New Travel guide to Bhutan
Written by Sonam Pelvar

A new travel guide to Bhutan has been published making travel to Bhutan easier for tourists. The travel guide book is titled - "Bhutan – Himalayan Mountain Kingdom." The travel book is written by Françoise Pommaret and the book is a new edition of the first ever dedicated guidebook to Bhutan when it first published.
The 328 pages, travel guide has 83 colorful pictures and five maps. It seeks to illustrate the cultural and spiritual heritage of the nation, while pointing out festivals and cultural sites. A brief historical overview is also included, along with details on some classic treks.
The author is a resident of Bhutan and is a French ethno-historian at the Royal University of Bhutan.
The glitz, glamour and colour
6 October 2009
If autumn makes Thimphu grey and dull, Thimphu Tshechu brings colour and excitement to it. Sonam Pelden finds out how Thimphu Tshechu has turned more colourful.
Thimphu Tshechu has truly become an occasion for the national costume. The colour, the variety and patterns of finery that give the townscape breathtaking richness shows how the tshechu is no more a purely spiritual occasion. This week, with the return of tshechu season in Thimphu, teeming crowds in their best attires have returned to the immediate vicinity of Tashichhodzong.
On the second day of Thimphu Tshechu on Tuesday, Pema Eden, 24, mother of one, returned home feeling deflated and abject. She went to the tshechu in a simple hand-woven sethra kira and a yellow silk tego. On her way to the tshechu, she thought she wore refreshingly new looks in her new clothes. At the Tendrel Thang, which was brimming with thousands of spectators, she melted into the crowd. The sea of excited people constantly milled around, feeling self-important.
The more she looked around, the more she thought her sethra kira was an odd pattern out. Everyone wore a better kira.
Like tshechus around the country, Thimphu Tshechu has become an occasion for ornamental display than watching dances for many. Thousands of spectators, young and old, are adorned with gold, silver, pearls and other kinds of jewellery.
The kishu tharas looked beautiful and exquisite. The brocade tegos and silk yonjus appeared no different.
Scanning through the crowd, more than 100 different kiras, yonjus, tegos and rachus were counted in just 10 minutes. All of them uniquely beautiful in their own way.
Shoes worn by women were difficult to be seen beneath the flowing fringes of kira. But many wore high-hills. Young girls carried attractive Compact cosmetic pouches.
Make-up and elaborate hairdos add to the colour and richness of the dresses. Some had straightened their hair, some curled it, some had tied it into a ponytail, a knot or plaited it into different styles. Faces were glowing, eyebrows were perfectly shaped and nails well polished. Young girls had tidied their hair with cute hair bands and clippers.
Men too looked bright and lively in their best ghos. Most of them wore new stockings and shoes. Yellow and redpatterned ghos were common.
Young boys and girls walked around the public galleries exchanging surreptitious, shy glances. While the boys went near girls and threw side glances at them, the girls fanned their blushed faces, pretending to be nonchalant. Some people took pictures and shared edibles. Around the corners, young children jumped about and posed before tourist cameras. Seated and intently watching the dances were elderly citizens.For them, a tshechu meant tshechu and nothing else. They looked elegant and dignified in aikapur, adang mathra and burey clothes, which are increasingly losing their popularity among the younger generation. Most of them carried packed lunch so that they could sit through the day. Moving around with cameras were foreign tourists, some of them in Bhutanese dresses. Most of them said the tshechu was awe-inspiring.“Everyone looks bright and fabulous. The dances are great,” said one David from America. The three-day tshechu ended on Wednesday.

Fire razes Wamrong town
9 October 2009
Eleven houses, including nine shops, in Wamrong, Trashigang, were razed to ground by a fire yesterday afternoon. The fire that started from an electric short circuit displaced 26 families.Kincho, from whose house the fire started, said she had smelt something burning from the TV room while she was cooking. Upon inspection, she had found that her house was already on fire. While nothing could be salvaged from the two houses from where the fire spread, most belongings from the rest of huts were retrieved. No casualties were reported, though.
The small Wamrong town is on the Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar highway. Most houses are traditional, which led to the rapid spread of fire.By the time two fire fighting vehicles from Trashigang police station reached the scene, eight houses had been reduced to ashes. Upon arrival at the site, lack of water hampered firefighting efforts. Trashigang Dzongda Lungten Dorji told Observer that Dantak helped the firefighting team battle the flames by fetching water from their tankers. “People were in a state of shock but things are under control now,” said the Dzongda.
According to Wamrong Dungdpa, students, workers and dungkhang officials were mobilized to contain the fire. He said the blaze was under control after 3 pm. Last night, the victims were put up in the school multipurpose hall where food was cooked for them.
The BCCI office in Samdrup Jongkhar sent a consignment of food for the victims. Trashigang dzongkhag administration also distributed food items, blankets and mattresses to the victims through the Unicef.
When the whole nation had experienced continuous rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday, Wamrong had remained dry. Therefore, it was presumed that power fluctuation had led to the electric short-circuit. Dechen Palden, a shopkeeper, was most affected by the fire. She said she had lost more than Nu 3 million worth of goods. Meanwhile, on Wednesdy, a fire gutted the attic of a three-storied building in Gelephu. Eleven houses, including nine shops, in Wamrong, Trashigang, were razed to ground by a fire yesterday afternoon. The fire that started from an electric short circuit displaced 26 families. Kincho, from whose house the fire started, said she had smelt something burning from the TV room while she was cooking. Upon inspection, she had found that her house was already on fire.
Meanwhile, on Wednesdy, a fire gutted the attic of a three-storied building in Gelephu.
By Tempa Wangdi in Wamrong and Sonam Pelden

Nation comes together in relief efforts
9 October 2009
The government has allocated Nu 3 million for disaster relief and reconstruction after the September 21 earthquake. But the amount falls short of the estimated cost of relief and reconstruction.
To expedite compensation for and reconstruction of damaged homes, the Office of Gyalpoi Zimpoen has initiated His Majesty’s Kidu Fund. Ministries, corporations, NGOs, private businesses, international organizations, various associations, groups and individuals are contributing to the kidu fund.According to the Royal Office for Media, His Majesty’s kidu fund currently stands at Nu 6.5 million.
Reassuringly, the disaster relief and reconstruction efforts have brought the nation together. Students and teachers of Phuentsholing Lower Secondary School have delivered 200 packages of food and drinks to Narang Primary School and Durung Extended Classroom, the two worst affected schools in Mongar, with messages of solidarity. Bajrang Agarwal, an Indian businessman in Phuentsholing, who has made substantial contributions to relief efforts, said, “It is sad to hear about the people of eastern Bhutan being hit by an earthquake. Having been in Bhutan since 1968, I feel it is my duty to contribute to the service of the nation.” Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Limited has initiated a fund collection from staff, which will be donated to the Gyalpoi Zimpoen’s office in Trashigang.
With the Department of Revenue and Customs of the Finance Ministry announcing full tax reduction for 2009 for voluntary contribution to people’s welfare fund, more contributions are expected. “We hope that this special arrangement will encourage more people to contribute,” said an official from the Finance Ministry. “This is our urgent recourse. It cannot wait.”
Meanwhile, quake victims in Pemagatshel Dzongkhag have received relief supplies from both within the dzongkhag and dungkhag administrations as well as from external sources. The dzongkhag administration and Nganglam dungkhag administration provided tarpaulin sheets, carpets, rice, salt, and vegetable oil to the victims. Relief supplies from outside the dzongkhag included tarpaulin sheets, mats and carpets, blankets, clothes, rice and helmets. In Mongar, the worst affected dzongkhag, the Office of Gyalpoi Zimpoen has issued about 15,000 kg of rice, 4,000 tarpaulin sheets, and 197 mats to the earthquake victims besides blankets, tents, plastic buckets, kitchen utensils and food items like tea and salt. As of yesterday evening, Trashigang victims received 4,000 kg of rice, 1,500 tarpaulin sheets, 22 camping tents, and 200 blankets, among others. According to the Office of Gyalpoi Zimpoen in the dzongkhag, the relief supplies are increasing.

By Jigme Wangchuk, Tempa Wangdi and Gyembo Namgya