Visiting the Remote Village of Rukha, Bhutan
This journey – a pilot visit to the remote village of Rukha in the Jigme Dorje Wangchuk National Park – was documented by our guest, Pat Barlow, a seasoned traveller and previous guest of PJ to Mongolia in 2005. Pat was amongst the first travellers we took to Rukha, to explore the possibility of a community-based tourism project there. Here is an extract from her diary:
Eventually, we arrived at Rukha, a village of 20 houses dotted around the hillside. We were welcomed into Nima Dorji’s house, the Headman for all the villages in that area. The houses are built in the traditional style, steep steps leading up to the first floor with the kitchen on the outside. Bedding is neatly stacked in one corner of the living area and is brought out each night for the family and visitors.
As dusk fell the villagers and their children drifted quietly in and sat around the room. Light glowed softly from a single lamp and there was hushed activity as more people arrived. The ladies, men and children wore their traditional dress made from beautifully woven silk and a small group gathered ready to sing and dance.
The children from Migtana School started off the singing and dancing, followed by the adults. The singing, stepping, stamping was as one. Everyone working together in harmony. The steps got faster with twisting and turning, arm movements flowing – no beginning, no end. We were delighted to join in with some of the dances and share in this celebration of life. The dancing, reflecting their harmonious living, praising the deities and protecting them from harmful spirits. We felt so privileged to be witnessing this event in such a remote village and so pleased to be in ‘Hidden Bhutan.’
We awoke in the morning to the distant sound of the cockerel. The children were ready for school. We watched through the window as they made their way through the rice terraces and thought how lucky we were to be staying in such a beautiful peaceful place.
One of the fishermen of Rukha showed us how the fish are put on bamboo sticks so they can be smoked over the fire. They have been given permits to fish, which generates some income for the village. They were very busy, as they had to send several hundred to Thimphu for the Royal wedding celebrations.
At another house, a lady was weaving bamboo strips. A pattern emerged within a square. Later that day, I was beckoned into the house to watch whilst the square was finished into a beautiful bowl. I am now the proud owner of that bowl and have a constant reminder of the lovely people of Rukha and their wonderful hospitality and craftsmanship.
We were very sad to leave the village and what we experienced there will stay with us forever. The warmth and generosity of the people typified all we had experienced in Bhutan, so with heavy hearts we made our farewells.
PJ is involved in various community based tourism initiatives. Get in touch with Karina to find out more.