Why Must You Stop By Chume Valley in Bhutan?

I wish I could tell you to close your eyes. While I narrated this to you.

Imagine a two-lane road in the mountains, and you are zipping by in a van with a thick cover of tall pine trees in both sides. You know you are going downhill, but can see neither the valley down below or the Pass you just left behind. The pines have blocked your view. 200 yards ahead is only what you can see, and soon the next turn and yet again the pines. Na na, you aren’t bored. Instead, you are inwardly fighting a strong desire to get out of the van and walk in that crisp air of the pines, sing-song with the chirping birds, and float with the clouds in that small sky the pines allow you to see.

But wait, the sky is getting bigger with every turn. You are in the foothills now. Well almost. For, the next turn opens into a clearing that shows a valley down there. Nestled between two mountains on either side. green. Surreal green. Not a soul in sight. Certainly not from that distance. You forget your impulse to walk. You want to run now. To the valley.

The valley is exactly what you have had seen in your dreams. Picket-fenced houses, Willows lining up both sides of the narrow road, a clear stream flowing by merrily, farmlands pregnant with produce, a crystal blue sky splattered with white clouds here and there, no cars, no sign of civilisation. This is how it looked like when God first created the world. And the people here in this valley have kept it that way. If this is not your ‘dream come true’ moment, what is?

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You look at Sonam, your guide, pleading. And he smiles the all-knowing smile. Yet again. He has been thoroughly amused by your ‘let’s walk, let’s run’ demands over the last 7 days, and knows your mind now. Says, calmly, like the god of his country, Lord Buddha, A little further, may be you can walk for a while. You are happy like school children! And when the driver announces that you can jump off the car and reach him a kilometre ahead on your feet, your6-year old barges in with her sweet voice and negotiates, 2 kilometers. Good natured that he is, Karma, smiles a Yes. You grin back a Thank You!

And get off the car to frolic around, let yourself loose, want desperately to stay in this Utopia Land and not go back to your own dwelling back in the city.

That’s Chume Valley in Bhutan.  Even that short, utterly short, 2 km walk can fill you with happiness that will last you a lifetime.

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