Saturday, January 8, 2011

For those of you old enough to recall the move "Stone" you will recall one of the main characters lying gut shot near the end.  He said something like "What a f#*king trip it's been then, eh?"  That's how I feel.  Not gut shot, but what a f#*king trip!

Bhutan is so much nicer than India and Nepal, due to less people and much better roads.  Some of the roads must have been designed by a motorcyclist.  The rest, well, just a series of connected potholes.

We have a had a few issues with ice.  I fell over today at walking pace on a downhill even after seeing several others fall.  It is difficult even getting enough grip to pick up the bikes.  A few days back, we crossed a beautiful little waterfall which crossed the road.  It was also part glacier and part incredibly polished rocks.  After the first few went down, everyone caught up..  Mike Ferris was directing proceedings when he lost his footing and ended up on his derriere.  It was all arms and legs and much hissing and spitting a gnashing of teeth.  To get the picture, think of puttng 8 giraffes on ice skates and just for good measure, about 8 elelphants also.  Then picture them perfoming Disney on ice.

A few days back on a particularly cold day (and THAT is cold here) I saw a bike cop standing on a road on a gorge pass about 50 metres from his bike, in the shade, which is about 10 degrees colder than the sunny parts.  I thought to myself : "Self, there is something wrong here.  Motorcyclist do not stand in the shade here."  I stopped and introduced myself and he pointed out a 4WD at the bottom of a little 400m drop.  It was upside down in about a metre of water.  Not only that, but the guy had been taken to hospital!!!!!!!!!! He somehow survived.  Apparently it had hit a truck and given the distinct lack of guard rails in that particular area, it had been turned into an impromptu aeroplane.  Unfortunately, an aeroplance with a glide slope like a besser block.  It was quite sobering.  Actually they have guard rails in SOME places.  The ones which particularly amuse me are the armco railings about one and a half metres from the ground.  It seems the logic is that motorcycles get to pass right under, car divers get decaptitated and trucks qualify for a few extra scratches before going over the side.

Bhutan is going down hill however.  The strictly contolled tourism is getting out of control.  Expansion is looking ugly.   Bhutan also suffers from the same lack of artisans as India and Nepal.  The build ostensibly 4 and 5 star hotels with the best marble, slate and tiles, but have no idea whatsoever how to get them to drain correctly.  The result is damp and structural issues.  They also have no idea of preventative maintenance and employ what appears to ne 14 year old kids as maintenance people.  It just doesn't work.  I was in  what appeared to be a pretty nice place a few nights ago with beautiful wood finish.  Unfortunately the windows had 3 mm gaps!  Did I mention how cold it was here???????  The place I am in tonight is however, a sit hole.  I have seen better appointed gaol cells.  In fact our prisoners would go on strike over conditions like this.

Another place we stayed was right on a raging river and I mean RAGING.  It was beautiful.  Unfortunately nothing worked.  It took hours to get hot water, then even longer to get heaters that worked.  The average age of the persons running the hotal was about 13.  I'm sure the parents thought that they might just go out for the night and leave the kids in charge.

I also got altitude sickness at only 12,400 feet..  What a whimp.  It was so embarrassing!  I took diamox and curled into the foetal position for a while in the sun.  A quick descent also helped.  An unfortunate side effect of diamox is that for 48 hours, beer tastes like the devil's vomit.   It is nearly enough to make a man give up the grog.

Having said all that, the adventure continues.  The ries are insane with incredibly spectacular scenery.

I've probably forgotten half of what I was going to say, so I aploogise, but I have been having communication problems.  Be kind to me.


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