It is hard to believe that we have been in Bhutan almost a week. For us this time round, so much is familiar and it has been a real joy to feel that we have at least a basic understanding of so much of the culture. We are truly able to assist in the orientation process with the incoming new teachers and have delighted in answering questions and guiding discussions. I have felt enormously relieved that the education system is a known quantity if not one with which I can say that I am one hundred percent au fait.
A large part of the joy for me personally however has been the views, the vistas and the ubiquitous presence of prayer flags, prayer wheels and the ever-present symbols of Buddhism that pervade all aspects of Bhutanese society. Returning to them has brought me a sense of inner clam.
I have been able to be more decisive and efficient in purchasing the huge number of household goods and appliances we require to set up our new home and the supplies which may be useful in our schools, as we have travelled this path before. I feel that I know what we do and do not need. As a result I feel more organized and prepared to face the challenges that lie ahead, even though our situation in Samtengang will be completely different from our previous posting in Rangjung. We are even able to guide others and recommend outlets and products. I will still need to work on my ability to be flexible and hold schedules and plans lightly, however but the bottom line is, even knowing this from the beginning is an advantage.
Long days listening to lectures and advice and being part of the essential process of meeting and greeting significant stakeholders in our soon to commence working lives, do however take their toll, most especially when we consider our recent lifestyle. Like several others in this group I have come down with a lurgie: nothing serious but I am afflicted with a sore throat, barking cough and ever more croaky voice. I guess that this is not to be wondered at, when I consider that we have traded a completely carefree existence travelling in hot humid environments, for icy winds and chilly mornings and evenings. At least we are blessed with warm, sunny afternoons and clear, clean air.
By far the greatest joy has been seeing several of my former students who just happen to be in the capital spending time with their families and relatives during their winter break. All too soon we will all be heading for our separate schools and there will be few opportunities to meet and chat in person.
I am delighted that within moments of posting our arrival in Bhutan welcome messages, requests for contact details and invitations to meet up came pouring in. Oh the joys of social media. In fact while we were still in Bangkok, we were actually invited to breakfast on arrival as soon as one former student heard our departure time. This is Bhutanese hospitality at its best and we still feel so privileged to be included.
For now we are not quite half way through orientation and this hotel will hold the distinction of being the place in which we have spent the longest time since June 2013! A new beginning has certainly been made and new challenges are sure to come, but to be perfectly honest I simply cannot wait to be settling into our new community and starting the real reason for our presence here: the business of teaching.