|Je Khenpo (Head Abbot)||Yellow|
|District Administrator||Red with a small white stripe|
One busy Saturday! October 24th, 2015
How's this for an opening photo? Isn't he one ugly dude!?!
Our first trip today was to Motithang Takin Preserve just outside of Thimphu. Takins are Bhutan's national animal, and this wildlife preserve is just for them. Supposedly they're goat-antelopes, but who's ever heard of an animal like that? Anyway, I'd been hoping we'd see more wildlife, so today's visit was perfect for me. To say these creatures attract attention because of their unusual appearance is an understatement. They're big and they're heavy. According to Wiki, taxonomists were originally uncertain of the animal's phylogeny and it's been described as a "bee-stung moose." Bhutan Takin is listed as a vulnerable species of goat-antelope. So, there you go.
Also in the preserve are several species of deer, including these Muntjacs, known as barking deer. They're small and are the oldest known deer, thought to have begun appearing 15-35 million years ago. Native to South Asia, their range includes the lower Himalayas ... Bhutan. Pretty exotic looking, I'd say.
And the large Sambar deer, also native to Southeast Asia, including Bhutan.
The forest was full of Blue Pine trees loaded with cones, so the Spotted Nutcracker had plenty to eat.
This old goat was not inside the fence, but parked smack in the middle of the walkway. Um, that would be the black critter on the right.
On our way out of the preserve, we came across this small house up a short hill with a busy weaver out front, so naturally we stopped to see what she was making ... some of us came away with gorgeous silk scarves (or table runners) for nominal dollars. Look at all the beauties she's made, nicely stacked up. The runner I bought is pure silk and it's very pretty.
Our next stop was to the Tashicho Dzong (or fortress) -- the administrative headquarters of the Government of Bhutan. The northern half of the fortress houses monks (off limits to us); the southern half houses the office of the King, Prime Minister, and others, as well as the Office of Gross National Happiness commission. Look at it below, the gold roofs shining in the sun.
The Tashicho Dzong from a viewpoint.
Photo op at the viewpoint.
This is really a large complex, pleasingly landscaped, along the western bank of the Wangchu
Our Bhutanese guide, Sonam, left, explained to us the meaning of the men's sashes, and who wears which colors. (I tried to get a close-up of the shoes.) These are important government people in front of the fortress.
A white, raw silk scarf (kabney) with fringes is worn by common men from left shoulder to opposite hip, with other colors reserved for officials and monks. Women wear a rachu (a narrow embroidered cloth draped over the left shoulder.
So much detail goes into Bhutanese architecture!