Travel Diary - p 1
In the high Himalayas lies the country of Bhutan, which is nothing if
not unique. Somewhat smaller than the state of West Virginia, Bhutan's
670,000 citizens are ruled by a true king (soon to become a parliamentary
democracy). Its people practice Tibetan-style Buddhism. The national sport
is archery; there are four movie theaters in the country.
When we arrive at Paro International Airport, I am sick and feverish,
unable to bear even the odor of food - one last souvenir of Thailand. Greeting us
is Chozang Tangbi, our guide, and Tandi our driver, from
Bhutan Birding and Heritage Travels, our tour company for the trip. Chozang is
smartly dressed in his gho, the traditional men's attire that consists of leather
shoes, knee-length stockings, and a plaid knee-length robe that looks like a kilt.
The women wear brightly colored floor-length dresses called kiras.
I try but cannot eat lunch in Paro, then it's off to the
capital city of Thimphu via bumpy, dusty roads that are under repair. Night is
spent at the austere but beautiful Hotel Riverview.
7 April 2007
I'm still feverish
and miserable as we drive east toward Dochu La (La means pass in Dzongkha, the
Bhutanese language). Here we find nice birds. Maybe they will begin
to cure me. First is a small flock of Spot-winged Grosbeaks that pose in
comes a sprightly female Green-tailed Sunbird, drawn by Chozang's imitation of a
Collared Owlet call.
male Green-tailed Sunbird finally comes in to set things straight. These
dazzling birds, who fill the same niche as hummingbirds in the Americas, are as
lively as they are beautiful. Darting, twisting first one way then
another, sunbirds are a challenge to photograph but always delightful.
- Later Today we're joined by our cook, Karma.
Heritage Travels knows how much birders love to eat. With
splendid mountain views as a setting, Karma and Tandi cover a portable table
with a roadside breakfast of black tea, mango juice, omelets and sausage and
even hot toast. Alas, in mid-meal I begin to shiver uncontrollably and
must retire to the van to warm up. I'm still not over my illness.