I’m in a hotel in Bangkok on my way to Bhutan for this months 15 day photo tour to Bhutan. Got to get up at 3am tomorrow morning for the flight to Paro which should take about 4.5 hours, including the stop at Guwahati airport in India. Last time we got stuck on the runway in India for about 6 hours waiting for the fog to lift from the Paro Valley so the pilot could see the runway and not actually crash into the mountains.
It’s certainly an exciting descent, going through 3 valleys with the edges of the cliffs brushing the wingtips… Not the sort of thing you would want to do if the valleys are filled with dense fog! Anyway, the 6 hours on the runway turned out to be very interesting as we were in the plane with about half the government of Bhutan (in economy class), who seemed to be a lovely humble bunch who were more than happy to chat to the wide eyed curious foreigners about the working of their little Himalayan country.
I can’t say I’m actually hoping it will happen again, 6 hours in sweltering Assam province of India in a metal tube in the baking sun with no A/C was not something I am keen to repeat, but still, sometimes the most amazing things can come out of trying circumstances.
What does all this have to do with the image I am posting? Nothing really, other than it was shot in Bhutan and I am on my way there now…
The image is actually of a young novice Monk studying his lessons in the tenuous warmth of the early morning sun at the Gangtey Goemba, a tiny Monastery in Central Bhutan in the Phobjikha Valley
Dates are up and I am open for bookings for my Photo Tour of Bhutan for 2015. Each year I like to modify the nature of the tour from things I learn the previous years, so it just keeps getting better and better. Everything from which hotels are nicer or have better food, to complete changes to times of year or itineraries. This year I have made changes to everything!
Bhutan Photographic Tour 2015
The tour for 2015 is from April 27th to May 12th which is later in Spring than last years tour. I have also shifted from 2 buses with 2 Bhutanese guides to 5 4WD cars and 4 guides (and me as number 5), which means we will all be a lot more comfortable with plenty of space for camera gear, lots of leg room and you can ask as many questions from the guides as you like!
Perhaps the biggest change for this next tour will be the internal flight from Paro to Bumthang in Central Bhutan, where we meet our cars, drivers and guides. This way rather than drive out from Paro to Bumthang, then drive all the way back (there is only one road), we fly out and drive back much more slowly, with less hours spent driving per day. This means more time meeting the locals, seeing the sights and making photographs.
Still only 10 people.
Something that hasn’t changed from last years tour to Bhutan is that it’s still strictly limited to a maximum of 10 people. Small groups are nicer to travel with and much more personal.
If you would like to read more about next years Photographic tour to Bhutan, all the details can be found on my Bhutan Photo Tour web page, including the early bird special price that will save you $500 if you book and pay your deposit by November 30 of this year. You can download the booking form directly off the page, or if you have more questions, you can use the contact form at the bottom of the page or give me a call.
The Bhutanese love to eat chilli, they eat it with almost every meal, but more like a vegetable (actually a fruit) rather than a seasoning. The chilli is actually the main dish. To achieve this they need a lot of chillies, so almost every small farm holding throughout rural Bhutan has at least one field of chillies, some have very big fields of Chillies, and every market will have a large selection from green to red, and from fresh to dried.
The image on the left shows the Iron Bridge Monastery in Paro province during the chilli harvest. The field in the bottom left is al chilli bushes, and the red spreading down the hill from the monastery are the freshly harvested chillies drying in the sun. Click on the image to see a bigger version.
Not everyone has a big piece of land to dry their chillies on, so what better place to dry your chillies than on the roof of your house… or convent?
This is one of the few Buddhist Nunneries in Bhutan (in Thimpu, the capital) and this young Buddhist Nun has been sent up to the roof to collect the chillies that are dry and ready for storage for the winter. Seems like it was a nice spot in the sun to rest and contemplate for a while… and blow bubbles.
If you would like to visit Bhutan with me next year go to my Bhutan Photo Tour page for details.
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