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Himalaya

Day 114: Paro

Paro, Bhutan 
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A rare quiet moment during the festival, on the old footbridge at Paro.
Michael Palin - HimalayaKhendum tells me, with much amusement, that the night before a match the men sleep together in a dormitory with the door locked, as sex before a big game is considered bad luck.

She shakes her head in some disbelief.

'So the women are integral to the game, but the night before they don't want anything to do with them.'

Taunting is also an integral part of the game. Before a man shoots, it is the duty of his opponents to put him off by any means short of physical contact. Personal comments demeaning his appearance, physical irregularities, masculinity and the disloyalty of his wife are not only permitted but encouraged.

When the time comes, the team to shoot, they stagger out of the tent, exchange their drinks for huge, deadly, metal alloy bows, do a little dance, then line up to fire at a target 30 inches high, and 150 yards away. The extraordinary thing is that most of them either hit it or come damn close. I suppose that's the ultimate macho achievement. To be able to drink yourself silly and deliver a bull's eye while being told by your opponents that they've been shagging your wife for the last three weeks.