Sunday, 15 November 2015

Rest day

Today we have a rest day before setting off on two long days to the south and back.

Charlie and Hector had the wheels off the Buick and are happy that everything is fine with the brakes which sets us up nicely for tomorrow's drive. The rally splits in two with half the cars taking the short route and half the long. It's the latter for us which will involve approx 200km drive to the south. It will probably take us around 7 hours but that is highly dependent upon the state of the roads

I left early this morning to walk down to the local Temple dedicated to fertility and virility. It was a nice walk through the paddy fields and a local village. It is supposed to be the most beautiful temple in Bhutan and as a popular tourist destination has the first signs of shops and traders selling trinkets. A small girl asked me for money which hasn't happened in Bhutan before. On my way back I met Paddy and Jane on bicycles heading off. Paddy climbed to the local Nunnery where by chance the father of the old kings four wives (who are four sisters) was attending a show with all his entourage. There were almost no other tourists there and he was given a lovely welcome! What a bluebird.

Whilst Paddy was socialising with the Royal family I went white water rafting down the river past a magnificent Dzong (a combination of a temple and a fort). Four boats went down and the first two battled for supremacy the whole way down. I am delighted to report that my boat crewed by Xavier, Hector, Doc John, George and I won although we were absolutely knackered and soaked by the end. Their supremacy in numbers was dwarfed by our youthful technical rowing skill. Xavier shouted from the back, Doc John rowed one stroke to every two of mine, Hector lost his oar and George kept falling over so it was left to me to steady the ship. So nothing changes then!

We collected the car and returned to near the Dzong where we had lunch with the local Governor, Chief Judge and Head of Police. It was fascinating to hear how Bhutan will develop, their investment in education and infrastructure and the concerns they have about being able to maintain their cultural and national identity. Lunch ended with the Governor going for a spin in Bill's 8 litre Bentley, the Chief Judge in Chris' 4.5 litre Bentley and the Head of Police in Max's 30/98 Vauxhall. Numerous other cars gave trips up the road to various locals and I think that a lot of good will was created. Interestingly there were 7 murders in Bhutan last year and only 50 crimes in this region, the biggest problem they have is the porous nature of their borders.

We then drove to the Dzong where our Buick was swamped with small children whilst we parked. It is an amazing building sitting at the confluence of two rivers. Packing tonight and leaving reasonably early in the morning.

Everyone is horrified with the news from Paris. When we are amongst such law abiding and peaceful people it becomes all the more unbelievable that such savagery can be committed so close to our homes.


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