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Himalaya

Day 106: Thimpu to Takstang

Takstang, Bhutan 
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Wall paintings on a house on the way up to Takstang temple. What I thought was a rat was a weasel, seen here disgorging pearls of wisdom.
Michael Palin - HimalayaKhendum has lined up some local gastronomic specialities. As a sharpener, I take rice wine with an egg in it and, noticing the ubiquitous betel nut on the table, I decide that the moment has come for me to sample the Himalayan lorry-driver's staple diet. Khendum prepares it carefully, wrapping the hard nut in its own leaf with a smear of lime paste. The sharp bitterness of the leaf is an ugly taste, but it wears off and after a few minutes of chewing my head begins to heat up as if from deep inside. I feel my eyes water and my cheeks redden as the betel rushes my body onto full alert and soon, like everyone else who chews it, my teeth are stained red and I'm looking for somewhere to spit it out.

The main dishes are challenging. A long, stringy vegetable of some kind seems determined to strangle me from within, smashed chicken and red rice is dotted with small bone fragments and the cow-hide is, well, an acquired taste. One which, I fear, would take armed men with rifles at my head to acquire.

Our time among the flesh-pots of Thimpu is distressingly brief. Tomorrow we head north to Jomolhari mountain to begin a valedictory trek, a farewell to the high Himalaya.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 106: Thimpu to Takstang
  • Country/sea: Bhutan
  • Place: Thimpu
  • Book page no: 249

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