Sunday, October 20, 2013

Up In The Clouds

Some friends are very impatient to see my photographs taken during my recent trip to Lunana. I would like to oblige them but I am extremely exhausted and have no energy - both mental as well as physical - for any creative work. They will have to excuse me for the moment.

My trip to Lunana has been a revelation - I learnt things that were beyond my wildest dreams. I am convinced that the communities of Laya, Lunana and Sephu have got to be the richest communities in the whole of Bhutan - the next time I look at a craggy Layap or Lunap, I will be looking at them with a new respect - not with a sense of disdain - that of a smelly, unwashed Bjop!

But it is not so much about their being rich that has me awed. Rather, it is the evolution of their lifestyle - that has me intrigued. The kind of monetary wealth they amass from the collection of Cordyseps is mind-boggling. But strangely, their new-found wealth is not hoarded but opens up opportunities for others. There is a systematic process of wealth redistribution - I love it! This is surely a great subject for an anthropological student to study.

Sadly, disaster is on the way - in the form of motor road. The government is building a road from Gasa to Laya in the belief that it will bring progress and development. What is likely to happen is that it will bring ruin and destruction - because the present way of life will be altered and the dynamics will change. Opportunities will be usurped by the invading carpetbaggers - on wheels. It is sad - but that has always been the case - people sitting in Thimphu have always decided what is good for the rural folks.

I would like to talk more on the subject as I regain my energy. For the moment, I am posting the following two photographs that I hope you will like. In the first one
(shot at 4.57 PM), three of my team members are looking at the Thorthormi Lake that has been almost completely drained. You can see that there is no water there - but the water level mark of the lake before it was successfully drained is visible.

The second photograph was taken at 5.36PM from my campsite at Sinchey - two and a half hours further up into the mountains from Thanza. I set up camp here because I wanted to make it simpler for myself to climb the ridges in the morning from where I want to take the photo of Gungchen Singye and the twin lakes of Thorthormi and Raphstreng. The valley below is completely covered under a thick, white blanket of cloud. Under those clouds are the villages of Thanza, Tenchey, Dota, Tsojo and Thango. If you look carefully, you will see one on my team members standing on the hillock.


  1. Thank you for sharing...not only the remarkable photographs but also your inner thoughts. I don't think you can blame the government for building roads for that is I think one of the first things on the minds of the villagers. It is unfortunate that the road from Gasa to Laya has to be built as it will take away the charm and the unique experience of trekking there. However, try explaining that to the villagers! Am quite certain they would feel that they were being cheated of making progress...

  2. Layaps are beautiful, Lunana is serene is what I learnt from your writing. Hope developments don't change the shape. Good post.

  3. How do I express the delight in viewing the pictures than simply stare at the boundless beauty