|Our journey to Merak - Sakteng from 17 to 22 April 2017|
Three weeks before our trip:
"Where do you think we will go this time?" asked me during chatting with K. "I thought of going to Pemagatshel. I have few friends there,"continued me. "Ina?? What can we see over there?" he asked. "Hmm.. not sure.. Never been there yet. But we can visit my friend's farm, few temples...,"answered me. "Why don't we go to Merak and Sakteng? That's where you wanted to go mo?" he stopped my words. "Hmmm... I wanted to, but can you take such a long leave? We need at least a week for the trip," I said. He paused for a while, "Should be fine," he answered.
After the chat, I browsed the internet looking for the info to trek to Merak and Sakteng. At the same time, he asked around the info from his friends in Bumthang.
The night before our trip:
Both of us stood up at the Bumthang bus station, in front of the bus that put up the signage in front that wrote: "Thimphu to Trashigang." However, it was empty and no one nearby. I looked at him, and he looked at me. "How? This must be the bus mo?" asked me. He nodded. "Let me ask the guy inside that hotel," he said while pointing out the hotel nearby. I saw him talking with a guy, but it seemed that he was not the bus driver and he had no idea about the driver's or the timing when the bus would leave at the next day. We waited again, almost hopeless. We could not buy the official bus ticket as we would only depart from Bumthang station, We could only try our luck to adjust with the available seat unofficially to reach Trashigang. K went asking around one more time and the guy pointed him to the hotel at the opposite side, saying the driver might stay there overnight. K walked inside and asked the hotel's staff. There was another young boy asking for the same driver. In a while, the staff managed to call the driver and he finally appeared. Ohh my... finally!!!
|Our bus from Bumthang to Trashigang :)|
Other than us, the boy was asking if his Angay (who seemed just attending the Tharpaling's wang or blessing that day) could adjust the bus seat tomorrow morning. So three of us. The driver gave K his number and we were saved. Smiling at each other, we finally could feel relieved!!! K met up with his school's friend and chatted for a while. I was hungry. We wanted to eat thukpa at the restaurant nearby, however, it was not opened. We finally decided to go to Bumthang Pizza and ordered one large Pizza. By the time it was ready, it had already been quite late, so I asked for takeaway so that we could enjoy the Pizza together with K's brother at home.
|Feast before starting our journey :)|
At 9.15 pm we finally reached home and enjoyed the delicious Spicy Mixed Pizza. Until now, I still missed the taste and texture of it!!! :P We then started packing our bags, getting ready for our trekking trip. Both of us were quite amateur in it, and did not really quite sure about the situation that we would face. Like we were not sure where we should halt a night. Should we stop at Miksateng or should we continue until Sakteng? Would there be tent and water available? We did not even know where we should halt a night the day after. In Trashigang? Rangjung?
We took out our necessary staffs and put the similar things together. Sweaters, jackets, shirts, warm pants, inner wears, under wears, sleeping bags, toiletries, towels, torch lights, sweets, nuts, snacks, etc. While packing them into bags, K went to the kitchen and prepared rice, oil, salt, chili, garlic, onion, pot, spoon, containers, thermal cup, Korean noodle, miso soup, coffee mix, chocolate powder, and so on. He also made ezzay for our journey. We discussed things together, reminded each other if we missed anything else. When done, we finally went to sleep.
The first day of our journey: Bumthang - Trashigang - Rangjung
Alarm rang at 4.20 am. It was still dark outside and cold air struck once we got outside of the warm blanket. I headed to the bathroom to wash face and brush my teeth. The underwear that I hung outside the toilet's window was harden crisp blown by the freezing wind. K prepared a bowl of Korean instant noddle and reheated sel roti (handmade gift by my dear friend, sweet Rupa Gurung) with fried chicken (cooked with love by dear Devi Raika the night before). We had those with K's own made ezzay. We felt our stomach immediately warmed and full after finishing it all :)
|Lunch stop at Sengor - 17 Apr 2017|
At 5.20 am, K's colleague, Chimi Rinzin, picked us up with his car outside K's rented apartment. We reached the bus station, headed to the bus, and sent our bags into the vehicle's top part. Due to limited space, K and I had to sit down separately. He sat two rows behind me. The bus departed on time at 6 am. Our journey was finally started. The bus took the short cut way through Ura and stopped at Sengor at noon. We had our lunch in the restaurant - kewa datshi, dhall, rice, and K's ezzay.
|Beautiful Stupa on our journey :)|
We were mesmerized by the view surrounding us throughout the journey. It was spring. The grasses were green, so did the trees. My favorite pine trees and their friends were there to say 'hi' to me. They were happy to see me again :)
There were many mothers and babies inside the bus. Often times they busied breastfeeding their babies. It was such a beautiful view to have too :) Soon, we passed by Mongar town. The bus stopped for a while to drop the passenger. The winter weather in Bumthang had turned to summer in the afternoon. We removed our jacket and sweater one after another.
|Short break at Yadi, Mongar|
At 3 pm, the bus stopped again for a break at Yadi. We ordered ema datshi with rice this time, plus a plate of momo, and a big bottle of mineral water. K looked very hungry hehehe... We continued our journey and reached Trashigang bus station at 6.30 pm.
|Trashigang town in the evening|
With no clue, we walked to the center of Trashigang town trying to find out where to go and stay. It was K's first time visiting the area. He called his colleague's friend, Mdm Pem Deki (a pharmacy staff at Rangjung BHU - Basic Health Unit), and she helped us arranging the Bolero taxi from there. It cost us Nu 600 for the trip. It came at around 8.45 pm and it took us about half an hour to reach there. The road was dark and very quiet, not many vehicle around. We felt so relieved when the driver finally came. Trashigang town could be unsafe if we kept waiting and met the wrong people around.
We finally reached the destination. A lady with her daughter came to welcome us. She opened the door one of the room used for patients'check up and let us stayed there for a night. She even lent us the mattress. K carried and put it on the floor. We added our sleeping bag on top and used our bags as pillow. She asked us to go to her quarter for dinner. We washed our legs and face before going there.
|Feeling blessed with warmhearted welcome and meal by Mdm Pem Deki. Name same kadinche-la!!!|
She was very kind serving us delicious food (fried egg with datshi or cheese, and fried cauliflower with carrots, plus pipping hot steamed rice stored at the rice cooker) and fresh pineapple juice to store our energy back from the tiring journey. She and K chit chatted for a while before we asked permission to take leave. She must be very tired too and need to take a rest. We headed back to the room, took a really great bath at the toilet nearby, and finally settled ourselves at the comfortable bed and had a good sleep...