Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Snow.

I've been reminded recently that it's been a while since I updated here, but circumstances (and admittedly a touch of lethargy) have contributed to this... 

In January/February, I spent more than a month in bed, trying to recover from a nasty bout of typhoid. Very unpleasant. Wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.
I first contracted typhoid in 2010, in Bangalore, India. Followed immediately by a dose of dengue fever. I lost 12kgs (27lbs) in one month. And I've never been larger than “slim”. My doctor in Australia warned me that I was prone to re-infection, but I scoffed at him. 
Unfortunately for me, he was correct.

I believe I contracted this recent bout in Kolkata, India, on my return to Bhutan from my daughter's wedding in Australia. So, many weeks lying flat on my back, in excruciating pain, hallucinating and blacking out for days at a time.

And then, in April, I travelled back to Australia for a 3 week trip again, to attend my same daughter's “White Wedding”. 

Her previous December wedding was because she's married a wonderful guy, (Indian parents, but born in Oz.) The family are good, sincere Muslims, so we had a Muslim “Nikah”ceremony then. 

But my lovely daughter also yearned for the traditional western white wedding. Of course, she had it.
4 months later.

But during my recovery in February, a strange event occurred in Bhutan.

You'd expect regular snow in this kingdom, due to its altitude and  proximity to the world's highest mountain range. And according to locals, up until about 8 years ago, heavy winter snow was common and expected. Indeed, the first day of snowfall is always declared a national public holiday.
But in my 3 winters here, the heaviest snowfall I'd seen in Thimphu was merely a light dusting that melted within hours...

 The predominant theory as to this recent lack of snow is because of the ubiquitous and very real global climate change. Bhutan is placed between, and borders upon, the planet's 2 most populous (and polluted) nations, India and China. Between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and at the mercy of both.

So in mid-February, when I travelled west to the more temperate Punakha for a festival, I was surprised to find that we couldn't return to Thimphu, as the road was blocked by heavy snowfalls in the capital. Disappointed at missing this long-awaited spectacle myself, I rang a friend and asked him to take some pics, which he kindly provided.

Thimphu at its glorious best...worth waiting for me to appreciate.


  1. Uncle Shax, Congratulations on your daughter's wedding. It is so very interesting to read your blog - i just makes memories spring back to mu mind, and 'grows' the wander lust in me... will keep visiting. Warm regards, Biju/Bangalore

  2. So glad you are blogging because I have been wondering if any “western” types lived in Bhutan. I’ve been trying to decide on where to go next in Asia and from what you’ve written, it’s helped me decide I do NOT want to live in Bhutan--maybe visit, but I am always COLD as it is. I would love the views but I’m afraid I’d never get warm. Love the pics, thanks for sharing.

  3. Crystal...not all of Bhutan is cold! If you travel to the southern areas, closer to India, it's positively tropical. There, they grow bananas, pineapples, papaya etc, and never see snow. Even where I am, in Thimphu, for at least 6 months of the year I wear jeans and T-shirt. Just choose the warmer months to visit (April to September).