Thimphu - Day 3
Jan 1, 2009
• Mini Zoo
• Folk Heritage Museum
• Arts and Crafts School
• Traditional Medicine Institute
• National Library
• Semtokha Dzong
• Textile Museum
The Mini Zoo is just that. There are a few different species of deer but the animal we have come to see is the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. This animal is half cow – half goat created from the bones of these two animals by a monk. I consider this as mythology and then Sangay tells me that he believes in the myth as well as the ‘Theory of Evolution’. It’s very confusing.
Next stop is the Folk Heritage Museum – a 300 year old house turned into a museum. There are lots of artifacts from the past and I get an idea of how Bhutan’s used to live. The house has three stories and now I understand why the houses are so big: the folks would live on the top floor, the second floor would store grain and the ground floor was essentially the barn, and don’t forget the shrine.
The Arts and Crafts School is helping young kids get a better feeling about themselves though the medium of art: wood carving, embroidery, and painting.
Many of the Bhutan young are moving away from traditional medicine to western medicine but I did see many people at the Traditional Medicine Institute of different ages getting prescriptions. I mentioned to Sangay that Canada has adopted acupuncture and homeopathy as an alternative medicine.
The National Library is a disappointment. OK, they are just cataloging books but it is quite primitive with books on Buddhism, Hinduism and flowers. I do hope that they move towards other subjects.
The Nunnery is wonderful. It’s so different than a monastery: it’s quiet and peaceful and has a feminine feel. For example, rather than monk-kids playing games, a nun sits playing with a cat. The chapel is also very different and for the first time I see an idol, a female idol in a posture of contentment. She appears in harmony with everything. The idols in the monasteries on the other hand do not show any emotion but with dimples at either side of the lips, but no smile.
The Semtokha Dzong is a traditional Dzong and I am beginning, like in India with temples, getting Dzonged-out. They all look the same with one distinction – size. If it’s a biggie then it’s both a monastery and a fortress, the smaller is a temple.
The Textile Museum is the highlight of the day. The weaving is exquisite, made into clothes, robes, table clothes, and other things.
So tomorrow its back to Paro and a major hike up the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. I have been taking altitude sickness pills for the past couple of days but I am not fit at all so I am going to do the first bit by horse and then a couple of hours walk.