Bhutan’s Wonders: Food… Sport… Animals and… Vitamin M and Penises?

October 26, 2008

Food –  Bhutan is not a place to start a low-carb diet.  Raw fruits and vegetables are limited, but rice, potatoes are abundant.  As a Buddhist society, meat and fish can be limited.  Eggs and peanut butter became our primary source of protein.  One item that was pretty good was peppers and cheese.  Bhutanese dry red (sometimes green) chili peppers on their rooftops and just about every meal include chilis of some sort.  As a group of 14, we faced buffets nearly every meal, which quickly became monotonous but with it came humor although we learned to carry a stash of ramen just in case. Brad and I stayed one extra day as we had to fly out to Kolkata, India while the rest of the group went on to Bangkok so we splurged and stayed as the Uma Resort that had gourmet food and incredible fish.  We pigged at both dinner and breakfast.


Archery – The Bhutanese love their archery.  It’s a casual pastime and official national sport.  On our second to last day with the group, we happened by an official tournament where one of the new kings brothers was in the match.  They use expensive compound bows and stand a couple hundred yards apart where there are members of each team on each end.  They have a number of rituals, sayings and dance they perform as part of the game when a fellow teammate hits or comes close to the target.  While at the Uma, Brad and I took archery lessons although they wouldn’t give us compound bows…we used traditional bows and Brad hit that damn target on his first try.  (I did not although I got close) The guide was amazed.  We now both have huge bruises on our left arm where the bow string struck.


Vitamin M – We were astounded that marijuana grows in the wild in Bhutan…and seems to stay on the vines. You can see from some of the photos that we decided to pick some. One member of our group – who will remain nameless — became infatuated with the herb and we carried it through some miles to if it would dry and actually light… it did, but not with the force some of you may know (you’ll remain nameless also).


Dogs, Cows, Yaks…Oh My – Dogs and cows are everywhere.  Yaks are found at higher elevation levels but on the roads, we were constantly navigating around or waiting for herds of cows to pass so we could get through.  And, dogs…there is no neutering program in Bhutan so these dogs run wild, in many cases, in packs.  They also act like roosters – barking well before dawn and into the daylight.


Penis Envy – Well not really, but the Bhutanese use images of penises to reflect their respect and offering to the “Divine Madman,” Bhutan’s unconventional lama Drupka Kinley. Legend has it that Kinley would hit errant demons over the head with his penis to subdue them and turn them into protective deities. So we’d see life size and extra large penis models often placed outside a home – or even painted on the side. Wooden penises were sold throughout the country and we picked up a few so maybe you’ll be the lucky recipient when we return.


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