TRAVEL GONE WRONG: WHY 4 MONTHS OF NON STOP TRAVEL MADE ME HATE TRAVEL!

TO TRAVEL NON STOP FOR 4 MONTHS NON STOP! That was my travel fantasy when I was still working in Navi Mumbai in a 9 to 5 corporate job (Fine, make that 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. job). Sitting at my desk all day, I would dream of packing my bags to never return. My day dreaming would be assaulted with more official excel sheets (some of which I used surreptitiously for making my travel plans for next few months). Circa 2016! As I mentioned in an earlier blog, 2016 was a magical year for me travel wise.

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Me at Tiger’s Nest Monastery aka Paro Taktsang

Thanks to my new freelance lifestyle, I had the freedom to realize my dream of traveling non-stop. I had accepted a bit too many professional invites for Press Trips and planned many of my personal travels as well. So from August 2016 to November 2016, it was non-stop travel for me for 4 months. Between this period, I showed up at my brother’s house (I was staying with him till then) only for few hours. I would be back home only to wash and change clothes, rest or deliver already delayed projects before starting my next travel. I remember before my Amazing Trip To Ladakh, I took a post midnight cab to home, picked fresh clothes, unpacked and packed my luggage again and leave before 5 a.m. to catch flight to Leh. Within those few hours, I crazily packed my bag, answered mails and even submitted assignments. As I was unpacking and packing I realized much of my room resembled a war zone. I wasted a lot of time to find my things. Because I had had no time to organize my life!

COMPLETE GUIDE TO PARO TAKTSANG AKA TIGER’S NEST MONASTERY IN BHUTAN

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Offbeat Bhutan : Cycling in Unseen Thimphu

Since November end to present day (February 2017), I have been declining Media Trips because I want to concentrate on my writing, earning and other pursuits in life.  I will start traveling again hopefully towards the end of February 2017. Till then, I just want to be at peace. I used my sabbatical from travel well to write more articles for print travel magazines and newspapers, to burn lot of food every day in my kitchen (I am a hopeless cook), play with my friend’s dog, catch up on movies and dining with my friends, organize my desk. I caught up with food festivals, film festivals, book fair and restaurant hopping in New Delhi too. I had spent quality time at 2 of my friend’s quiet homes and offices to write pending blogs. The month of December was most productive as I wrote around 20 blogs in December alone, most of it on Jordan and Bhutan etc. I also managed my finances and raised pending bills and earned more. I further augmented more wealth for me by landing up for assignments for me. On one of the days, I wrote 4 articles in a day! And oh, I caught up on a lot of sleep too. It was a creatively satisfying phase and I hope to repeat it again.

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Click to read about the mystery behind Penis paintings on walls of Bhutan near Chimi Lhakhang

I have realized that I can’t be location independent. I realized that my fantasy was just a fantasy! When I actually tried to live my fantasy of traveling non-stop, I ended up cancelling my own trips. After being on road and in air for so long, I had realized that I do like a base to come back to. (Coz बाबा को base पसंद है). I also realized that no matter how much I love travel, it is not the only thing I want to do. I was itching to read lots of books, even newspapers (I am known for reading 2 months old newspaper even when not traveling), catch up on Bollywood and world cinema (I saw 15 Iranian films in between), meet old friends, spend time with parents and nephews and nieces. On most of my travels in this period I carried books to read. Not even once did I get time to read those thanks to my packed schedules during travel. I talk to my parents in Lucknow daily on phone since 2008, when I left home. I had to request them to hang up because I was too tired (mentally) to even talk)

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I went to a remote village Sehore in Madhya Pradesh to see how Delhi girl Sanjana Kaushik is changing lives in rural India.

Even places like Ladakh, where I had planned 16 days trip started to make me restless. Even though it was my first time in Ladakh, I was constantly craving to get back home. This, when I don’t even like Delhi or Ghaziabad, my adopted home since 1 year! I realized I started to enjoy travel less and on every travel, after a few days, there were moments when I just wanted it to end right there. Perhaps if I was a newbie traveler, I would have still enjoyed it but after having traveled to more than 150 destinations in India since 2008, most of it solo travel in shoestring budgets, I was near saturation. I didn’t want to kill travel for me and since December 2016 I took a strict sabbatical from Travel. Not very long ago (Till just a few month ago), I used to crave for such a trip. From being Fired for travelling too much in 2015 to Tired of travelling too much in 2016, I had seen a paradigm shift in my travel aspirations within a year, a bit too fast. Henceforth, my focus this year onwards is to choose my official trips carefully.

  • I don’t want to travel for more than 10 days in a month.
  • I also want to travel more and more with parents, friends.
  • That said, I realized how much I crave to go back to my original Solo Travel Style. I did manage some amazing Solo Travel experiences last year. I hope to plan some epic solo travels for myself this year.
  • I want to choose my Press Trips more carefully. I should be charged up about the destination before committing.
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Taj Balloon Festival near Taj Mahal Agra was the highlight of my trips.

This break from travel was also important because I finally shifted to my own rented apartment in January 2017. When I shifted from Navi Mumbai to Ghaziabad to stay with my brother in November 2015, I knew I would move out within a year. But I was unable to even find time to go apartment hunting because I was hardly seen at home. Much of January was spent in organizing my life and cutting the clutter. From August 2017 to January 2017 (staying at 2 of my friend’s homes) I was literally living out of suitcases and backpacks wearing the same set of clothes over and again. It was fun and challenging but also cumbersome.

Before Ladakh in September, a Media Trip to Bhutan for 10 days happened to me in August. After enjoying Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Haa Valley at leisure, I spent quality time with parents at Mussoorie and Landour.   September was marked with 16 days in Ladakh. After Ladakh, I made a solo trip to Mumbai, Bangalore and Agumbe, Ikkeri, Kaledi, Shimoga, Jog falls in Karnataka. It was a mix of flights, rickety buses and sleeper class trains. My train to Mumbai from Delhi was not even sleeper class. It was an overnight Chair Car journey in Gareeb Rath.  September was indeed my busiest month.

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Did you know about the Corn Village Bhutoli in Mussoorie? Mosaic Hotels helped me find!

By the time it was October, I had started cancelling my own travels. Never before had I stood at a railway platform with my backpack and cancelled my own tickets. As I sat in metro to Nizamuddin railway station, I was boggled by the amount of work pending. The horrific visions of messy desk and room nagged me further. Upon reaching, I just cancelled the sleeper class train ticket to Surat on my cellphone and returned back to home. I promised myself to travel to Surat next winter to sample the seasonal dishes Ponk and Oundhiyo. Never before in my life had I done something like this. I even cancelled my much awaited trip to Kolkata on Durga Pooja in October. I had wanted to do it since eons. When I was so close to realizing that dream, I cancelled the ticket myself because 1) I was tired and 2) I had so much of freelance work pending). Before this, I explored Madhya Pradesh (Satpura, Bhopal, Pachmarhi, Sanchi, Sehore and Bhimbhetka.) for 7 days. I also stayed at parents’ home in Lucknow for sometime during Diwali. I had plans to visit nearby Ayodhya, Faizabad and Varanasi but I was too tired and just wanted to chill at home and eat some comfort food made by mom. November was all about hot air balloon ride near Taj Mahal and a quick trip to Boat Festival in Goa. I almost said no to these 2 invites. But it was so tempting I had to go. This was the time when I started to slow down. In reality, my 4 month long non-stop travel thus had brief moments of rest at home, thanks to the cancellations.

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Alongwith Naropa Festival, I also attended the Ladakh Festival in Leh.

I don’t know if I will travel like this again (Though I still have some crazy travel plans) but for now I want to take it slow. Kudos to those travelers who spend months on road! Before this trip, the most I had travelled at a stretch was one month in Nepal in 2015 (Everest Base camp Trek and Kathmandu). I remember I was itching for a base even then.

It taught me that we should all understand what personality types we are and make travel plans which suit our personalities. I would love your views on this. Does the same thing happen to you as well or do you love living out of suitcases and backpacks? Do let me know in the comment section below.

This song from the Bollywood film Lootera sums up my current state of mind well.

ना उड़ने की इस दफा ठानी परिंदो ने भी वफा जानी. शिकायते मिटाने चली; सुबह बेदाग है!”

(“Having decided not to fly, even the birds learned to stay this time! I answered all the complaints; the morning is spotless now!”)

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I took some time off from Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart and went to see Sanchi Stupa. Mesmerised, I spent all day here.

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Spotting Gaur aka Bison and other wildlife at Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh

WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

OFFBEAT BHUTAN: HOW CYCLING NEAR TANGO AND CHERI MONASTERY HELPED ME DISCOVER THE UNSEEN THIMPHU!

TANGO AND CHERI MONASTERIES in Thimphu and Cycling in Bhutan are often overlooked by the tourists in Bhutan. Our car covered 15 kilometers (30 minutes) from the Thimphu City to arrive at the gushing Wang Chu River.

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The bridge that leads to Tango and Cheri Monastery, Thimphu.

Some furry street dogs rested under the huge penis painting on the wall. (Read here about why they paint penis on the walls in Bhutan?) The wooden bridge transported the tourists on the other side. A huge painting of Guru Ringpoche dwarfed everything around it. Hundreds of small stupas in bright colors laid on the foot of the painting and in the crevices and cuts of the mountains. Devotees put these as offering along with Bhutanese and Indian notes which no one steals. There was absolute silence in the air except the chirps of the birds and the sound of the river. The air was even fresher than the pleasant capital city of Thimphu.

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Due to paucity of time, we decided not to hike up to the Tango and Cheri Monastery. Though I am sure it must have been an exciting hike. The lack of tourists makes it an exclusive experience to be enjoyed in solitude or with a loved one. Bhutan Bookings, the group with whom we were traveling, carried cycles for all 5 of us bloggers in a separate vehicle. As soon as the cycle was allotted to me, I wasted no time in hitting the pedal. 2 of us decided to walk the entire stretch though.

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The rest of us started together and then kept finding and losing each other as we rode on our pace and stopped at our own whims. The best thing about cycling is that it offers a more immersive experience. Rather than just passing through your destination, cycling helps you slow down, observe things minutely and absorb more. I did not know that Thimphu has great locations where one can cycle. Thanks to Bhutan Bookings which made us discover this joyful activity.

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We passed a rural hut, built entirely from wood. It was a departure from the official Bhutanese architecture. I stopped to see the hut closely. As I turned my head I was scandalized to see tiny structures peeping from green mountains.

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The monastery looked like the Tiger’s Nest. What made it different was the fact that a) there were many buildings in concentration, b) the mountain was greener and of course, c) the fact that it is easier to reach there. The river and the street docile dogs were my constant companions in the initial stretch. The air was perfumed with the dense foliage everywhere. A lone monk passed by. His maroon robe complimented the yellow flowers and dark green hills.

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We made a pit stop near a small Stupa for water. There was no way we were not stopping at the bridge ahead. I parked my cycle on the wayside and stood on the bridge. I was gobsmacked at the volume of water which gushed noisily through the dense forest on either side.  The prayer flags fluttered over the violent river. A little ahead another religious shrine stopped me in my tracks. A woman with few kids was offering prayers. A little ahead was the dramatically installed water powered prayer wheels.

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The inclines became steeper by now. I pedaled harder only to be rewarded with breath taking views of the verdant valley before. Charming bridges, clear water, tiny houses and tall prayer flags waving elegantly in the distance gave it a dream like quality. I decided to sit here for few minutes. Soon, all my other friends joined me, including those who chose to walk the stretch. We spent some time here and decided to call it a day. The cycles were loaded again in the vehicle and we drove off to have an authentic Bhutanese Lunch in the Folk Heritage Museum.

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Prayer wheel powered by water. We came across this while cycling in Thimphu, Bhutan.

Soul Window Tips:

  • Wear loose pants. Cotton track pants are best.
  • Carry water bottles. There are no shops en route.
  • Wear helmets.
  • No need to be scared of the street dogs. They are few and are docile.
  • Keep at least 2 hours extra to hike up to the Tango and Cheri monasteries.
  • It is great activity to be enjoyed with friends or family.

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Responsible Tourism- My Moral Policing

  • You are passing through a village. Don’t disturb the locals.
  • Don’t litter the place.
  • Don’t play loud music. Enjoy the silence.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THESE BLOGS ON BHUTAN:

A QUICK TREKKING GUIDE ON TIGER’S NEST MONASTERY AKA PARO TAKTSANG

WHY THEY PAINT PENIS DESIGNS ON THE WALLS OF BHUTAN

DRAYANGS: THE DANCE BARS OF BHUTAN

THE HAA VALLEY: BEST KEPT SECRET OF BHUTAN

ALL YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PARO

MUST DO THINGS IN THIMPHU: 30 EXCLUSIVE PICTURES

WHITE WATER RAFTING IN PUNAKHA: WHEN I JUMPED IN THE RIVER

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Disclaimer: My trip was sponsored and all the logistics were taken care of by Bhutan Bookings. Click here to plan your vacation in Bhutan with them.

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Got any question/comments, ask in the comment section below so that it can benefit other readers.

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L to R – Dipanshu, Swati, Manjulika, Parnashree and me on completion of the cycling trail near Thimphu, Bhutan

I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree and Swati in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

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I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree and Swati in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

WHY IS EVERYONE SO CHILLED OUT AT PENIS ART ON BHUTAN WALLS: CHIMI LHAKHANG

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I HEARD FEMALE GIGGLES as I was concentrating on taking pictures and videos of huge phallic signs on the walls of Bhutanese homes. “There are so many of them, in a variety of colors and designs. It’s weird.” The white woman quipped. Many people from (supposedly liberal) western countries were as aghast on seeing phallic symbols as the (supposedly conservative) Asians. Chimi Lhakhang is the place associated with such symbols. Though you can see phallic symbols across Bhutan, you find more of such symbols near Chimi Lhakhang.

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The penis images painted on walls are outrageous. Some have ribbon tied around them; some are shown engulfed by a dragon. Some are even shown ejaculating.  I was amused to see penises with eyes, wings and hands as well. Each one of them is erect and comes with hairy testicles (Some ‘shaved’ too). You can’t afford to miss them thanks to their explicit nature and size (From tiny ones to as large as an adult human).

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As I walked on the lush green hilly terrains to reach Chimi Lhakhang, I was amused by graphic pictures of phallus on the walls of homes and shops. Some of it was aimed at tourists, some authentic. Kids played nonchalantly in the shadow of the wall art while men and women went about their work, not embarrassed of passing such symbols every now and then. In conservative Asian cultures, this is an aberration, even a mild shock!

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Prayer flags fluttered wildly in the unending rice fields as cows grazed nonchalantly in the undulating fields. A dog followed us throughout as we negotiated narrow dirt tracks and open drains to reach the Chimi Lhakhang. Women roasting ‘bhooja’ (Dry Snacks also popular in India) in an incongruous hut filled the air with a comforting fragrance and warmth.

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The cool breeze slapped our cheeks and we would take pauses to soak in the tranquility of the place and admire its raw beauty. Tens of red robed kids were chanting under a tree in their al fresco school.

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As I entered the temple, a child monk approached me and blessed me by softly banging a 10 inches wooden penis on my head. It got me curious and I asked my guide Sonam the reason behind the mystery.

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Sonam transports me to 15th century. Lama Drukpa Kunley (1455- 1529) popularly known as the divine madman of Dragon lineage established the monastery in 1499. Folklore has it that he subdued a cannibal demon goddess with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’. Following this event, the monastery was established on a hillock in Punakha by his cousin.

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A famous poet, monk and Buddhist scholar, he introduced an alternative school of Buddhism in Bhutan. A connoisseur of wine, women and finer things in life, he broke the tradition and introduced a school of thought which was unashamed of sexuality and encouraged his followers (mostly women) to shun greed and embrace a honest and spiritual life. His sexual adventures are the stuff legends are made up of. It is said that he even employed intercourse as a blessing to his female followers. Through his unorthodox teachings, he enlightened those who listened to him. His influence is still palpable in Bhutan. The lama Kunley saw the hillock (where the monastery is situated) as the ‘breast of a woman’.img_1008

Even today, childless couples head to Chimi Lhakhang to seek cure for their infertility. Also known as the ‘infertility temple’, locals come here to seek blessings. The wooden penis, which the divine madman brought from Tibet is used to bless the women who seek to cure the couple’s infertility. Couples also come here for the naming ceremony of their children.img_1105

The penis figures are also known to ward off the evil spirits and gossips which explain its presence on the walls of the households. However, I was told that in urban areas of Bhutan, the numbers of such figures on walls are dwindling thanks to the growing prudishness and self censorship. Also known as the ‘mad saint’, his unprecedented teaching style was laced with humor, songs and socially unacceptable behavior. He popularized the depiction of erect penis figures outside houses along with a flying wooden penis on the top of the main entrance of the house, much like the ‘toran’ popular in India.

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MORE BLOGS ON BHUTAN:

THE HAA VALLEY: BEST KEPT SECRET OF BHUTAN

ALL YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PARO

MUST DO THINGS IN THIMPHU: 30 EXCLUSIVE PICTURES

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Tips:

  • Carry Water Bottles. There is a uphill path at the end of the walk which leaves you thirsty.
  • Wear shoes and not slippers. Beware of puddles and open drains.
  • Talk to the locals. They might end up offering you some ‘bhooja’ from their kitchen.
  • Wear hat and goggles since Punakha is warmer than elsewhere in the Paro-Punakha-Haa valley- Thimphu circuit.

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How to reach:

  • Our car left Thimphu at 9:00 am and reached Dochu La at 9:45 a.m.
  • After a break of 45 minutes, we left Dochu La at 10:30 a.m. and reached the road leading to Chimi Lhakhang at 12:15 p.m.
  • At 1:30 p.m. we reached Chimi Lhakhang. Though people take 30 minutes to reach Chimi Lhakhang from the approach road, we stopped many times en route because it was gorgeous.

The walk from approach road to the Chimi Lhakhang top is through an easy trail near the village Sopsokha. It is barely 10 kilometres away from Punakha. We left Chimi Lhakhang at 2:45 p.m.  and reached Punakha Dzong at 3:15 p.m.

My trip was sponsored and all the logistics were taken care of by Bhutan Bookings. Click here to plan your vacation in Bhutan with them.

I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree and Swati in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

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Where to Eat: I would advice to eat at the many restaurants as you you start walking on the dirt tracks. This will give you the energy to keep going! I ate a sumptuous buffet (Noodles, Ema Datshi, rice) at Chimi Lhakhang café. Sit at one of the window seats which overlook the green valley. Beware of the large wooden phallus decorated dubiously at a corner in the washroom though.

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When to go: I was twice. April was slightly hotter than August. I preferred the breezy August weather. It was not cold in either of the months. All you need is light cotton clothes. Morning visit advised.

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Buy: You can take a phallic souvenir from the many shops. Key Chains, Show pieces, even a penis wearing a gho(local dress) are some of the interesting picks.

Pics above: (L to R): Kids playing oblivious to the graphic phallic symbols, the variety of penis ‘for sale’, the wooden penis above the door of a shop.

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Got any question/comments, ask in the comment section below so that it can benefit other readers.

Email me for collaboration : abhinav21@yahoo.com

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HAA VALLEY – EXCLUSIVE PICTURES AND STORY ON THE HIDDEN PARADISE OF BHUTAN NO ONE TALKS ABOUT!

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Offbeat Haa Valley in Bhutan. Way to our Homestay in Haa Valley

OFF LATE I HAVE OFTEN BEEN caught dozing off during the cab transfers. Blame it on my expanding girth (Delhi Belly?), my growing age or 8 years of travel. As our van moved from Paro to Haa valley, a series of exclamations woke me up. The travel bloggers in our van were sighing at the misty Chele La Pass. I peeped out of the window, eyes half closed, to see a series of white flags fluttering wildly against a grey sky. Before I imagined that I was still sleeping and this is just another ‘unreal’ dream, my blogger friends jolted me out of my stupor and forced me to come out of van.

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These dogs greeted me at Chele La Pass! Bhutan is all about unconditional love! On the way to offbeat Haa Valley (Picture by Dipanshu Goyal)

Not caring about the slight drizzle, I moved about silently as a bunch of dogs, (tails wagging, ears stuck to its head – signs of affection) came running to me. They chose me out of all the people. I value this welcome much more than the garland and tikka welcomes at fancy hotels. It was a silent moment. We were the only people there at that time. Throughout our 10 day long journey in Bhutan, this was the only misty place we came across. At approximately 13,000 feet, it is the highest motorable pass in Bhutan and connects Paro to Haa Valley. None of us had been to Haa valley before and it set the tone for the remaining journey.

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Me at Chele La Pass. On the way to Haa Valley, Bhutan (Picture by Swati jain)

It was pitch dark and still drizzling as we reached the 100 year old restored farm house in Haa Valley. Exhausted, we were still curious how the Haa valley looks likes. Never mind, as I stepped out of the van, I inhaled the rain soaked smell of soil deeply, listened carefully to the bell which rang in a distance (A Cow? A Prayer wheel?), touched the wooden railings of the dirt track we took to reach the farm, tasted the Haa air. Sporadic lamps (Few and far between) danced in the distance. I was still not sure what Haa looked like, but I was sure how Haa felt like!

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Somewhere in Haa Valley, Bhutan!

The night was spent admiring the beauty of the farmhouse we were staying in. It was a restored house built in the traditional Bhutanese style. The wallpapers in the room were artistic and had Buddhist themes painted all over. Since it was an old style house, there were no attached bathrooms for any of the rooms. You don’t mind such things when you want an authentic experience. Cultural Immersion has always been about getting out of one’s comfort zone. I had always wanted to stay in a Bhutanese house and that wish was fulfilled here. The dinner was simple organic Thali (pre plated meal), flavorsome! A post prandial walk in the garden and midnight conversations followed.

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We stayed in this restored farmhouse cum homestay in offbeat Haa Valley, Bhutan!

We woke up early the next day for a morning walk around the village. The sounds and smells we experienced the night before got a face. We discovered it is a sparsely populated village. There were large empty stretches between clusters of mud and wood houses. In our 2 hour long walk, we did not bump into a single person. Some people did go about their chores in their houses, some tending to their farms. The houses were large and often with a big lawn, with angry barking dogs. Some houses seemed ancient. Cows roamed around nonchalantly.

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This dog didn’t like me. Fine, hated me! My Peta work, notwithstanding! At offbeat Haa valley, Bhutan

The empty wooden bridge above the water stream waited patiently for someone to justify its presence. Snow capped mountains made it all look even more majestic. The cows grazing in the green expanse next to a wooden hut made it look like Switzerland. Somewhere in the middle of our walk, I got the epiphany that we should have planned a longer stay here. It is not every day that one gets to converse with oneself and the nature in comforting solitude.

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The lonely roads of offbeat Haa Valley in Bhutan!

As we left the farm house post breakfast, an old man playing with his cat smiled at me from his second story window. The Bhutanese frame of the window and his fondness for gibberish etched the memory of this moment forever in me. A few steps, as I walked on the dirt road to sit in my van, a kid, perched on his father’s shoulder smiled and waved at me. I don’t know why but that moment humbled me. It made my city life seem meaningless. I sat in the van, slightly upset. I refused to peep out of the window one last time. Because I know love happens when you do that! People in Haa know how to melt your heart, one artery at a time! In a non noisy way!

WHAT IS ALL THE HOO HAA ABOUT?

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Good Byes are difficult! Always! At offbeat Haa Valley, Bhutan

Being an agrarian nation, 70 % of people in Bhutan live in rural areas. They depend on farms and cattle for the livelihood. Bhutan is abundant in natural resources what with green mountains, mysterious forests, voluptuous rivers accompanying you wherever you go. I got a glimpse of this even in urban areas.

I have been to Bhutan 2 times, once with parents and again with travel bloggers. I missed seeing Haa Valley the last time when I was here. Just like many others who stick to the traditional Paro-Thimphu-Punakha circuit. Haa Valley is the perfect place to experience the traditional lifestyle of Bhutan amidst a calm atmosphere. It is a great place to indulge in the backdrop of rich culture manifest in prayer wheels, fluttering prayer flags, vibrant close knit communities and a lazy languor that hangs in this village.

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Walk around the farmhouse! At offbeat Haa Valley, Bhutan

With an area of 1706.8 square kilometers, Haa is one of the smallest districts of Bhutan. It runs north east to south west, neighbouring Paro, Chukha and Samte. With a population of approximately 12,000 in 63 villages, Haa is the second least populated dzongkhag aka district in the valley.

CULTURE AND TRADITION

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Farms of Offbeat Haa Valley in Bhutan

People of Haa are called Haaps. They celebrate the New Year much earlier than people in other parts of Bhutan do. The Haa New Year called Lomba (meaning: To carry the year) is celebrated on 29th day of the tenth month (usually November) of the Bhutanese calendar.

Ancient shamanistic traditions are practiced here along with traditional Buddhist rituals. The annual ritual to honor Ap Chhundu, the guardian diety of Haa includes the sacrifice of a yak. It is accepted that doing so will ensure a year of prosperity for the haaps for an year. The deity is worshipped by the men in his form as Pholha Masang Chhundu.

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Traditional Bhutanese House in Offbeat Haa Valley, Bhutan!

FOOD IN HAA VALLEY, BHUTAN

The valley of Haa is fertile and people grow millet, potatoes, barley, rice, wheat etc. Many apple orchards pass us as we drove through the valley. I also saw farms of Quinoa ivory, Huancayo, Negra Collana.

Habi Hoento aka Hoentey is a local dish cooked during Lomba, the new year. It is a steamed dumpling stuffed with pungent grated turnip, dried turnip greens, mushroom, garlic, onion, chopped cabbage. Occasionally ginger, mustard seeds, walnut, chilli powder, salt, butter and oil seeds like poppy and sesame  are also added as per individual preference and spending capacity.

Habi Ruto: Yak products are common in Himalayan regions. It is a dried variety of Yak Cheese popular in Haa.

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The little girl who regaled us at our farm stay cum home-stay in offbeat Haa Valley, Bhutan!

POINTS OF INTEREST IN HAA:

Temples: The verdant hills of Haa are home to many picturesque temples such as 7th century old Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black temple) in a tiny village called Dumchoe. Lhakhang Nagpo is situated above Lhakhang Karpo.

Tagchu Goemba: It is a 100 year old monastery in Lungse Kha Village and was founded by Dali Lama Sangay Jamtsho. It is said that its structure is similar to Nub Dali Dzong in Tibet where Lama Sangay Jamtsho served a tenure as the abbot of the Tibetan monastery.

Shekhar Drak Temple: Built at a foot of a cliff, it appears as if it is an outcrop of the hilly terrain.

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Switzerland anyone? I don’t know. I have not been to Switzerland! At offbeat Haa Valley, Bhutan

Wangchu Lo Dzong : Haa is the ancestral home of the Great Royal Grandmother, Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck. Her Grandfather Gongzim Uguen Dorji commissioned the construction of the Wangchu Lo Dzong, a former district center. Its structure is akin to Wangdicholing Palace in Bumthang, the seat of first and second Kings of Bhutan. Dumcho Dzong stood here earlier. It was destroyed in fire. Since it is a relatively a newer construction (established in 1915) when compared to ancient dzongs, a prefix sar (new) is often added to distinguish it.

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On the way to our home-stay in the offbeat Haa Valley in Bhutan

Dobji Dzong: This fortress at an altitude of 6,600 feet is 11 kilometres away from Chunzom. It was built in 1531 by Ngawang Chogyal. The five storied fortress stands tall atop a ridge, jaw dropping ravines descending to the basin of Pachu-Wangchu. It was a center of Drukpa Kagyu teachings.

The hill that looks like a horse: Behind the Gongzim Ugyen Dorji Higher Secondary School, our guide Sonam pointed to a hill. A large portion of it looked like the face of a horse. We were told it is a natural formation. There is a suspension bridge near the school.

The view from my #SoulWindow is away from the touristy frills!

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The hill that looks like a head of a horse! At the offbeat Haa valley, Bhutan

Disclaimer: My trip was sponsored and all the logistics were taken care of by Bhutan Bookings. Click here to plan your vacation in Bhutan with them.

I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree and Swati in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

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Ghost Town? At the offbeat Haa Valley, Bhutan

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Love is all around you in Bhutan. The unconditional variety! (Picture : Dipanshu Goyal) At Chelela Pass. On the way to the offbeat Haa Valley in Bhutan

WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

Quick-Guide : Must Do Things in Thimphu, Bhutan with 30 Exclusive pictures!

Of all the cities I have been to in Bhutan, Thimphu had the most modern amenities and yet it seemed like a charming small town when compared to my country India. The many gushing water streams and water falls on the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway gave way to multi story apartments as we entered Thimphu. A little taken aback and disappointed to see ‘modernity’, my nerves were calmed when the guide (and now friend) Karma told me, “Only upto 5 stories are allowed in Thimphu since it is in the Himalayan Earthquake prone zone.” I was impressed that despite the frills of modernity the capital city of Bhutan has been able to preserve its culture and traditional way of living. It is always heartening to learn that how Bhutan does it right. Every single time! Here are the important sites I visited:

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Bird’s view eye of Thimphu city

Changangkha Lhakhang :

Lhakhang means a temple in local language. It is the oldest temple of Thimphu dating back to 12th century. As I climbed up the steps, a fat black dog refused to welcome me. He was a typical Bhutanese Dog, lazy, content and sleepy. I stopped and soaked in the views of the city from the top. As I entered the central courtyard, I found myself caught in a flurry of activity. Turned out some important religious ceremony was going to be held in few hours.  An ornamental empty chair addressed the many chairs in front of it. I salivated at the half eaten red rice and moved to turn the huge prayer bell at a corner. The unusual black and gold Prayer wheels at Back Kora (aka Pilgrims path) caught my attention. Most tourists miss it but I recommend it for its uniqueness and the sweeping views from the top.

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The entrance
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The courtyard (Preparation of a ceremony is on)
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Huge prayer bells

Motithang Takin Preserve:

I was excited to see the weird looking animals unique to Bhutan and Tibet. The national animal of Bhutan looks like as if the head of a goat is fixed upon the body of a cow. The animals are of no use to humans. In a way they are ‘useless’ to humans. However the government protects and respects the bizarre animal. Initially they were kept in a mini zoo but later released on ethical grounds. However, the animals strayed in the main city area. Thus, it was decided to shelter them in a large enclosure in their natural habitat. It was amusing to see them lazing around in the company of more active species such as Sambhar and barking deer.

Pic Above : Takin (Click to enlarge)

Statue of Sakyamuni Buddha:

You can see this statue from most of the places in Thimphu. Even from the suite at Taj Tashi where Indian PM Mr Narendra Modi stayed during his visit. It is one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world not for nothing. I almost felt as if the Lord Buddha was watching over the entire city of Thimphu. The 51.5 meters tall Buddha is made of bronze, gilded in gold. The (good looking) asuras surround the Buddha Statue with offerings in their hands. A board near the entrance tells me that it is adjacent to the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park. Owing to its height it is too windy and one gets the best views of the Thimphu city from here.

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c Sakyamuni Buddha (2)
(L to R – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree, Swati, me)
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The ‘asuras’ with their offerings to the Buddha!

Tashichhoe Dzong:

This massive Fort cum administrative centre exists in the most important area of Thimphu. Built near the Royal palace and the Parliament. The dzong (Fort) serves as the administrative centre as well as the spiritual hub of the city. Since many offices run in the premises, the Dzong is open for only 1 hour in the evening, i.e., 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Owing to its location, it is a high security zone. All the gadgets are screened before you are allowed in. Also one is allowed to take pictures of the Parliament from the top of stairs at the security check point. It is suggested that one reaches early so that one gets to spend maximum time inside the Dzong. Avoid wearing Shawls since you would be most probable asked to take it down. The inner courtyard houses many impressive buildings. Take time to notice the many painting and carvings on the wall.

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Pics above (Tashichhoe Dzong)

Zilukha Nunnery:

Also known as Thangthong_Dewachen_Nunnery or Drubthob Goemba is a religious building run by nuns. An impressive chorten welcomes you. Nice place for those who like quiet a not many tourists go here. The view of the Thimphu city and the Tashichhoe Dzong are impressive from here. A stop here is a must!

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Zilukha Nunnery
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View of Thimphu from a road near Zilukha Nunnery

Memorial Chorten It attracts people from all over Thimphu and beyond. Many people, especially elderly come here to pray, meditate and socialize. Some even bring along tiffin since they stay here all day. It’s great for people watching or even join the pilgrims as they circumambulate around the impressive chorten. Bhutan doesn’t have beggers. However, you will meet some Buddhists who beg for alms! Do contribute if you can. It was walking distance from my hotel. I passed by the Indian military hospital and as I approach the memorial, the first thing that strikes me was its golden spires. This Tibetan style stupa was built in 1974 in the memory of third Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. As you walk in, the huge prayer wheels on the left vie for the attention and so does the impressive white Stupa buzzing with religious activities. I recommend that you walk into the room where hundreds of butter lamps are lighted daily.

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The butter lamps and the devotees at Memorial Chorten
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Memorial Chorten is great for people watching
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The grandma trying to convince the grumpy kid of Bhutan’s happiness quotient!!

The National Folk Heritage Museum: It is a great place to sample authentic Bhutanese cuisine. You can try the alcoholic drink ara here. The meal starts here with Bhooja (Much like the Indian version) and crunchy cornflakes. I recommend you order buckwheat pancakes (goes with a very spicy salad they make), Ema Datshi and a spinach saag I loved eating there. The place also houses a model of traditional Bhutanese home with each section explaining what that particular room is used for. In many rural areas in Bhutan such homes are still the norm.

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The hostess at National Folk Heritage Museum serving us ‘ara’, a local alcohol. It had a strong flavour.
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The dining area at national Folk Heritage Museum. Authentic style! In case you can’t sit on floor there is a sit out area in the garden too!

The Royal Textile Academy: You will be ushered to view a brief documentary on the sartorial traditions of Bhutan. Watch if you have time. Next you can head to the museum to understand the textiles of Bhutan well. The museum houses many variations of gho and kira, traditional dresses for men and women, respectively, in Bhutan. You can also buy many hand made garments/wallets/knick knacks or watch the women weave in a separate room on the ground floor, just across the courtyard.

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Weavers at work in Royal Textile Academy
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Inside Royal Textile Academy

GPO: Visit the GPO in case the idea of a personal postage stamp excites you. You can turn a picture of yours into a postage stamp and send it back home on a postcard.

Norzin Lam: The most vibrant lane of Thimphu. A walk here is a must. Evening time, just before the sunset is the best. You can shop for knick knacks, eat at fancy restaurants, loiter around the Clock Tower (If you are lucky you might catch an al fresco music concert here). A late night stroll promises equal fun. The nightlife of Thimphu is vibrant. If you are teetotaler a thick hot Thukpa soup (Nu 20) wil warm your cockles. Many vendors sell it by the roadside. Alcohol lovers can go on pub hopping trail or visit the secret dance bars called Drayangs for an authentic local experience. READ ABOUT DRAYANGS HERE. Try to time your Thimphu visit on a weekend. The mood is more upbeat on Saturday and Sundays. The handicraft market sandwiched between Norzin Lam and Taj Tashi is a must visit.

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Buy interesting souvenirs from the handicraft market, yes a phallus too!
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Handicrafts market!

Pub Trail: I visited 2 pubs and was impressed by the nightlife of Thimphu. The city which appeared calm in the day light revealed its wild side to me. The youngsters ditch the traditional costumes for western outfits, groove to western and Bollywood numbers with abandon and guzzle their beer unapologetically. The cigarettes, which is banned in public areas in Bhutan also show up in discreet corners. I enjoyed dancing away the night at Viva City. There is a live bar here and open air sit outs where I enjoyed conversations as it drizzled lightly. Walking distance from here is Mojo Park where I and my friends glued ourselves to the sofas as the local band belted one chartbuster after the another. Someone told me that a member of the Royal Family of Bhutan was sitting close to us.

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The locals join us 5 at the Mojo Park
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Live performances at Mojo Park

Disclaimer: My trip was sponsored and all the logistics were taken care of by Bhutan Bookings. Click here to plan your vacation in Bhutan with them.

I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree and Swati in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

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The official buildings near Tashichhoe Dzong!

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Tashichhoe Dzong : A bird’s eye view!

WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

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A local man contemplating at a shopping complex opposite GPO. You read it right! A Shopping Complex!

Offbeat Drayang Trail : The open Secret of Bhutan!

When in a new city, I try to explore the same place at different time zones. So, when I have some spare time, I try to visit the same place at early morning, afternoon, evening, night and even late night. Every time zone reveals different characters of a place and has different charms, surprises and secrets which start spilling once you dig deeper.

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Thimphu at midnight!

In a quest to discover the split personality of Thimphu, I ventured out from the comfort of my cozy hotel room 10 p.m. to discover the nightlife of the Bhutanese capital city. Though not as lively as the night scene of Mumbai or Delhi, the Bhutanese youth sure know how to enjoy in own unique style.

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Strolling past Norzin Lam, the main shopping street in Thimphu; lonely and at age 31, I miserably tried to fit in with the Bhutanese youngsters who for a change had shed their traditional Bhutanese dress for the trendy western outfits. They talked, shared jokes, romanced, laughed, ‘openly’ smoked (Contrary to the clandestine puffs! Smoking is banned in public places!) and hogged on the Thukpa ( A Tibetan soup) from one of the many Thukpa sellers.

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Thukpa magnets!

It was a cold April night and thukpa was just the right thing for my soul. It was a strange version of Thukpa prepared with pureed rice and cheese. As I continued walking, my hands warmed by holding a hot cup of Thukpa, all kind of songs escaped the night clubs and found their way on the main street.

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Mid night Thimphu

Some were Bhutanese songs , some English but what amused me and intrigued me was an Akshay Kumar-Sonakshi Sinha Bollywood song “Chinta ta ta” playing at full volume. I swallowed the sticky soup in a jiffy and chased the sound and ended up at the stairs leading to a basement night club. I gingerly approached the 3 men in their 30s cocooned in Bhutanese dress Gho and smoking outside the club.
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Me : “Is this a Drayang?”
He : “Yes”
Me : “Hi, I am from India. Can I go inside? (I don’t even remotely look like a Bhutanese!”)
He : ” Yes, why not? Just make sure you don’t take pictures upfront. Just melt in the crowd and shoot. Enjoy” (Thumps me up and gives a naughty smile and a wink, I have no idea why!)

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Mid night Thimphu

My pre travel research on Bhutan taught me about the concept of Drayangs in Bhutan. I stumbled upon the blog of travel blogger Richa Gupta who has explored drayangs. And ever since I badly wanted to ‘discover’ one. Earlier on the same day, I tried to locate one but failed. Guess, it’s easier to find one in the night. These are similar to the infamous dance bars of Mumbai.(Yes I have been to some. Fine, judge me!) There is booze , there are pretty dancing girls. But the similarity ends there.

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What makes Drayangs different from Mumbai Dance Bars is that :

1) In Mumbai dance bars, all kind of pervert gentry throng the bars. Police, politicians, your neighborhood lech, professionals are the regular patrons. While in Drayangs, both men and women, mostly middle class, educated , young , urban Bhutanese frequent. I was the only Indian there apart from an odd nervous looking European tourist brought here by some local guide , perhaps, to reveal to him the little secrets of Bhutan.
2) Unlike the Mumbai dance Bars, the dancing girls do not wear outrageous and revealing clothes nor do they resort to titillating, vulgar moves. They are modestly dressed in their tame traditional dress Kira. But that doesn’t mean they are boring. Once on stage, they are naughty, precocious, cheerful and energetic, some even interacting with the live audience.
3) The songs played may not necessarily be all dancing songs. Though that’s the norm, but at times you can catch one dancing on a slow Bhutanese romantic song.
4) There is no secret room behind the doors where you can take the party to ‘next level.’
5) Though Drayangs are often accused of being a hub for sexual networking, I failed to find any obvious signs. There will be no pimps to approach you, neither will there be any doorman to hold your hand and snatch any leftover money from you as tip.

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However, one thing which is eerily reminiscent of Mumbai’s dance bars is that the dolled up girls will approach you all by themselves (No tout handling them) and sit next to you. The similarity ends here. She will come with a diary and try to make small talk with you amidst all the high decibel music. While the bar dancers in Mumbai will apply the same modus operandi to make you sleep with them and basically rob you of all your money, all Bhutanese dancers want from you is to request a song and pay a paltry Rs.100 for it.

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But they are as pushy as their Mumbai counterparts to convince you for the same. Again very unlike Mumbai’s dance bar girls, Drayang’s dancers are not sullen faced or sad nor do they wear the depressing “I , the exploited, want to run away from here!” look. They are rather genuinely cheerful, upbeat, friendly, unapologetic and rather enjoy their work. Most are Bhutanese or Nepalese born and brought up in Bhutan (Mostly South Bhutan is known for Nepalese). And they stand/sit very close to you while making conversation without being sexually suggestive. They sure know how to take your breath away. So, a spare oxygen cylinder is a must!

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I hesitantly entered the cool looking disco and perched on one of the wooden benches.
‘Hi, you from India” (20 % oxygen deficiency!)
“Yes” (Me, smiling but eyeing her diary knowing pretty well that it’s not me which has charmed her to me but the money I can bring to her bank account!. At this age, I can’t afford delusions.)
“Do you speak Nepali?’ (50 % oxygen deficiency!)
“No!” (though I actually wanted to say, “Babes, you are absolutely gorgeous!”)
“What? Why? Don’t tell me you can’t speak Nepali. Thoda sa to aata hoga? (You must know at least a little Nepali.)
“No sorry! Really sorry.Sirf Mohani lagla hai aata hai” (Me apologizing profusely as if I am born a Sherpa and still can not speak Nepali! Mohani Lagla hai is Nepali My Heart Will Go On! Yes, I have picked some Nepali.)
” You have come here alone? (90 % oxygen deficiency! Help!)
“Yayy, And I am missing my friends badly.” ( I actually did, the booze, music, dance made me wish I had come here with close friends.”)
“That’s sad. Aaawww. Aaawww. AaawwwAaawwwAaawww. (Girls everywhere have the same language. OK, crucify me for sexism.” )
“Yayy”.
“You want me to dance to a song? You choose the song and I will dance on it. (Eyes sparkling with excitement.But yet businesslike) You want Hindi song?”
“Yes, why not. You choose any Hindi song. How much to pay for 1 request?
“Rs.100 only”
Diary entry done. Business rendezvous over. Time to honor the deal.
She jumped on stage vivaciously. And waved to the in house DJ, sitting right behind me, next to live Bar. “HINDI, HINDI!’
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Being a minority, I sat at the last bench to avoid any attention! But the screams of Hindi Hindi drew all curious eyes at me. (Woo Hoo, I am feeling like a foreigner!)
I looked odd, old, foreign, incongruous, lonely. Basically I stood out. Embarrassed, I pretended to behave and look like a Bhutanese. Just as my act was culminating into an epic fail (My face simply refused to mutate into Danny Denzogappa’s face!), the hit Bollywood ‘item number’ ‘Munni Badnaam hui” blared from the speakers and the attention shifted. I gave a constipated smile to no one. And I breathed.

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The local Bhutanese, still gulping down their Red Panda beers and Druk 1000 beers, seemed to enjoy the Hindi songs more than the slow love songs in Dzongkha (Bhutanese). The stage had a huge mirror as its background with gaudy decorations (like cheap plastic flowers).The dancers looked like diva in their own right, their fair skin changing color in the reflected glow of flickering multi-hued lights and disco balls. I sat back and enjoyed the strange atmosphere I landed up in while politely declining other dancers who approached. Of course with a false promise of returning back the next day. Ah, the pain of ‘pardesi babus’ and their false promises.! They created a genre in 90s’ Bollywood.

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As I complimented ‘my’ dancer for her spirited performance, I sensed a commotion as the clock inched towards 11:00 p.m. , the closing time. On weekends the drayangs are open from 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. It was the time for the last song which was a slow paced Bhutanese song (almost a lullaby!). Two semi-drunk (but still very well behaved) local Bhutanese boys joined the ladies on stage and merrily danced away till it was time to call it a day! Bhutanese sure know how to share bonhomie and good times!
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It was one of my weirdest night. And I loved every moment of it. It was odd to see Bhutanese damsels dressed in a traditional ‘Kira’ and dancing gracefully on some crass Bollywood item numbers. The contrast was striking and amusing. As soon as the song ends, I stood up, avoiding eye contact, looking and feeling awkward. My disappearing act could beat that of a superhero. I emerged from the basement bar to face light drizzle and cool breeze. I gave a constipated smile to no one. And I breathed. Once again.

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Locals dancing with girls

How to locate a Drayang :

Asking around might or might not help you. Most Bhutanese will be either unaware of it or will want to not discuss it. Avoid asking women about the location of a Drayang. They may get uncomfortable or may make you uncomfortable with their ‘You pervert’ look. But despite the fact that the drayangs are not sleazy or vulgar places, you will get stares and winks if you ask for one. These dance bars are rather innocent community clubs where young people just hang out and have a great time. (Though, there is always some reservation against it as being the hub of clandestine sexual networking, but I could not find any obvious signs) Best option is to ask college going young boys strolling on the Norzin Lam, the main shopping street in Thimphu. Don’t beat around the bush. Be honest, say, you are a tourist and simply want to see a Drayang.

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The quirky Traffic booth in Thimphu at midnight!

Best time to visit a Drayang :

Most Drayangs are open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. on weekends. If you are not a local, it’s best to visit at around 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. on a weekend since there is more crowd at that time and its easier to get lost and avoid awkwardness of being the centre of attention.

Some Drayangs I managed to locate:

1-  Gaa Teen Trophel Khang Drayang : Face your back towards Chula restaurant on Norzin Lam, opposite Taj Tashi. Now move inside the first narrow lane at your right. You will see some bored, grumpy youth playing snooker. Ignore them and take a left. The Sign board is very visible and you may even hear faint music. Take some 10-15 steps at the 1st floor in the building number 40.

2-  Wangyal Drayang : Located at Norzim lane, bang opposite the RICB office (Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd) near Taj Tashi. It’s easy to miss it since the sign board is not really flashy and it’s in a basement, though on the main road only. It’s lively and a popular choice for most. Easier to locate since its on the main road and the music often escapes the closed door.

3- Tashi Tagay Drayang : Located opposite the Taj Tashi on the Norzim lane.

VIDEOS

Check out the short videos on Drayang I shared on my You Tube Travel Channel. Click link below to view:

  1. Bhutanese Women dancing to Munni Badnam hui

      2. Bhutanese woman dancing on slow Bhutanese song

You can read Richa Gupta’s version of Drayang here

I explored Bhutan with Bhuatn Bookings. Check them out for a hassle free vacation.

THE VIEW FROM M Y #SOULWINDOW IS BIZZARE

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Me returning to my hotel alone in midnight!

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WARNING : COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE IMAGES AND TEXT HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.