Sunday, August 7, 2011

Shout out to my YACs!

Dear East Point YAC,

    Although you may not be directly related to Bhutan, I need to make a brief shout out to all of you!  This past summer had the potential to be really rough.  My family had just moved to Maine and I’d be home for 2+ months in a state where I know almost no one.

    Then along came YAC... I want you to know that you truly made my summer and I am so thankful for you.  I can’t fully describe how much I appreciate the fellowship you provided, fantastic discussions, and lots of laughs.

    On top of all that, I finally got to read the wonderful notes that many of you wrote in my book (plus Janaye’s picture... which was epic!).  Thank you so much for all the encouraging words.  When I feel homesick or stressed, I like to open up that book and feel all the great vibes coming from you.  And, thank you to those who are praying for me and my group as we continue this adventure.  It means a lot to me.

    So, to finish up, I hope you are having a great end to your summer.  Sometime in the fall I am hoping to wake up early enough to skype into a YAC but I’m not sure about the logistics!  Also, keep an eye on my facebook photos... I am determined to get a picture with a real live yak while I am here.  So far I have bought a yak hair bag and eaten at “Yak Herders Camp,” but haven’t come across a yak itself!

    I love you all! God Bless,


Is it faster to dig a hole through the Earth or fly to Bhutan?

I have finally arrived!  The trip here was by far the longest one I have ever experienced.  To put it simply, we left Boston at 6am on Saturday the 30th of August (which is 4pm Bhutan time) and we arrived at about 11:30am Monday, August 1st (which is 1:30am east coast time).  That means that we traveled for for over 43 hours!

But, when we arrived, it hardly even mattered!  Bhutan is probably the most beautiful place I've ever been, largely because of the mountains.  In fact, if you're wondering about the name of my blog, it is essentially what the pilot says when you approach the airport in Paro, Bhutan.  The airstrip is deep in the middle of huge Himalayan mountains and it can be a bit alarming... of course, it doesn't help when there are literally people on the runway so at the last minute we had to pull up and circle around again to land!

Even though we had been traveling for so long, we couldn't go to sleep when we arrived under pains of never adjusting to the time change (we are 10 hours ahead of the east coast).  When we first reached the hotel, we were told about its illustrious history housing important dignitaries and officials.  It is a beautiful building on a hill that overlooks rice patties and "downtown paro" (it's about 2 streets by 4-5 blocks).  Sitting opposite us is the Paro Dzong and the National Museum (originally a watch tower for the Dzong).

A dzong is a central part of Bhutanese society.  They were originally fortresses that the Bhutanese used to protect their lands.  Now they are used to house the government offices of each area.  They also often house the monastic body, symbolizing the important duality of secular and spiritual leadership in Bhutan.

The rest of our first day was spent walking into Paro.  As we walked into town we heard loud cheering and happened upon an archery match.  Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and is a little different from our "western archery."  Instead of a round target held up at eye level, they shoot at a rectangular piece of wood (with a round target in the middle) that is at an angle sitting on the ground.  If an archer hits the target, then the opposing archers have to do a dance in honor of his hit.  It is a great thing to watch and when they are shooting from 300 metres away, it's also very impressive!

Now, I have to go to bed and you are probably starting to get bored from this insanely long post.  I'm trying to catch up with this blog so keep an eye out!

PS The internet here is incredibly slow which makes uploading photos very difficult (except in the middle of the night!) I will update entries with photos when I am able to get better internet like in town or if I'm awake at a weird time. Sorry!