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Asia, Bhutan

These Roads

April 9, 2015

Winding through these mountains, we stop for a Yak and her calf and on the next corner, avoid a boulder taking up much of the road, having fallen in a recent landslip. The road zig zags down the mountain face, taking you down to the valley and right back up the other side, often to 2100m or higher.

Just outside the city, small wooden bridges covered in colourful prayer flags allows access to the other side of the river. The fast flowing, turquoise blue glacial waters changes with the land. At times shallow and narrow sections with huge boulders create white wash and soon after the floor drops and calm deep waters flow gently.

Further from Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, a combination of landslips and waterfalls runnings across the quickly made dirt roads makes for a rough drive and the newly built hydro power plant has trucks ripping up what little road remains.

We share the main highway, sections of bitumen, but mostly dirt roads, with school buses, tractors and carts. At one point we met an Indian truck on the bend of a narrow road. Built into a mountain face, the shear cliff drop to our left and the bankment to our right left nowhere to go. Our guide literally got out and tapped the side of the van to direct the driver along the cliff edge past the truck with less than two inches between the vehicles. The most nerve racking experience of our trip as we literally placed our lives in the hands of our driver and our guide.

A few days later we head toward a remote school in Hebesa. The three and a half hour journey, which takes us just ninety kilometres, was further delayed as we waited for an explosion to take place beside the roadside, part of the hydro plant construction. Our hearts nearly came through our chest as the exploding ground beside us shook the car and a huge dust cloud filled the area.

The roads were tough but the experiences worth it with spectacular scenery along the way.