Saturday, November 29, 2014

People of Bhutan

Bhutan is a wonderful place to take photos of people. The Bhutanese are very friendly, and our guides said that if people don't speak English, just pantomime taking a photo, and they will almost always smile and nod to say "Of course!" Here are some of my favorite snaps of the Bhutanese people.

At a ceremonial gathering, this grandpa urged his granddaughter to look at the camera:

The ceremony involved giving out hot tea and cooked rice to anybody who wanted. But that's all you got--rice. No bowl, no utensils. That was just fine with folks:

The national costume for men is a kimono-like, knee-length jacket called a "Gho." Bhutanese men wear the Gho whenever they are at work; otherwise, they are free to wear Western clothes if they wish:

But they can wear whatever footgear they prefer:

When it's hot, men often slip off the sleeves of their Gho and let it flop over their tightly wrapped sash around their hips:

Boys also wear the Gho:

Or not:

The national sport in Bhutan is archery, which is enjoyed using both the traditional bows and the modern, composite bows:

In general, the Bhutanese keep their traditions alive but also embrace the new:

Some things are done the same way they've been done for hundreds of years. Like harvesting the rice crop with hand tools:

She's harvesting rice while wielding a mean-looking sickle and toting her water in a Coke bottle:

The Buddhist monks of Bhutan wear red robes. The monk at the left had a detail at his waist that caught my eye:

Here it is!:

The traditional dress for Bhutanese women is a short jacket and long, slim skirt. In the week and a half that I was there, I saw maybe one chubby Bhutanese woman; otherwise, every woman looks fantastic in the slim skirt.

These young ladies were bellhops in one hotel we visited:

About 2/3 to 3/4 of the population in Bhutan practices Buddhism; the rest are Hindu, pretty much. This is the face of a huge Buddha statue that looks out over the capitol city of Thimpu. We were told there is a $10 million diamond in the center of Buddha's forehead:

Monasteries, temples, stupas (dome-shaped shrines), and prayer wheels are everywhere. Some prayer wheels are driven by water; this one rotated on kid power:

Everywhere we went, older ladies and their wonderful wrinkles caught my eye:

Old people often carried their prayer beads with them in public. Younger people, our guide told us, don't have the time to use the beads during the day, so they tend to use them when they are at home, before or after work:

The Bhutanese are a smiley, friendly people who seem genuinely happy to have visitors in their beautiful country: 

I loved meeting them and traipsing around their lovely countryside.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bhutan Blues

The Hubby and I recently spent 10 days hiking in Bhutan, a landlocked nation north of India and south of Tibet. Bhutan is a little smaller than Switzerland, but where the latter has a population of about 8 million people, Bhutan's is only about 700,000.

Bhutan boasts magnificent landscapes and breathtaking temples. It people are small, slender, and friendly. Most understand and speak English--at least a bit--although they're shy about it, which I found charming.

Whenever I travel, I collect photos of things that are blue. Here are a few of my favorite Bhutanese blues:

Wild Blue Gentian flowers:

Prayer flags are everywhere--strung in trees, across canyons and rivers, draped along streets, etc.:

The president of India was coming for an official visit. To welcome him, the Bhutanese hung banners, and decorated bridges and arches with beautiful fabrics:

Aa conflux of two major rivers is considered attractive to demons. To me, it just looked attractive:

Typical shop windows, on a main street in Thimpu, the capitol:

Prayer banners strung up in a tent shape:

The mouldering wall of a building that housed a giant, water-driven prayer wheel:

Small prayer wheels set in alcoves of monasteries and other holy places invite passersby to spin them as they walk by--always in a clockwise fashion, according to custom:

Empty butter lamps in a special glass case at a monastery. Some of Bhutan's monasteries date back to the 1600s, and most are made of wood, making them vulnerable to fire. To reduce the fire threat, many monasteries don't allow butter lamps to be lit inside at their altars, but instead provide glass-enclosed cases in the monastery's courtyards, where the faithful can light their lamps:

Tarps and sand, spread out in a monastery courtyard, will be turned into a sand painting soon:

The front entrance of the National Library, at Thimpu:

A painted display cabinet in the National Library:

Detail of an embroidered textile at the National Museum of Textiles, Thimpu:

Children on their way home from school:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Got Towels?

Hello! I've been out of the country for two weeks, in places so remote that running water and electricity aren't always a sure thing. (More on that later, I promise.)
But now I'm back, and today while out walking one of my pugs, I found four big, fat towels stuffed into a trash can. This drives me crazy! Why do people throw out perfectly good stuff? Things don't have to be spotless to still be of use. Towels are a perfect example. 

Every animal shelter in the nation needs terrycloth towels, for bathing and drying the animals, and for snuggling around the little ones. (Although that bottom towel in the pile is big enough to dry off a Great Dane, I swear.)
I took the towels home to launder them. Then off to my local animal shelter they'll go. 

It's odd, but just today I received a message from the shelter, asking for things it needs that people can donate and/or buy. 

Look at the list, below. Do you have anything you could donate to your local shelter?

Towels and blankets and sheets
Stainless steel bowls of all sizes
Ceramic crocksPlastic or stainless steel litter pans (all sizes)
Dog and cat treats (hard and soft)
Dog and cat toys(including washable stuffed toys)
Guinea pig, hamster, gerbil food & cages
Hay (timothy or oat)
Cat scratching posts
Baby wipes
Potty-training pads
Heating pads
Dog and cat carriers
Baby bottles (newborn) and kitten bottles
Fabric softener sheets
Dog and cat groom supplies
Shampoo, conditioner, brushes, clippers
Hand soap & sanitizer

(Pacifiers! Who knew?)

Apparently somebody did.


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