Sunday March 27th
It is a cold and rainy evening in Rangjung.
I am thankfully just coming off a nearly two week ‘gout like experience’ in my right big toe ball joint. Very, very painful but fortunately largely history now. I am also feeling a little under the weather at the moment, not sure why, perhaps a beer will help!
We had a wonderful outing today with the Thapa family, Rena from my homeclass IV and her brother, Rohit, from class VI along with mum and dad and us. Dad is the ‘Mess in Charge’ at Vicky’s school. It was a full little Hyundai i 20 I can tell you. We motored through to Tashigang alright en route to Kanglung where Mr Thapa wanted to go to a particular canteen with attached shop. They had tried to go there several times in the past only to find it closed or undergoing stocktake or empty or in some other way incapacitated.
The roads were the typical windy hairpins with short and very bumpy bits in between them. Mr Thapa wanted to get to the mess before they broke for lunch, which, really could start at any time and last as long as the proverbial piece of string! Vicky was getting queasier and queasier as the little car lurched round each successive bend until, after one look at her, I called for a halt and shooed young Rohit out of the way so Vicky could head for the verge and lose what remained of her Sunday breakfast. As usual she came good after that purging of her system and she ‘enjoyed’ the rest of the ride untroubled by motion sicknes. Mr Thapa also slowed down to a mere crawl for the sake of Vicky's stomach which helped a lot.
As it turns out, the shop is attached to an Indian Army base just outside Kanglung and is a kind of commissiary or PX as the Americans would say. Regular folk may shop there (sometimes) and the prices are way below MRP, 10 or 20% for some things. We got some Pears soap, Tide washing powder, shaving cream, lavender scented talc powder and some other stuff for just over 700 ngultrums. The Thapas were a little disappointed as they couldn’t get the insulated lunchboxes that the kids wanted, but they did very well, spending around 1500 I think.
We stopped on the way back to Kanglung and ate the delicious picnic lunch that Mrs Thapa had whipped up that morning. The rain spoilt it a little as did the fact that I was freezing! I should have listened to Vicky after all and taken a jacket with me...
Anyhow, we opted to give Sherubtse college a miss in Kanlung. We had seen Lisa and Scott the previous day as they were forced to take a diversion through Rangjung on their way to see Julian and Shauna at Bartsham. We were just heading back into Rangjung after a head clearing walk up to the Chorten we had stopped at on the way up to Bidung all those weeks ago. We chatted with them for a short while and then they were on their way. They were forced to take the diversion as there was a forest fire burning out of control on the Bartsham Road which was duly closed to traffic.
We did stop at the famous Shangrila restaurant in Kanlung- made famous by Jamie Zeppa’s novel, “Beyond the Sky and the Earth” which we have both recently finished reading. We all bought some delicious looking Indian food which we will have for dinner along with some beany dahl and rice.
The rain continued in fits and starts until Tashigang where it was pretty dry really. We two did a mad cry of “carrots!!!” as we passed the first veggie shop there. That had the family at first alarmed and then surprised. They have perhaps never seen anyone so pleased to see carots. We swiftly made our way back there and bought a kilo and a half of the orange rareties. We got some other supplies too but had to be a bit careful as the money we brought with us from Thimphu is all but spent and we haven’t received any salaries as yet...
The Trashigang powers that be told me they had been “very busy...” when I last called them to enquire why.