The itinerary said 3 nights in the Bumthang Valley, the last day to be spent at the Tangbi Mani festival. But we found out that the calendars were wrong. The festival would be held the day we’re leaving Bumthang, so we would only be able to spend an hour or two at the festival, then drive to our next destination. We would have a free day in between. What would we do?
The girls spoke with our guide Thinley and decided that we would visit a school, bringing along some school supplies for the kids. Then we would visit a honey cooperative. Bumthang is famous for their honey. Afterwards we would visit the Swiss Farm. The Swiss Farm is a development project founded by a Swiss man, one of the first to work in Bhutan, and now run by his son. They produce Bhutan’s only swiss cheese and only native beer, called Red Panda. We would also get to have our horoscope read by a Bhutanese monk.
Our first stop was town for the notebooks, pencils and erasers. I was also on a quest for potato chips (crisps) to no avail. I only found cheese balls, which are a cross between a puri and cheetos, but that is another story for another day. The school was a wonderful experience. We gave the gifts to the principal who said that he would save them for end of the year prizes for the students. Then we were allowed to visit the classrooms. We visited 3 classrooms from 3rd grade down to first. The children were wonderful. Two classrooms performed songs. We all took a million photos of enthusiastic subjects, too many to ever post. Everyone wanted a portrait taken. “Please miss, a photo of me, please miss send me the photo.” Cynthia got the name of the principal so that we can mail the pictures. No jpgs sent via email this time!
Then we drove to the honey cooperative. There are 50 members that produce clover and buckwheat honeys. This time of year, only clover honey is available. I would have loved to try the buckwheat honey. The clover was delicious.
On the way to the Swiss farm, Thinley said that we were passing a bakery and did we want to stop. YES we did! It was nothing like we were dreaming of but we did enjoy a treat! We had a choice of a swiss roll, an eclair or a piece of cake all in a wooden display case in the corner of a simple large room.
We weren’t able to tour the Swiss Farm but did visit their store. We didn’t even buy any cheese. We had tried some at the hotel at breakfast and lunch and it is delicious. We bought 1 bottle each of local apple wine, brandy and the Red Panda beer to try. All except the Red Panda were excellent.
After lunch we had a 3 PM meeting with the astrologer at our hotel. He tells your fortune based only upon the year that you are born.
I went first. 1958. The results were fascinating. My number is 6, my element is earth, my color is yellow and my animal is a dog (sorry Walnut!) He told me that I have not so good luck for my lifeline, luck, soul or power (again, not so sure I agree with that). He told me that I had had many previous lives. I had been born 3 times in the lower part of the wheel of life cycle as a hungry ghost. I was born once in heaven, once to a nobel family, then once as a stag and a bird and finally now as a human. In my next life I might be born into the BOB religion of animal sacrifice or as a girl or a bird. To change my fate, the astrologer suggested that I have a statue of Dukar made and have it blessed by the monks. In that case I will born intelligent and talented. He also said that it is best this year to sleep with my head pointing east. I was worried what he would say when he got to Francois, but thankfully we should both sleep with our heads the same direction.