Yesterday was a long drive from Bumtahang to Mongar, I drove the morning shift handing over to Paddy at the lunch stop. There seemed to be an over powering smell of marijuana as we left the hotel and sure enough there was an enormous forest of the stuff. It is illegal to cultivate, harvest or consume marijuana in Bhutan but it does grow wild everywhere. It is permissible to feed it to the pigs so that they can be transported the slaughterhouse in a calm and restful manner, probably quietly chuckling to themselves at they wander off to meet their maker!
What a fantastic drive, first climbing above the tropical rain forests into the dryer pine forests, finally summiting a pass as always at a stupa and prayer flags. We simply did not get a straight road of more than 500m all day. As we passed the 140km mark we had passed about 4 cars. There cannot be anywhere in the world with more exciting driving roads and less traffic.
When we got to lunch, in a typically Bhutanese fashion the restaurant had decided to only serve locals. Chimy arranged for lunch to be sent from Mongar and we all picnicked on the side of the road, cooked by the Kings chef on Mongar where he has a home.
The roads were simply fantastic and just a complete joy to drive on. Sheer drops constantly on one side (today usually the passenger side) falling thousands of meters with simply nothing to stop a falling car. There is so little traffic and that which there is drives so slowly, that the dangers are minimal. Frank and Ross's back brakes faIled during the morning but they soon fixed them and arrived on time for lunch. Frank was driving and turned to Ross, "we haven't got any brakes mate" as they were heading down a steep section, "well I cannot help, I haven't got any on my side" he sardonically replied sitting in the passenger seat.
We arrived in Mongar after another simply fantastic days driving.
Tomorrow is the Mongar festival a very popular dance event with the locals. So it's Goes on and off to the festival!
All good here, we are still talking to each other and our business meeting have been regular and successful.
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