (upper side). We reached there at 3 pm. We were served tea with zaw and biscuits when reaching the house. There were many of his relatives there inside the house.

Kipchu with his relatives inside the altar room at his aunt's house :)

I was browsing around the house after that. This house was much bigger as they had bigger family to stay. They even had a well-built toilet outside the house :D They had kindly served us lunch since we hadn't had our lunch yet, simple but delicious meal - rice with fried egg with chili and spring onion :) While eating, Kipchu chit chatted with them, talked about me too sometimes hehe... Thank you for your hospitality la! It helped us regaining our energy back. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Foggy view :)
Kipchu's view from the back :P

Me with the paddy fields background - Uma village, Bhutan :)

We went back home after that passing through the same route we took before. The fog had gone but the road was still muddy and I had problem when returning back to his house. I slipped and fell despite preventing from it badly... lol... But that was fine though, in fact, I enjoyed it, even laughed at it :P hahaha... In the end I had to remove my slippers and walked barefoot. Once reached home, I directly walked to the tap, cleaned up, washed my jacket, and changed my attires.


The weather was still cooling. Before dinner, Kipchu's mom prepared Changkey (fermented rice), again, only for me and Angay :) It's very buttery taste and quite heavy. We had dinner together afterwards. After dinner, Kipchu and I chit chatted again until we were tired and went to sleep.

To tell you the truth, living in the village  wasn't as easy as you imagined, at least for me :D First, the road condition. If that day, Kipchu's cousin brother didn't send us with his Balero, we would have taken public transport, like bus, from Bajo town to the nearest entrance road to his village along the Wangdue Phodrang - Tsirang highway, which took about an hour or more,

From there, we had to walk up for approximately another 1-2 hours through the mud, rough stones, paddy field's pathway, all was walking towards upward direction, and most probably under the scorching afternoon sun or the rain. That was what they usually do actually. For them, it had become a habit and there shouldn't be a big problem. But for me, it might become a nightmare hehe... Even when I had to walk from the motor-able road to his house, that had already been a challenge for me :D

Second, was the toilet. I had been growing up and staying mostly at city with room that was usually equipped with toilet and water tap facility, even if I had to share with others. But back in the village, they offered the very basic facility, and as I had mentioned in my previous blog post, the toilet was separated and there was no water tap inside the house. They didn't have bathroom too.

So, if we had to wash, we had to walk downward for a distance (which could be slippery during rainy day), and dark during night time. If we wanted to have a bath, they had to boil the water using the firewood, which took quite some time, and take it outdoor (under the moon and the stars) near the toilet side. That also, had to be done at night or much early in the morning when no one was watching and everybody was still asleep. Imagine when it came to winter time!!! Well, maybe it wouldn't be as cold as other city like Thimphu, but still... it wouldn't be good for the bone in the long run if you took bath openly at cold temperature.

Third, insects. Few insects that we often encountered at home in city area were usually mosquito, ant, fly, cockroach, rat,and lizard. In Bhutan village, depending on the area and season, they had many moth seeping and flying through the window. That night, while standing near the kitchen area, I was shocked by the big and black color beetle falling from the ceiling, not only once, but twice :D They weren't really disturbing us though, but I was not used to it yet :)

Fourth, cats and dogs. It was very common to see cats and dogs at Bhutanese house. Cats were there to help the house owner to catch the rats while dogs to guard the house from theft and others. I was grown up in Jakarta where stray cats and dogs were also common found nearby our house. Other than the faeces they usually left on the road (which sometimes you would accidentally step on it and made it your bad day), I was traumatized with stray dogs running after me while cycling or sometimes running/jogging. Oh, I still could not forget the sound that the cat made in the middle of the night that you thought there was a baby crying left on the rooftop by a heartless mother. But in Bhutan, cats and dogs were their friends. Sometimes they even allow them to enter their house freely. The only problem that might arise was the flea.

During my stay there I was probably bitten by unknown insects (maybe mosquito, maybe other type of bugs, or maybe flea), probably was allergic to something (not sure what it was though), or probably was attacked by heat rash. My skin on arms, legs, thigh, waist, stomach, was very itchy. It created bump and filled with small liquid. It just appeared slowly without I realized. I thought it was simply a mosquito bite when I went to the water tap area. But when the itchiness reached my waist, I found it weird as it was covered area (not exposed like legs and arms). Anyway, I even thought I caught the chicken pox!!! But there wasn't any fever and the rash was different from the chicken pox dots. The itch continued for days, and it even bugged me from my sleep. I was scratching it during my sleep like a monkey :(

However, it was allover a very good experience for me. "If others can live that way, so can I," was the sentence I kept repeating myself :) I think I survived la, but that also only for short period. Maybe I'd more prepared in the future hehehe.... *who knows I'll be back again... :P


Tashi Chenzom said...

I read your previous post and I was waiting for its continuation and I knew you had more to narrate. I really enjoyed reading and I got the clear picture of your visit at Uma village (I must say that Uma village is a very beautiful place) through both narration n pictures. As always amazing mam!!

Nim Dorji said...

You really had a nice moment with a person who is really passionate and has a charismatic personality that every one could look up to in the Bhutanese context. Kipchu is really a nice guy i shall admit. He is very simple and humble too. I appreciate what he has been doing. As you have mentioned...typically every villages in Bhutan...that same thing will be experienced like of in the Uma Village...because we have still miles to go for the type of a comfort and facilities we get to enjoy in the urban setting la. Nice write up and really enjoyed your memoir. Tashi Delek!

Rupa KK Gurung said...

I have craved for this post, and here it is. Its beautiful and worth going through it lah. Kipchu is helping you to carry your bag? Yalama he knew how to carry it as well...:P haha... Passionate friend of ours #Kipchu (Y). Keep smiling as always :)
Loved the post mam Rima.
Thanks for sharing with us...
Have a niceday...


sancha rai said...

With nice day wishes, I am so happy to see Bhutan in Singapore through you so well...

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you Tashi! Glad that you enjoyed reading this :) Yes, Uma Village is very beautiful. Wherever you walk, it's all greenery all over. It's such a calm and peaceful place :) I wish you a wonderful weekend la! ^^

Rima Reyka said...

Hi Nima! Een la, our friend, Kipchu, is really a nice guy, simple, and humble! Like you, he also loves to write in Dzongkha :)

I'm grateful being able to stay at his village even with only basic facility available. That's what makes village is unique as a village, isn't it?

Thank you for reading through la and I'm glad you enjoyed it! Have a wonderful day and take care! :)

Rima Reyka said...

Hi Rupa dear! Thank you for reading la! Yalama, you even noticed that, although I didn't mention it directly? Tsk tsk... such an observant you were huh? ^^

Yes la, I couldn't leave my bag without my camera, water, umbrella, etc. It turned out to be quite heavy. He offered me to carry as I had to balance myself while walking since the road path was narrow and slippery :)

Yeah, passionate friend of ours! You should see with your own eyes how passionate he was when preparing the meals for his family :) He appreciated the rest of family members hard work out there in the field so he wanted them to eat well and reenwrgize themselves after a long tiring day! ^^

It's my pleasure sharing it with all of you lah! Wish you a great weekend Rupa! Take care! Xoxo :)

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you Sancha! I wish you a wonderful weekend la! :)

Nim Dorji said...

Dear Rima.....thanks for the compliment and you too take care.

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