Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1790: Bhutan - Land of the Dragon
By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2009
Page 20 of 24: Drive to Mongar
Drive to Mongar
Beyond Ura, the road began a steep climb up the mountain side of Thrumshing National Park, through a deep and narrow gorge with rocky cliffs on opposite side. There was no flat land and no settlement. The road climbs to Thrumshing La at 3750m. We were in the cloud so there were no views. There were lots of Chortens and prayer flags.
The road switchbacked down the far side of the pass through fir forest to the wide open pastures of the Sengor Valley. Sengor Village is an isolated settlement on the side of the valley surrounded by large potato and buckwheat fields. Cows were grazing along the road verges.
The road became more dramatic after Narling Road Camp, a few white houses with well tended gardens at the side of the road. It cut across the vertical cliff face of Narling Dra on a narrow ledge with a few concrete blocks on the outside edge in the most dangerous places. The cliff was so high and steep it was impossible to see the top or the bottom. There were some substantial waterfalls and plenty of chortens.
The road dropped steeply and lower down the vegetation got more lush as ferns and creepers appeared. There were huge poinsettia bushes in flower in the hedges. There were banana trees growing wild along the sides of the road. It felt much warmer and more humid.
Rice is not grown and corn is the staple crop. Small wooden huts along the road sold bags of ground corn or corn flakes.
We stopped in Limethang a new town built about four years ago. The buildings haven’t been painted yet. After crossing the river we began to climb back up through the trees to Mongar which is built on top of a hill.
Mongar is a new settlement and there was nothing here before the Dzong was built 1930-50. The ‘Old Town’ grew up around the dzong and has lots character with large well kept traditional houses with shops underneath along one side of the street. On other side is an open area with clock tower and water wheel. There is a large archery ground and football pitch (with cows grazing).
A local character attached himself to us and insisted we went to watch archery. He followed us back to Mongar trying to act as our unofficial guide until we met a small girl who told us in perfect English that he was ‘a bad man because he drank too much’. At this point he decided to say goodbye. We were struck by how good the English of the children was. They had a wide vocabulary and asked many questions.
There is a large new development on the road into Mongar housing workers from the big new hospital, teachers and admin workers from the Dzong.
We visited Mongar Dzong first thing in the morning. Inside the courtyard monks were practising dances in preparation for the festival in a few weeks time. Some of the dances are very old, dating from the time of Guru Rimpoche in the 7thC and can take over an hour of strenuous dancing.
We were booked into Hotel Wangchuk, a large new hotel overlooking the town. This is the only tourist hotel in town and was busy. Superficially it looked very stylish with a large reception area leading into an open courtyard with rooms round. We had a large spartan room which wasn’t as clean as it could be with basic furnishings and dodgy fittings and bathroom.
The dining room on one side of the courtyard was described as having “a lovely terrace next to the dining room where can you can eat meals with a stunning backdrop of the valley in the distance”. What it didn’t mention was smells from the septic tanks below...
The evening meal was average but breakfast let them down badly. The buffet was cornflakes, cold fried eggs, soggy underdone toast, and banana (the best bit). There was little staff presence and no attempt to replenish the food.
This was the only place we stopped that we did not enjoy. We felt it was pretentious but failed badly.
|Car Rental||Hotel Booking||Flight Booking||Train Tickets||Books, Maps, Events|
|Europe Cell Phones||Long Distance Cards||Luggage, etc.||Travel Insurance||Classifieds|
Copyright © 2000 - 2013 SlowTrav.com, unless noted otherwise. Slow Travel® is a registered trademark. Contact Slow Travel