Friday, August 5, 2011

Day trip with class IXC

We climbed up to Bidung in the heat but luckily not the sunshine on Wednesday as it was a public holiday for the  anniversary of the Lord Buddha’s first sermon. We were with my class IXC home group who had taken great interest and great delight in the planning and preparation stages of their big day out. A couple of ring-ins who were essential for the soccer game and were day scholars accompanied us.  If we had agreed to take extra boarders  I think we would have had more that half the school cohort with us! The meeting place was the front gate of the school and despite having permission to wear hiking clothes many of them still opted for traditional dress, which I have to admit surprised me.

Class photo before the adventure began

It took more than 2 and a half hours to reach the top and I was hurting at the end of it as I slipped and hurt my knee just metres from the school gate, just after we set off. It wasn't a serious fall but I slammed down on the knee cap and grazed around it, so it was tender and climbing wasn't that much fun.  I didn't actually even want to look at it while the kids were aware, so it wasn't until we got to the top and we were inside at J-D's, that I could see the damage.

Perfect hiking attire

am sure that the students could have bolted up that mountain in no time without us and many of them had done exactly that many times before when they were scholars of the Bidung Lower Secondary School. Even 3 of the resident school dogs took the opportunity to accompany us and were rewarded with plenty of food and affection.

Well loved campus stray "Sexy" as captured by Photography Club member and IXC class member Tshering Gyeltshen

We set off after a bit of a late start and delayed meeting at the front gates of my school. The girls all stayed with me initially but then took off up the mountain at more speed than I could muster. They seemed to have discussed the idea of walking with me and chatting so groups did that, at various stages and they all felt very virtuous as they were practising their English to. God knows some of them need too but some who rarely speak in class had a really good go as the day progressed so that is really the value of this kind of excursions.

Those taking the lead in the early stages
By the end the boys all waited and climbed with Ian and I and declared themselves my body guards!! Just minutes into the climb down again they were planning our next outing, they were so thrilled with their day out!!

The body guards 

We met up with J-D and had lunch with him and the boys all played soccer against his school while the girls caught up with old friends and "cousin sisters", after the picnic lunch they had carried up. 


The cooks provided the boarders with ample food, which was fabulous and I bought 50 eggs and the cooks boiled them and added it to what the rest of the boarders were getting for lunch on that day as well. For the most part they were really happy to have the eggs, as it is a real treat for boarders!! At 7ng each when the school gets 21ng at day to feed each of them all 3 meals it is no wonder. They get potato curry and rice or chillies and rice, 90% of the time for both lunch and dinner and they usually only have rice and pickles or rice and chickpeas for breakfast. I am surprised how healthy most of them are given their limited diets. Those who have been boarders before in other schools all say the food is good at our school so I hate to think what it must be like elsewhere.

RHSS, the monastery and the town viewed from above

Even the more onerous clean up tasks were willingly taken on board.

 They lost the football but they had won 3 games out of 4 last weekend and that put them in 2 place among the class IX groups (sections) and gave them a prize of 400 ngultrum, which they were keen to have to spend on refreshments on their special day. A couple of the boys were miles ahead of me with the “body guards” and as we arrived they all handed the other students and us, soft drinks that were bought with that money but the last shot on the photos I downloaded on our return caused me a few concerns.

Tshering Gyeltshen giving it his best shot

They were great in my books. They were good sports about being beaten by younger kids and friends as so many of them went to that school, and after climbing up there and playing for over an hour they were still prepared to race back down the mountain to be sure to be in time for evening study which was the principal's condition on taking them!! They stopped a vehicle and insisted that Ian and I get in and another 8 kids, who were also hurting, piled into the flat tray back on the way down.

 Hopefuls attempting to climb aboard 

The driver was the headmaster of a community school that we have spoken to before and his wife runs a shop in the main street here so that was very nice of him and we are now thinking we might try to go to his school and spend a day with his kids as it is only a 4 km walk from Rangjung and that would return the favour. As an added bonus we got to see our place and the monastery from the opposite perspective to usual in the vehicle coming down on one of the worst roads we have experienced thus far in Bhutan.

No wonder we love the views

We would have made the climb but I am sure that we would have held them up too.

We waited at the gates and saw them over the line before the evening study deadline so all is well that ends well. There were some great sights to been seen within the grounds from that vantage point too. It was a great day and they were not only a lot of fun but also so co-operative and helpful with each other and us that we would be happy to go again.

Nature lovers study position on a lazy public holiday 

                                             Home safe and sound

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