30 December 2016

Laya Journal- Waking Up in Gasa

October 13, 2016

I woke up early to feast on the magnificence of Gasa. Doctor’s quarter was perfectly located below the Dzong facing the overwhelming mountains. The moment I came out of the door I was face to face with the stunning mountains. The peaks of every mountain looked as if the naughty children of gods playfully handcrafted them.

The next thing I wanted to open my morning eyes to was the Dzong. I had always seen it in pictures, standing against a formidable snowcapped mountain. But to my dismay it wasn’t there. The utse of the Dzong was under renovation and without it, it didn’t quite look like Gasa Dzong.

After a quick breakfast in the same restaurant we had dinner in last night we climbed up to the parking lot near Dzongda’s quarter. The town was no bigger than a small village with single storied wooden huts. Even the bank was housed in one of those fragile structures.

In the parking lot we found out that the road to Ponjothang was too bad for Bolero Campers we intended to take. The only way to get there was in the two military trucks. The parking lot was filled with people who were equally lost and all eyes were on the two trucks. We even heard that our horses were ‘hijacked’ by some teams who went ahead of us, which was a nightmare because we had enough loads for at least 15 horses.

When the military trucks readied for the journey people rushed like herd of wild cattle, each trying to get ahead of the other. Our loads were lying on the road, we were left looking at each other’s faces. There was a big empty space inside the truck but the back entrance was already cramped with people who wouldn’t give us way. These were people from Thimphu known for being so nice in good times. If only they knew that we all must get to Laya anyway.

Utterly disgusted I climbed up on the truck with some force and asked my team to pass in the bags. One by one most of our bag were adjusted but it wasn’t without some resistance from the herd. 

The Third Truck

Third truck appeared in the parking lot. It was a non-military one that won’t make it till Ponjothang but we had to take the chance. It filled up easily and I was in the company of some of my teammates and some other good friends. I thought it was going to be like a nice ride on the back of truck. But the moment truck moved we were displaced from on side to another and everyone bounced in some random pattern. The floor of the truck was a pool of mud and we were careful not to get muddy but after a while we gave up. We were like popcorns in a frying pan; all those branded bags, pants and boots were covered in sticky mud.
Tashi Namgay Kidney being careful
The Rough Ride

Our truck refused to climb somewhere on a steep uphill climb and that was it. The two military trucks waved at us. We dismounted and started walking. Two friends stayed back to with the bags, hoping the military trucks would come back for us. We met a Bolero Camper returning from Ponjothang. How did it make it there? Who said it was impossible? Ok there was no time to repent because we had to request the man to pick up our bags. It was quite a feat to persuade him. When he came back with our bags we jumped in as well and on the way up we witness how his beloved pickup suffered all sorts of damage from the harsh road. Despite everything the man asked for just Nu.1500. Aue Karma T just couldn’t help adding Nu.1000 more for humanity’s sake. 

Dumped on the middle of Nowhere! 

Walking the gap with my team leader Aue Karma T and Aue Sonam (ABTO)

Ponjothang was not a settlement as I envisioned it was just point on the road beyond which the truck couldn’t go. There was a tent serving as makeshift canteen where we could eat for free by showing our official card. For now more than lunch we needed horses and there was none. They told us that it all messed up after 120 horses left for Lunana. Nonetheless they comforted us by assuring that the ones in Laya would be on their way back.

PREVIOUS (Long Road to Gasa) :: NEXT (Rest Like Zhabdrung in Koina)


  1. This is an interesting topic shared on how the people lived in the remote areas. I often wondered how they could pass their time each day with little development in the infrastructure.

    Here's wishing you and your family a very Happy and Healthy New Year 2017!

  2. Beautiful travelogue.well accounted. Thanks

  3. Yes! This topic very interesting. Now I want to see it with my eyes


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