I have heard badly about Gelephu Tshachu, and the images of it on media made it worse, but I didn't want to go back without seeing this infamous place. So a week ago I took my family there. It was about to be 6PM when we reached there and men were crowding at the gate for their turn. It was already dark and the place was depressing without proper lighting. I was yet to see the tshachu pools when men started gatecrashing and invading the women's turn. There was nobody at the gate to see to it.
When all men have climbed over the gate and wall then came a young man who open the gate for me. He blew the whistle as if there was anybody left at all. At the pool the scene was very ugly, men were rushing in and women were trying to escape. I thought that was it. I had seen enough already.
I couldn't agree to myself. Am I going to leave Gelephu without experiencing Tshachu? Am a going to deprive myself of a lifetime experience? Am I going to live with that bad impression of that place forever?
So last weekend I joined four of my training mates who are regular Tshachu visitors. We made it there before 8PM. There were hardly any people at the gate, which was already open. The ponds were packed and surprisingly there were a few men among the ladies. The whistle blew but the ladies showed no sign of coming out. So we readied ourselves and waited at the mouth of the pond that's reputed to be the hottest. There were over 13 people staring at us from the pond and I could hardly see any space to breath. Five of us were waiting in shorts. Then a man brushed across us and went in. I was annoyed at first but after watching him adjust himself among the ladies with good humor I began to like him.
My friends who were already senior visitors told me that we should subtly slip in like the man. One by one we joked our way into the pond and to my amazement the population in the pond increased to 18 and we were still comfortable. Everybody was so welcoming that I could think of no other people in the world who can be as accommodating and forgiving. I spend the next one hour enjoy the hot smelly water and funny company. There were different types of people coming in and going out, and the friendly atmosphere in the pond remained throughout. Every time a new member came in everybody moved a little bit to make room, and every time someone walks out everybody stood up to give way.
Seriously I have no faith in the healing power of tshachu, I feel any hot water can have so much healing power if we can soak for so long. But what make Tshachu special to me is the social aspect of it. People from different places gather here and indulge in a very rustic and yet so Bhutanese form of social activity. Where in the world would stranger share a tiny bathtub in minimum cloth for hours? This should be one place to visit before you die.
Health Tips: Tshachu is mostly visited by people with different kinds of diseases, and therefore some caution has to be taken.