A walk in Thimphu | WWF

A walk in Thimphu

Posted on 20 August 2007    
A walk in Thimphu

This morning no alarm clock wakes me up. It is Saturday and finally after two rainy, muddy days the sun is shining again and only one small, white and fluffy cloud is innocently floating in the bright blue sky. I get up at once and rush out into the fresh air.

There is a steady stream of people slowly moving down to the weekend market. I follow them, and for a while I wander around between huge piles of vegetables, but suddenly a far away singing and hooting catches my attention. I follow the sounds, which lead me to the Thimphu stadium. Two groups of men are standing on the stadium ground, one on each end of the field, gathering around a target. Suddenly I realize that this must be an archery competition. I have already heard about this national sport of Bhutan and the Bhutanese seem to be quite passionate about it. Their performance is absolutely stunning. The small wooden target seems so far away, I can hardly see it. But suddenly the arrow shoots with tremendous speed over the incredible 140m distance (Olympic standard is only 50m!) and hits the target with a sudden crack. The other players are standing so dangerously close to the target that I wonder if never any of them get pierced accidentally. The archer’s team members howl and chant and perform a celebratory slow-motion dance, praising the shooter, who tucks a coloured scarf into his belt.

I leave the stadium, and with the voices in my back I cross the river heading for the other side of the valley, without really knowing, where I am going. Soon I leave behind the last big houses, the narrow path is leading now up the hill, passing little huts with vegetable gardens. Two young women are washing clothes outside and as soon as they spot me, they start to smile and giggle. A young boy in ragged pants and dirty shirt asks me: “Miss! Where going Miss?” “I don’t know”, I reply, “up the hill.” And up the hill I go, hopping from one cattle path to the other, ducking under the lower branches of the pines, until I find a dry place in the shadow, offering a lovely view over Thimphu. Soon I receive some company. It’s the small boy bringing along some even smaller children, three shy, timid stray dogs are following them. The children gather around me curiously, feel the material of my bag and after some time the smaller ones start on playing games, running around excitedly, giggling and shouting. Only the boy remains next to me, I ask him for his name (“name Dorji, Miss”) and give him my Bhutan guidebook. He looks at the pictures for a while with an earnest expression and then hands it back to me, saying very politely: “Thank you Miss. Miss, you how many brother and sister?” I tell him, that I am an only child and he looks at me in surprise: “Oh!” And from his expression I can tell, that this must be a very rare and sad case.

We go on chatting like this for a while, then finally I get up, the children wave me goodbye and head for their huts, while I go directly down the hill. I’ve been walking only for a couple of meters, as I suddenly hear barking and growling and I turn around just in time to see the three dogs shooting down the hill and surrounding me. I am so surprised, that I don’t know what to do first. “They are just barking”, I think, but in the next second I can feel some sharp teeth on my leg, and only a fast kick at the dogs head with my other foot prevents me from being really bitten. The dog doesn’t seem to be really impressed though and continues attacking me and I begin to feel that I am in real trouble. But all of a sudden a stone flies through the air and hits the dog with full might. And I can see the children, running towards us, chasing the howling dogs away by shouting and throwing stones and sticks until they are far away. Giggling at my horrified expression they stand around me and quite relieved, though still with a beating heart, I join in their laughter and they guide me down the hill (“This way, Miss!”). Suddenly I can feel a tiny hand pushing itself into mine and there is a maybe four year old boy looking up at me confidentially as if he wanted to say: Don’t worry, I will take care of you.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.

Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions
Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions