Aw, man, are you telling me we're going home just two days from now? That's not fair.
Who would want to leave this place?.
What fun to watch the Road Scholars settle their bar bills when the front desk had no change.
I'll miss this place.
Now this was interesting, to me anyway. Remember those puffy bread-like things we saw in bags back at the market in Thimphu? No? Well, I do. Anyway, Tim has stopped the bus this morning by a roadside market just to buy a bag of the things to share on the bus. I asked him what they're called and he very carefully spelled it out for me: makhu. That's what he said. I've got it right there in my iPhone notes, so I know I'm right. But...when I got home I couldn't find "makhu" on the internet. Well, it's a town in India, but apparently it's not something you can buy at a market in Bhutan. So I did some Googling based on a comment about this I'd received on Facebook. Sharla said the things looked like "poori." So I looked that up and sure enough what I found looked much like these puffy things. Only poori are made from wheat flour and I was sure this stuff was made of rice flour. So I did some more Googling and found that rice poori is called Tandalache vade. But wait, there's more. Then I sent Tim a note in Facebook messenger and asked him to straighten me out on this. And here's his reply: "'Maykhu' is a local word for this rice flour bread. I don't think that would be in Google's dictionary. I don't think it has an English word." But no, Tim, you actually can Google "maykhu" if you know how to spell it. Check the first paragraph on that page. So that's the final word, and boy did I spend a lot of time figuring this out.
Tim has busted up the maykhu loaves so we can all share.
And this is what a piece of it looks like. It was like a tough potato chip, quite greasy, and it needed salt. But it was totally worth experiencing. Thanks, Tim.
On the road again, and look -- there they go again, passing on a curve.
Now Sonam is passing on a curve. Yikes!
I guess that as we near the end of the trip we're all getting a little loose.
Sonam is playing Radio Kuzoo over the intercom and Tim is putting on a show.
The Highway Patrol has pulled somebody over. Not us, though.
Prayers in the mist.
Lots of prayers.
Tall. colorful prayers.
Hey, haven't we been here before? We saw this on Highway One!
Highway Two looks suspiciously the same.
There's a roadside market. Don't see any maykhu though.
Street sweepers. Doesn't this stretch of road look nice? Almost nice enough to make you forget the more ... interesting ... parts of the trip.
Now there's a pretty scene.
And look! It's our old friend Big Buddha.
Back to Thimphu.
But we get a different view this time.
There's a sports stadium down there.
And over here is the Jungshi Paper Factory. Let's have a look.
It's another one of Bhutan's small industries: making paper by hand.
First you peel the bark off the daphne tree.
Then you soak it real good.
Get it nice and soft.
Then you boil it down in that vat.
This guy is making sure Tim gets the story right.
Heat it just so.
Then run it through this oversized food processor.
Til it comes out like this.
Then you stir it real good.
Til you have a big vat of glop.
Then you mix it into a big vat of starch
And with lots of practice, someday you can do this too!
You end up with a stack of individual wet sheets that don't stick together because of the starch. Well, that's what they say. And apparently not so long ago an Indian tourist came through here and decided to stick his finger right down through all these wet sheets, ruining everything. "Well, nobody told me not to!"
So they put up a sign.
Then you squeeeeze all the water out of the stack of sheets.
And you peel the pages off the stack one at a time.
And you spread them out on this flat metal heater to dry them.
And you peel them off the dryer.
And voila! The final product, Deh-sho paper, was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayer books.
Let's visit the gift shop.
Dennis and Wayne have spotted some Christmas gifts.
Nina is shopping too.
Looks like she's made a few purchases.
Everywhere you look.
Vegetation is growing back after a fire. See how I'm learning stuff?
We've left Thimphu and we're on our way to Paro, the last stop of the trip. If I weren't having such a good time I'd be depressed.
That track is used to train the student drivers of Bhutan.
I think some training is in order. This guy passes on a straightaway...
Even when a car is coming.
The roof on that thing is covered with rocks.
And the roof on this thing is covered with ... chilies! Those Bhutanese love their chilies.
There's the airport again. We're going home soon. I can't stand it.
Still pretty, though.
It's Paro Dzong, the setting for Bernardo Bertolucci's film LITTLE BUDDHA with Keanu Reeves. Just so you know.
I thought they'd stopped putting these on buildings in the big cities. Apparently I was wrong.
That's more like it.
See? You can have decorations on your buildings without a single flaming thunderbolt of infinite wisdom in sight.
Let's go to Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong).
I hate to admit it, but they're all starting to look the same.
Not that they aren't impressive.
I mean, just look at that.
And the views are always spectacular.
Whichever way you look. Again.
And there's a bridge across the river.
And it's cantilevered.
This is a good picture, I think, but it would be perfect if only I'd been able to show what was keeping the kid so fascinated: He was marveling at Nina's blue hair.
See the lazy stray dog?
See him now?
This is the earth deity they build the loos for. I think her name was Nu. Whatever, just remember Tim's warning: if you pee on a loo she'll give you a rash..
It's big, it's old, it's beautiful, it's a dzong. And I think it's the last one we'll visit.
Dennis contemplates the dzong.
If it's our last one, maybe we should hang around awhile.
Everyone's enjoying their final view of a dzong.
Our last hotel in Bhutan, the Kanghu Resort.
The sun's setting; the day's almost done.
But before dinner, Tim and Sonam have a presentation on tomorrow's hike to the Tiger's Nest, the event we've been building toward the entire trip. It's a six-mile round-trip hike up the side of a mountain. We start at 8,500 feet, pause for tea at 9,500 feet, and continue to the lookout at 10,250 feet. Whew. Then DOWN 750 steps to a bridge and then back up to 10,150 feet and the Tiger's Nest Monastery. Then, just like with Highways One and Two, you do it all again backwards. It's going to be quite a trip.
But first, a celebration.
It's Leslie's birthday!
Happy birthday, Leslie