14 May 2009

From The Sky

In the Tang Valley of Bhutan, way up near the Tibetan border, there's a magical little village called Namkha that we were lucky enough to visit one sunny autumn day. Our hike began early that morning in Bumthang Valley's misty village of Nang Lhakhang. Walking through fields of colorful prayer flags, moss-draped cedar trees, and frozen waterfalls, we sang loudly to announce our presence to the curious Himalayan black bears rumored to be sharing the trail that day. By the time we crossed over Pepe-la pass, we had just about run through our repertoire of songs we know by heart. (songs popularized by Blossom Dearie, Dorothy Shay, and Brigitte Fontaine led the pack!) When we got to Namkha, the caretaker of the village temple interupted work in her field of mustard to allow us access. Inside the temple, we were surprised to find a very non-Bhutanese-looking Buddha--with Thai characteristics. It was delightful to learn that the word "Namkha" means "it fell from the sky." Cool! How else would an ornate Thai Buddha find its way to central Bhutan 50 years ago?