Irregular Posts; Bangkok Bhutan HongKong

  Dec 11, 2015       Andover HomeAgainHomeAgain…JiggidtyJig. “What?  You are in Andover and Meg is in Hong Kong?” “Yupe.  I departed HK on Dec 1st at 6P and arrived in Boston at 9P.”  The joys of timezones.  Good flight as I had been bumped up to “Premium” Economy from the regular economy.  Perks? for a single frequent flyer with a loyalty card?  But my checked luggage was the last of the plane ;~{ Jetlag has gotten to me.  I wake at 2-4AM and cannot stay in bed more than an hour of awake time, even in the dark.  Coffee and at computer work in the before dawn dark.  By sunrise, I have done a few hours of work on projects; prints for Holiday Open Studios, people images for Karen our Teacher/Leader in Bhutan, scanning some very old slides and negatives for a show in January, and plowing through mail/tasks held for three weeks.  Dinner at 10A and a nap in front of a European soccer match in afternoon.  My eyes and brain say “Enough” about 6-7P.  In bed and asleep around 8P. “So, Bhutan?” “Amazing place.”  Bhutanese often call their country “Druk Yul”; land of Druk.  Druk is thunder dragon and the symbol on the national flag AND on my yellow and orange knit toque.  It is strongly Buddhist, with Hindu as a minority religion especially in the lowland south bordering India.  Everywhere there are dzongs, ancient fortifications, now housing a Buddhist monastery and government administrations offices.  We visited many and found many cultural and photographic opportunities. Chilies are a vegetable!! On corrugated metal roofs, red ones are drying in the...

Irregular Posts; Bhutan4

Saturday November 21, 2015        Paro, Bhutan KuzuKuzu, Saturday dawned blue and cold. Dogs in the neighborhood, birds in the eaves of the hotel. The room is quite cool, 56F. Camera batteries charged overnight. We dress in all our layers, not because of the room but because it is hike day. The goal is the Tiger’s Nest, Takshang Goemba. The prediction is for clear blue skies, temps 29 – 74F.  Wow, that’s a range of layers! Breakfast for me is oatmeal porridge with honey, “baked” beans and bacon, bananas, and coffee. Meg and Karen get eggs, toast and honey, and beans. Micheline has altitude issues and will not be hiking. Guide Pema’s bad throat will not let him climb either. He has arranged for a relative and employee, Ugen, to hike in his place.  He had guided Karen the last time she was here. 8AM. Time to go. Frost on the grass. Frost melting in the sun; needles becoming drops. My visible breath leads the way to the van. Tension. Will we be able to climb in altitude? All the way to Tiger’s Nest? My New Balance 1260s and Karen’s 980s seem ready for the trail. Meg has her 500 mile Camino hikers on. Our feet are ready. Are our lungs and quads ready? Guide Ugen and driver Tshiren will accompany us. Guides MUST hike with their clients.  Lone foreign hikers are not allowed. There is a horde of tourist with their guides. The parking lot is full of vehicles. There will be traffic on the trail. Off we go. Then trail is hard-pack dirt, some roots, and foot...

Irregular Posts; Bhutan3

Monday November 16, 2015         Bumthang River Lodge Kuzugangbo la, Quiet in this friendly Chamkhar valley. Clouds cling to the tops of the ridges. Bits and patches of blue surrounded by bright sunlit white cloud move overhead. Some feral dogs are yipping nearby. A row of prayer flag poles standing tall, their narrow flags with prayers holds to the length of the pole. Wind shakes the prayers from them into the sky, up into the clouds. The day begins. We are at RiverLodge, which is run by the guide’s family for three nights. Just outside of the village, it sits on a low ridge overlooking the road into town and fields that line the narrow river. Agriculture and tourism is the main economy. Breakfast of tea, scrambled egg, local cheese, buckwheat pancakes, toast and homemade jams and honey, chili in cheese sauce (ema datshi), melon and apple. Products grown locally are eaten locally. Karen has a project on this trip in addition/conjunction with the photo workshop is to distribute reading glasses to local folk. In Thimbu it was to weavers who work in not well lit rooms with tiny thread. The glasses are of different power and the “task” is to match the lady’s need to see well to the power of the glasses. It is amazing and heart warming to see their expression when they work well. Karen photographs them with her iphone and then shares it with the recipient. Much smiling and enjoyment. There is a wonderful and positive naiveté in the Bhutanese people. Cynicism does NOT seem to abound. They are warm and welcoming. In Bumthang, this...

Irregular Posts; Bhutan2

Saturday November 14, 2015        Trongsa Kuzugangbo la, The road to Trongsa is HORRENDOUS. 160 km of 12 foot wide road clinging to almost vertical mountain sides a “thousand” feet above the unseen valley. They are repairing it and widening it. The power shovels jumble massive and small boulders and rocks and dirt on the road. We left Thimbu at 8AM and arrived at 6:30P, after dark :-{ at the lodge in Trongsa. Road repair equipment works it as vehicles try to get by.  Power shovels on tractor treads lift and dump boulders in to the dump trucks. On one corner, parked deep along the cliff side, was a crushed power shovel with a tread askew and the shovel bentbroken. We sat waiting for a car to squeeze by us; a dirt slide fell in a small torrent in front of us. The driver looked over at the guide and said something low in Bhutanese. He QUICKLY first geared out of that space and bumped up the dirt road, bumped around over and through potholes and roadbed embedded rock . The road workers seem to be mix of temporary imported Indians and Bhutanese. They live in neat hovel camps clinging to the valley side of the road. Some women and a few children can be seen in the area of the camps. During the busiest part of the travel day some of the power shovels are not working. It seems after 3PM all are in operation. Squeezing past construction vehicles or vaseline-slipping past another van is almost a relief from the constant bumpingtossing inside the van.! I should mention that...

Irregular Posts; Bhutan

Thursday November12, 2015        Thimbu, Bhutan Kuzugangbo la HappyBirthday to King 4. He is 60 and the whole country is CELEBRATING the day after a year of celebrating. He abdicated to his son King 5 a few years ago. (It seems King 5 was educated at Phillps Andover and then Newton Theological School.). King 4 was the one who introduced the concept of Gross National Happiness; GNH as opposed to GNP. The King 4’s birthday cake flew into Paro with us from Bangkok.!! It was in a 1 cubic yard box and seat belted into seat 4D, window view. I worried for it as we flew UP THE PARO VALLEY, banking alongside its forested mountain cliffs; very close out the windows. The pilot did tell us “Don’t worry about how close the mountains seem to be.” as we entered the valley. Yes, we flew business/first class because of the problems with luggage limits and other airport stuff. The crew gave us all birthday gifts from the King; a small embroidered bag and a box of lovely layered chocolate cake. Wednesday when we arrived, the whole city was out in the center of this small capital city A large gathering was seated in the plaza, watching music festivities. Three guys with guitars and a guy with drums were on stage when we arrived.  RocknRoll Bhutanese!  For the festivities, everyone was in traditional dress. The streets in the center had been designated pedestrian for the day. Balloons in kids hands, everyone stopping and greeting friends, smile for the foreign tourists, happily allowing and posing for photographs, smiling and enjoying seeing their...

Irregular Posts; Bangkok and Bhutan and Hong Kong

Tuesdayday November 10, 2015; Hong Kong Airport G’Day, First Saturday November at Western Ave Studios was a typical one with a few sales and talking to many people who enjoyed my work in my studio, and my show in the Loading Dock Gallery with Laurie Simko. The usual post reception energy let-down for the show was lessened by the need to finish packing and get to the airport. Monday 10PM, NO traffic going into Boston and into the airport or through TSA security. “Last fight of the night.” so only one pane of people would be there for the TSA and 1:30 AM take off. At midnight there are FEW stores and services available.  Wait for the boarding. Big decision: go to sleep immediately or wait for dinner and then sleep. Cathay Pacific does a good job with food and wine even in economy, so wait. Good choice.  I went to sleep at 2:30A for about 6 hours. It was that “not quite deep kind”; you are aware of dreaming when you “come up” a bit but can never remember what was in the dream. The map showed the ongoing plane route due north from BOS; Rimouski Canada, Labrador City, and the North of Canada. Later on we were over Russia and then Mongolia on the way due south to Hong Kong; just under 16 hours. HK airport is still busy at 5:30 AM. Food court with FREE WIFI is open but not the stores. OK.  7:30AM and the stores are beginning to open. Givenchy just opened below the food court balcony. Now we need to find out what...