We started from Thimphu for a casual Friday outing. 5 friends on an outing, unplanned, however, it’s almost like every destination we have been to, however, well-trodden turns out to be an adventure. It must be the bond or perhaps the way how all of our destinations are so close to nature, the feeling of being close to the beginning of being human must be the culprit to how we feel. And hence, we decided to go to Haa valley.
We set out to our adventure early in the day. The whole week was spent working extra hours as it always is before an adventure to clear off our desks of any work that was to be done on that week.
There is no telling how soothing the feeling one gets to have a long day’s exploring ahead and you have the company of friends.
The idea was we complete all of our work ahead of Friday, have a rough travel plan in mind and leave the rest to sheer luck of what would await us.
And sure enough as planned everything was completed before the day and we started towards Paro from Thimphu. It was a rather cool day, summer days in Thimphu don’t get much hot. The road stretches about a half an hour from Thimphu to Paro and winds its way through Chunzum. Chunzom literally translates to the meeting of rivers. It’s considered to be halfway from Thimphu towards Paro. A huge picture of the Royal Couple and the Prince wished us unto adventure with their smiles.
Our rough plan was we would visit the valley of Haa via Chelela, the highest pass in Bhutan at 13000 feet and return via the other way that directly brings us to Chunzum.
In Paro, the road winds upwards from Bondey and follows along towards Haa through the thicket of the forest full of pine trees along the silver-lining of the Himalayan mountains. The pine trees follow you mostly wherever you go in Bhutan. I like it, I like how the smell of pine lingers unto the tip of your nose giving you a sense of the chilly climate and the freshness in the air you breathe, you could almost taste the feeling. I had longed for this freedom for about a month. Working long hours in a 4 walled room feels tiring after a while no matter how much you love what you do.
The next one hour’s drive took us to Chelela. I got out of the vehicle and spent some time taking in the beauty of the place. It is a lovely place and we had the thick mist coming towards us from the mountains beyond. A ritual was being held nearby and some tourists taking pictures.
In about 3 hours we reached the valley of Haa, we talked about work, life and everything under the sun on the way. Haa is a small town in the valley below the road you have to travel to get there. It’s a silent place and people are mostly busy going about their lives looking after the cattle or tending to their homely affairs. We made a quick round in the calm and the quiet town and stopped at a place there for lunch.
For lunch we had local delicacies, the food of Bhutan, from pork paa to spinach datsi to Jasha Maru and chilies, lots and lots of chilies. There is a thing with us Bhutanese and chilies, sort of the made for each-other candidates.
After lunch, we decided to take a walk around the town and spend about 1 hour wandering around lost in our conversations.
The next stop was somewhere silent among the clouds in the mountains. We stopped halfway en-route and clicked ourselves some silly and some cocky pictures. The place is almost untouched by human save for the roads and a few scattered dwellings. After about 30 minutes of staring into the clouds and a little shivering, we headed back to dear Thimphu.
And here’s the thing about home, no matter how much you want to get away from her, no matter how tired you are of seeing her every day, the moment you leave you to start missing her. I had already started missing my dear Thimphu, the noise, the silences, the smell of pines and the winding streets. Alas, I will not miss her until next time.