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Published: February 22nd 2016
The reduced day of travelling still took us around 5.5 hours in the car with Dendup telling us stories about the Yeti and evil demons along the way. We asked him if he believed in the Yeti and it was clear that he wasn't comfortable saying no but didn't quite want to say yes. This is still a country where superstition and believe in demons and evil spirits is very important part of life and I think it will be a while before that change.
The journey took us to the hotel in Wangdue that we should have stayed in when travelling in the other direction. Our room was right on the gushing river surrounded by trees and bird life and in a beautiful garden, though not much in flower at this time of year. We saw a whole range of birds that evening and the next morning which Dendup spent some time trying to identify.
I wasn't sure if the river noise was soothing or would just keep me awake all night but thankfully it was the former and we slept well despite needing electric blankets again. We were the only people there (again!) and the staff just
didn't seem to really care here so sadly the food was not so good but it would be a fantastic place to be when it was a bit warmer.
On the way back to Thimphu the next morning we went to the Botanical Gardens, again not really in flower except for beautifully scented Daphnes but it was a lovely place to wander.
Driving into Thimphu we could see a forest fire crossing one of the hillsides quite close to the city, with a couple of fire engines there but it was dangerously close to some houses. Dendup had previously told us that the country has recently acquired a helicopter to deal with forest fires but it did not seem to be around. We were driving up to the other side of the valley to Buddha Point where a huge golden Buddha is still being completed. After sitting in the sun in the car for some time I was baking but there was a stiff breeze outside and I soon cooled down. From there we could still see the fire and finally the helicopter appeared carrying a load of water just drawn from the river which it dropped along
the fire's edge. This continued as we drove into town and for lunch back at the hotel we had been to previously. From up on its fourth floor we could see the helicopter going over and watched it head up the valley the other way to deal with another fire. Dendup told us that these were among the first of the year but that there were often many during the dry season. Each area has a group of volunteers that try to deal with these and other disasters when they happen and we could see some of them in their orange uniforms still trying to deal with the big fire. By the time we left the restaurant they appeared to have stopped the main fire but it had come scarily close to some houses and I wonder if they would have survived without the helicopter.
After a quick coffee we drove back over to Paro and Dendup and Aita left us at the hotel to go back to their families for the night.
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