Mum....take another sedative before reading this
15.10.2016 - 15.10.2016 21 °C
We had been warned about the state of the road to Gangtey but unfortunately, most of the warnings had been understated. They are currently in the process of upgrading the roads but there is much to do and progress appears slow.
Leaving Thimphu just before 9.00am, we headed east taking about an hour to drive the 30km to Dochula Pass, our first stop. The 108 memorial chortens covering the hilltop were built by the Queen Mother to honor the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed when fighting the Indian rebels in 2003. The views from the memorial were spectacular, looking down the valley and across the Bhutanese Himalayan range. Conditions quickly change at this elevation of 3140m. Misty clouds rolled in whilst we were here and gave the chortens a mystical appearance.
The road to this point was reasonable but as we continued towards Lobesa and Wangdue it deteriorated severely. Recent rains had caused numerous mudslips and landslides. Conditions varied and we experienced it all. In some sections the road was extremely muddy and rutted, in others part of the road had dropped away down the mountainside and in other parts the road was blocked by huge boulders requiring excavating equipment to clear the road. We gave full credit to our driver, Lobzeng who negotiated the conditions with great skill and safety. It was not the most comfortable ride and definitely not for the faint hearted, but despite the roads we did manage to see some lovely scenery around Lobesa and Wangdue, where golden terraced rice fields clung to the hillsides running down to the river. It was here at Wangdue that we stopped for lunch at a pretty little restaurant called the Dragons Nest, taking about 3 hours to travel about 80km.
Whilst the roads to this point were in poor shape, they got even worse when we left Wangdue. We experienced more delays due to landslides and roadworks. Some roadworks were to widen the road and others were to clear up the landslides. There were times when I avoided looking down as I did not want to see how close we were to the rubbly edges where the road dropped hundreds of metres. Luckily the magnificent panorama kept us distracted for most of the trip.
As we reached Lowa La Pass and made our descent into the valley, we knew we were almost at our destination. We had rattled along for about 6hrs to reach Gangtey and the very beautiful Phobjikha Valley, total distance from Thimphu approximately 150km.
Our hotel for the next few days was the very rustic Dewachen Hotel. Built in the traditional Bhutanese style, our room was furnished with yak wool covers and wooden furniture, and included a small wood burning heater. But the best part was the fantastic view over the valley. We took advantage of the late afternoon view from the dining room and enjoyed a couple of quiet drinks there before dinner. Once again, it was a buffet dinner which tonight lacked the variety and flavours of our previous hotel. Never mind, I needed to ease up on the food I have been eating anyway.
Took a while to get our little heater fired up but when we did it made our room so very cosy. Wrote up the day's entry in my journal in between blackouts, which are a regular occurrence in the hotel. As it was too difficult to continue by candlelight, I gave up and went to bed.