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What can you see with your head in the clouds?

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Our Bhutanese hosts wanted to take us to a mountain pass above the valley of Paro today.

They said Chelela pass, at almost 4000 meters, was the highest pass in the whole country.

This idea seemed pretty appealing to us, since Bhutan is smack in the middle of the Himalayas and home to some of the world’s tallest mountains.

More appealing, at least, than spending another day in the capital Thimphu.

Driving into the clouds

The ride from Thimphu to Paro takes about an hour – the road is newly built, has two lanes and is easy to travel.

But as we turned off the main road in Paro, things changed dramatically.

For the next 38 kilometers, we snaked our way up to the mountain pass on a pot-holed one-lane road.

There were hair-pin turns every few meters so that we were constantly thrown from one side of the back-seat to the other.

And since there were three of us in that back seat, the ride wasn’t really all that pleasant.

The scenery outside was actually very pretty: first, we went through apple orchards and then through endless pine and rhododendron forests.

There were hardly any other cars on the road. We only overtook a few trucks weighed down with stones for the road construction along the way.

But as this mountain road was so narrow and winding, it took us almost two hours to reach the pass.

And the higher we drove, the closer we got to the low-hanging rain clouds.

The anti-climax

By the time we reached Chelela pass, we were almost totally enveloped in clouds.

All the snow-covered Himalayan peaks that you can probably see from up there in good weather were hidden from our view.

We looked down both sides of the mountain pass, but all we could see were the prayer flags and the valleys below us.

What a shame after that long and uncomfortable ride. We were pretty sad.

And the idea that we’d have to go down the same way didn’t exactly help to raise our spirits…

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Written by Thorsten

September 27, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Posted in travel

Tagged with , , , , ,

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