The Wangdue Phodrang Festival

Previous page - Dochula Pass and Chimi Lhakhang


River seen on the way to Trongsa Scene on the way to the dzong

Festival at Wangdue Phodrang

Next up was to spend some time at a festival in the town of Wangdue. As we arrived in the car we could see the little town was extremely busy. It was the middle of a three-day festival. It took a while but Dorje finally found a space in a car park. It was so hot. Jeremy suggested to Kinga that he might change out of his Gho and into something cooler. Kinga said not to because it would be quite cool when we were in the dzong. Wrong decision! We walked down a sloping path to the dzong.


Wangdue Phodrang Walking down to the Wangdue Phodrang

There was a slight breeze but it was mighty hot. Hats were not allowed to be worn inside the place. Once inside this large dzong we found a central area where all the action was plus thousands of people all around the edges who were watching the action. There really wasn’t much shade we could stand in. We are all very fair skinned and burn easily so we tried to stand as close to the shade as we could. At one stage Jeremy looked very white faced. I thought he was about to faint but he said he was fine. To cool himself off he poured water from his drink bottle down inside his front.


Festivals are times to wear colourful clothing Everyone was dressed in colourful clothes

There was lots of push and shove in there with adults and children all vying for better vantage points. We took heaps of photos of the colourful characters at the festival but, a short while later, we were quite glad to wander back up the hill to the car. If the weather had been cooler we may have stayed longer.  After the earlier hot walk to the Fertility Temple and then the time spent here we were all feeling quite pooped. As he climbed back into the car Jeremy was busy stripping off his Gho. We settled into our seats for the next part of the journey.


Traffic jam at Wangdue

The moment we left the car park and got back onto the road we were in a traffic jam. The road was exceedingly narrow and was not capable of carrying the amount of traffic that was using it that day.

Not only were there masses of cars but there were trucks jamming up the works too. Cars were parked on both sides of the narrow road and traffic simply couldn’t pass by in both directions. Well we sat in the car for an hour waiting to be able to move. We all got progressively hotter and hotter sitting in the car in the sun. Shoes and socks had to come off to cool us down. Locals had their wares on the ground at the side of the road trying to sell them. It was painfully obvious they had to move their gear back a foot or two to enable traffic to move more easily but alas they didn’t feel a need to move anything. This seriously hampered traffic movement. Tiny tots were standing at the edge of the road playing within inches of trucks that were carefully manoeuvring themselves back and forth to gain an extra bit of lee-way. Parents were oblivious of the dangers. We were horrified!


Onwards through Pele La

Pele La Pass Up high at Pele La Pass

The road continued to be narrow and full of hairpin bends. We saw lots of dirt, rocks and cows. The actual road was really worse than some of those seen on the TV program where American truck drivers travel on dangerous roads in northern India. We soon had to get used to this as it is common all over Bhutan. We drove through the Pele La Pass which is some 3420 metres above sea level. This pass in the Black Mountains is considered the dividing point between western and central Bhutan. There were thousands of prayer flags there. Just as well as we had to hide behind them to do wees in the bushes. As we drove down from this height we heard our plastic water bottles shrink and crackle. We looked at them and they had changed shape. Snaking our way through valleys, we arrived at our accommodation just before dark.


The power-less Chendebji Resort Chendebji Resort

Chendebji Resort in the dark

When we arrived at the hotel we were told they had been without power in that valley for two weeks. Something at the power station had broken down and the part had to be ordered in from India.

We were invited in to the restaurant for a cuppa and some biscuits. A fire was burning in the centre of the restaurant so that took the chill off the air and candles were ready to be lit on the tables. After our refreshments we were shown to our rooms.

We had two twin rooms right next to each other. A solitary candle was lit on a little saucer on a table in the centre of each room. We were terrified the candles would fall over and set the place alight – after all the construction was 100% timber. Our rooms were no more than small very basic timber cabins.

Little wooden cabin at hotel Chendebji Tiny cabins with short beds

Even with the candles burning it was quite dark in our cabins. We managed to drag our bags over near the candles so we had enough light (just) to undo the padlocks on each bag. We each rummaged around in our baggage until we located our little head lamps. We turned them on, attached them to our heads and Voila! We could see again. It was Ian’s idea to purchase those head lamps several months earlier and we were so pleased he had thought of the idea.

We found we had a very basic en-suite. We had a functioning toilet, a crumbling old bath and a little sink. Because of the power situation there was no hot water. From the bedroom to the toilet was a step up. The doorway was very low. Both Jeremy and I managed to whack our heads going into our bathrooms.  So, there were no showers that night. We particularly wanted a good shower as we had been so hot during the day and we were all covered in dust. So be it! We had to wipe ourselves down with Wet Ones that night.


Dinner at Hotel Chendebji

After we had settled in we ventured back down the steps of our cabin, complete with our head lamps in good working order. We only had to cross the little stone courtyard and we were in the restaurant. No one tripped over. Despite having no electricity the restaurant served us a wonderful meal. It was fun eating by the light of candles and head lamps. I think we were the only ones staying at the hotel.

The hotel is in a very quiet location in this beautiful and steep valley. It has a river on one side and a quiet and winding road on the other. The beds were wider than the average single bed but a little shorter. We should have an excellent night’s sleep, we thought! 


Next page - We travel to Trongsa




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