Jim And Jenny

MY JOURNEY TO BHUTAN

Bhutan had always been a seed in my mind of things to do after a trip to Nepal in 1990. The mystique, mountains and the unknown appealed to the adventure part of our type of holiday preference. The karma part of the story started with a present for Jenny’s birthday. I bought a book called A Baby in a Backpack to Bhutan written by Bunty Avieson. After we both read the book the seed began to grow into something larger.

One morning while reading the Age newspaper Jenny said, “ Better check this out.” It was a small add for a trip to Bhutan with Tim Fischer. Our interest was all the more when we checked the dates for the trip, they corresponded with the exact times we had listed for holidays at our work places. Always being a bit on the spontaneous side I suggested we should ring that very moment and book our spot even though it was only 7am. Jenny thought it would be much wiser to get a bit more info. After a phone call to the travel agent the details of the trip arrived a couple of days later.

After poring over the info provided a dozen times and noting an almost McDonalds flavor to the presentation with the “Would you like Darjeeling with that?” We finally decided to pay the deposit and seal our spot on the new adventure. The all up cost was more than our normal budget for trips away, but I figured this was the chance of a lifetime as was having the company of Tim Fischer as our guide.

Then Karma continues. My mother had passed away in October 2004 while we were in New Zealand on holidays. Mum had been in a nursing home, which I visited almost every day to hold her hand or lightly stroke her forehead. When the call came that mum had gone I decided I had said my goodbyes to her and for reasons of my own never returned home for mum’s funeral. Some weeks after booking the trip our solicitor rang to say part of mum’s estate had been finalized and that we five children would receive a cheque in the mail, which duly arrived. The money was the exact amount to the cent for the cost of our holiday. I decided then to take something of mum’s to leave in Bhutan. Her needlework and crochet over the years were things of beauty; of these I chose a small crocheted doily.

The day arrived when the plane touched down in Paro. Our adventure had started in earnest. We left Thimpu for our journey through one the most beautiful and peaceful countries I have ever had the good fortune to visit. The bus climbed slowly up a narrow road to a magical and spiritual place called Dochu La pass. On top of the pass were many chortens and hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the breeze sending the peoples good will to the heavens. Mist swirled all about with tiny glimpses of the mighty Himalaya range in Tibet peering down at us from a majestic height. The snow covered giants mixed with the serenity and beauty of this remarkable place made me decide this is where mum’s doily would be tied to a prayer flag with a view of the mountains. It was after putting the memento in place with more than a few tears being shed in mum’s memory I realized that this very day was the anniversary of mum’s passing exactly one year ago. It was Tshering Tashi who after Jenny related the circumstances leading us to make the trip suggested I find out the exact time of mum’s demise. The time was 4pm AEST, which would make it 11.30am the same time we were on Dochu La. It was a little bit unsettling. It made my closure with mum’s death all the more special. Karma had bought me full circle to a feeling of peace and gratitude for mum’s life and for experiencing the beauty, kindness and serenity of the people and country that is Bhutan.

JIM TOOLE
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Jenny and I have lived our lives in the Albury Wodonga area. We have travelled fairly extensively over the years and have enjoyed many different people and cultures; most of our holidays have been based around bush walking. The wonderful thing about walking is being as one with the surroundings and people; many things are missed through the window of a bus or car.
The Bhutan trip was without a doubt the highlight of our many journeys. The surrounding lofty grandeur of the mountains was in itself enough to give the awareness of being in a special place. However after being in Bhutan a short time I began to realize it was the people and their culture that was the source of this extraordinary feeling of calm and inner strength.

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