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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Ya Bike

Meet Letho. He runs the fantastic Ambient Cafe in downtown Thimphu. If you want authentic espressos, steaming hot ginger and honey tea, or delightful apple cake, then head there. You can often find the wise Welshman, Lama Shenphen.

Like me, Letho enjoys getting out on his bicycle. Unlike me, he is fit and fast. He slows down for me. He also has a relation in every valley we have been to. This means a welcome stop for breakfast or a cup of warming tea.

Because Letho has to get back to open the cafe, we have been heading off for our Saturday rides as soon as the sun rises, at 6:30 am. There are few cars around, so the roads belong to us ... and the occasional cow or dog.

So far we have ridden up the Thimphu valley to the foot of Cheri Monastery and on another time, to Dechencholing Monastery. Heading across to the next valley, we ventured to Jemina for his uncle's Buddhist puja. Last week we tackled the early part of the ride to the mountain pass, Dochu La.

The rides have been very pleasant. The espresso back at Ambient Cafe is a fitting end.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


My Christmas Day started off like Christmas when I visited my sister's house via Skype. It was post lunch, but the profiteroles were being constructed. Dad was there, and was looking and sounding very good. It was fine and sunny in Christchurch, and it was nice to chat with everyone. A real family.
Ugyen was asleep when that was going on. It was only 6:30 in the morning here. Still dark. Not one person said Merry Christmas from my Bhutan family. They were too busy with their normal day. Unconcerned with my needs. There were a few messages from some Bhutanese and Indian friends. 
I went downtown to buy some special treats, and returned with some pork sausages. What to do with those? I made toad-in-the-hole. Not quite a turkey, but something a little different to chilli and cheese. I also whipped up a small pavlova with cream and topped with some blackberries from a can. Nobody else here seemed all that interested in trying to make Christmas, so I ate by myself. 

They were prepared to eat the chocolate coated almonds that I gave them on Christmas Eve.
I passed the evening in bed reading Zugzwang, by Ronan Bennett. Brother Matthew had very kindly sent that to me for Christmas. I am enjoying it very much. 
Oh, I nearly forgot, "Merry Christmas."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

School is Out

Yes, the school year is over. And I did not write much. Here are some pictures to fill in some of the details.
 With teachers leaving at the end of the year, it was time for some picnics. These are great events, with everyone chipping in to help prepare wonderful dishes. The Dzongkha lopens specialise in rice and emma datshi (the famous Bhutanese dish of chilli and cheese).

Sir Roy is a wonderful friend and excels in a wide range of Indian cuisine. This was an exceptional channa dish. Chickpeas, that is.

Sir Prajeesh and Aashish were chopping onions. My job was to distract them.

Jon and Roy managed a game of chess in a quiet spot.

Joe and Jenny were two of the leavers. The mittens, hat and diary that they kindly left me will be treasured. And they will be missed.

My first class was the 12 Commerce students. They finished the year with their external exams. These are the first and second place winners. I enjoyed teaching them all, and wish them all the best. The picture at the start of this post has some of the boys from the class.